I'll be honest--I'm not a big fan of Gmail's Web interface. It's clumsy, it's awkward, and it takes quite a bit of getting used to. But if a set of apparently leaked screenshots are any indication, Google might be about to update Gmail in a big way.
The images, which Geek.com published on Friday, reportedly show an in-the-works version of Gmail's Web interface, along with a number of new features.
The most obvious` change is a completely new look. Gone is the current list of mailboxes along the left and tabbed inbox: In its place is a new "fly-in" mailbox list that slides in from the left-hand edge of the window. Across the top is a blue toolbar that shows what appears to be the Inbox toggle in the upper left, a large search field, and a Hangouts button on the right-hand edge.
The whole thing also looks very much inspired by mobile apps thanks to the new layout and roomy, touch-friendly controls.
And maybe that's the point. Geek.com points out how the new look "is clearly designed to function across a variety of screen sizes without losing functionality," and has features present in screens of a leaked Gmail mobile app that Geek.com published last month. With that in mind, it might not be unreasonable to think that this will be the One Gmail Design To Rule Them All.
There's no word on when--much less if--you'll actually get to use this redesign: It may very well only be an experimental design that some Google engineers have been toying with. After all, companies toy around with ideas that never see the light of day all the time. Also, it's still unclear whether this new design will carry over to Google Apps as well.
Still, it looks like it may be a promising unified vision for Google's popular email service.