Gripe and ye shall receive: Google fixes Gmail for Android

The delete button that Google had removed from the Android e-mail app is back. CNET's Stephen Shankland, though an ardent fan of Gmail's archive feature, is happy to see it.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise Processors | Semiconductors | Web browsers | Quantum computing | Supercomputers | AI | 3D printing | Drones | Computer science | Physics | Programming | Materials science | USB | UWB | Android | Digital photography | Science Credentials
  • Shankland covered the tech industry for more than 25 years and was a science writer for five years before that. He has deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and more.
Stephen Shankland
2 min read
Google revamped its Gmail app for Android in June.
Google revamped its Gmail app for Android in June. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google has come to its senses with its Gmail app for Android.

A June Gmail overhaul dropped the delete button by default from the e-mail software, a move judged to be silly by me and by 88 percent of the CNET readers who responded to our poll.

Plenty of other people didn't give a fig, the button's absence wasn't a showstopper, and it could be restored by changing the settings, but I thought it a departure for a company that today is supposed to be fanatical about crafting a great experience for users.

Well, happily, it's back. An update to the Gmail app for Android on Thursday restored it by default. Those who don't want it can disable it.

When it's time to change software, Google walks a fine line between guiding its users toward a better future and alienating them. A significant fraction of people don't like change. I'm generally more comfortable with change than most people, if not a novophiliac, but even I can get frustrated when updates break things or when I don't have time to learn some new process.

The vanished Gmail delete button might have signaled Google's desire to shift people more toward Gmail's archiving philosophy, in which messages vanish from your inbox but remain in storage so you can find them again through search or other means. A large archive of e-mail dovetails well with Google's attempts to make your personal information more useful -- figuring out who's important in your social graph, for example, or suggesting that an e-mail addressed to your mother might also be sent to other relatives.

That's OK with me, leaving aside the issues of NSA peeping and court subpoenas, and I'm an avid user of the archive tool. But I wasn't ready to delete the delete button, and I'm glad Google agrees.