Back in September, Gmail for Android removed text labels from the primary navigation, and this change made sense as Google makes the bottom bar more stable.
Previously, the Gmail bottom bar would disappear while you scrolled your inbox and when you opened an email. Users had the option to uncheck “Hide bottom navigation on hover” in Settings > General, but the default behavior hid the bar.
Now, opening an email keeps the bottom bar until you scroll down and it’s instantly available again by going back up. If you turn off Hide Bottom Navigation on Scrolling, it will always be visible in your inbox, emails, chats, and other tabs.
In light of this change, removing the text labels for each tab makes more sense because Google wants to remove visual clutter and have icons as a permanent element.
As such, users can now have a consistent and distinct indication of unread emails, chats (1:1 or group) and spaces anywhere in the app. It fits with Google’s hope to make Gmail an app with three core capabilities.
On Android, this change is not widely rolled out and is only deployed on one of our devices with version 2022.10.02. However, this behavior appears to have already been implemented on iOS.
L: Bottom bar in emails | R: current behavior
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