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Google shows off its new Gmail inbox

Gmail is going to be getting a big visual shake-up, starting with two variations on a cleaner, more modern theme. Soon, you may get your choice of a dark theme and illustrations.

Gmail themes, then and now, side-by-side.
A preview of the new Gmail inbox (left) alongside the current theme (right.) Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Google is changing the inbox design for its wildly popular Gmail service, and letting users try the new look out, the company announced today. Unlike the ordinary themes that address color scheme, these new themes are part of a larger redesign that addresses elements like the size and shapes of the Compose button, search buttons, and navigation controls.

As of today, two new themes are available: "Preview" and "Preview (Dense)." These feature a large, red Compose button instead of a smaller gray one, and sharper edges throughout the design. The color scheme of these two preview themes remains predominantly red, white, and gray, but Google says more colors will follow.

With the changes, Google is attempting a cleaner, more modern design. "This is part of a Google-wide effort to bring you an experience that's more focused, elastic, and effortless across all of our products," Google said in a blog post. The company warns users who switch over that some experimental Labs features may look out of jibe for the time being.

The changes also take into consideration compatibility over a variety of screen sizes, which hints that the tweaks will also roll out to tablets and smartphones.

As usual, Google will introduce changes incrementally, in this case over the next few weeks and months. The additional color options will include dark themes, alternative palettes, and illustrations, similar to themes that are available to spice up the current design. It's likely that some users will receive changes to their inbox before others.

Google will also redesign its Calendar Web app in the near future, the company added.

One of the new Gmail themes
This is one of two new themes you'll be able to choose for your Gmail inbox. Google