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On the release of the new Gmail app for Android, I noticed that they moved all of the primary actions for messages to the top of the screen. As a user, I really liked how delete, archive, and mark as unread used to be really close to where my thumb was while holding my phone. But now, not only did they move all the buttons to the top, but they also replaced archive as a primary action with move to folder.

New Gmail app for Android

I understand that they probably have analytics that say what the three most used actions are in gmail phone app and that's why they changed it, but I honestly use archive all the time. On the UX side, I understand why they moved the buttons to the top; maximization of the viewable content area is first in an app that is for reading content. But was creating the consistency across most native apps worth the annoyance for me, the user?

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The bar at the top is called an "Actionbar", and according to the Android design guidelines is where your primary actions should go.

The actionbar provides several key functions:

  • Makes important actions prominent and accessible in a predictable way (such as New or Search).
  • Supports consistent navigation and view switching within apps.
  • Reduces clutter by providing an action overflow for rarely used actions.
  • Provides a dedicated space for giving your app an identity.

So Google are simply maintaining consistency with the Android design guidelines. Whether actions should go on the top is another discussion, and one not suited to this platform.

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JohnGB, I understand that this is the new Android design guideline, but while you say that the discussion around whether or not the actions should go on the top or the bottom is suited to this platform, that was exactly the discussion I was trying to start by using the change in the Android Gmail app as a jumping off point. –  Jeff O Jun 17 '13 at 15:21
    
@JeffO This is not a platform for discussion as discussions don't fit well into a QnA format. However, if you have a specific question about where the icons should be, that can be asked in a way that fits this format. –  JohnGB Jun 17 '13 at 19:57
    
is there a place on this SE forum that would serve as a platform for this sort of discussion? –  Jeff O Jun 19 '13 at 16:18
    
@JeffO The structure of QnA sites makes them a poor format for discussion in much the same way that discussion forums are a poor format for QnA. The only part of the site that suits discussion is the chatroom, where we often have discussions on an amazing array of topics. –  JohnGB Jun 19 '13 at 19:15
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