The Quick return design pattern is a feature that makes the action bar/split action bar to dissipate as a user begins scrolling down content, just to reappear as soon as the user starts scrolling up. The reason is to provide more screen real estate to the content, and not waste it on contextual controls that are not being used (since the user is scrolling). A live example of the implementation is available in this presentation.

Variations of the patter is used throughout Googles own applications, plus it's also used in facebook and Evernote to name a few. However, it's not utilized in the Gmail app, and I can't for the life of me figure out why.

Just like when browsing a Google search list, a user also browse their Gmail inbox. The possibility of providing the user with more screen real estate to show more items at once seems like a slam dunk, however no quick return has been introduced here.

Does anyone have any insight on this matter? Or can reason their way to the reason in a way that I seem incapable of?

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    I can't think of a solid reason, but after looking at this question and then to the gmail app on my phone, I think the fact the the items in the gmail list view are a controlled height may play into their decision. Chrome, Google+, Google Now all list content with varying height. Now, my logic breaks when you look at an email, and the bar doesn't hide, since each email's height varies.
    – smoca
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 14:38
  • @smoca hmmm... that's a fair assumption. I guess it could be part of the reasoning that plays in. Commented May 28, 2013 at 14:41
  • This isn't something that can really be answered by anyone outside of the Gmail Android team. Hence, it amounts to a discussion. It would be better if you asked whether it would be appropriate for Gmail, as that is more answerable.
    – JohnGB
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 4:38
  • @JohnGB Yea, you're right.. I will rephrase it today to find a better angle for it. Thanks Commented May 29, 2013 at 6:43

1 Answer 1


One likely reason is the simple fact that the experience surrounding emails involves a more even balance between consumption and action.

Consider Google+ and Google Now, where the controls are mainly inline with the associated content, as well as Chrome where you're primarily using the controls that the websites' interfaces provide. The actions are unique to the content being shown, and the user's primary goal is to consume what's presented.

Contrast this with email. At any given moment, whether in list or full view, you may wish to mark as unread, delete, compose, or even report as spam. Email is as much about content consumption as it is about organizational actions. Nobody likes a messy Inbox.

Not to say this justifies their decision (assuming it was intentional), but perhaps it does help to explain it.

  • +1 I think you provided some good reasoning, looked at it from a perspective that I hadn't thought of, thanks Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 6:17

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