With Google digging its heels in and heavily promoting Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in place of traditional Google Play apps, I’ve come to realize something rather frustrating – the Gmail web application doesn’t have a proper dark theme! In fact, almost none of Google’s software does, but with something as frequently utilized by so many people and so important to productivity as its email client, it strikes me as odd that the company has yet to implement this. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to open my email in the morning and be blinded by the light of a forced light theme when the rest of my devices and many of my web apps use a dark theme.
To clarify, I’m completely aware of the themes section of the Gmail settings and the Terminal dark theme therein, but it’s a band-aid solution to a much larger issue. I’m not saying it doesn’t look nice and help my eyes, but there are two problems. First, I hate that ugly terminal caret and underscore that blinks at the top left – super distracting, and second, with Chromebooks getting an official dark theme toggle to match that which mobile phones have had for quite some time now, and with websites like Youtube and Milanote respecting your device’s theme and intelligently applying their own to match it, I guess it just bothers me that a company as large as Google, who’s very much in control of how its services are experienced, has seemingly yet to think about something I think about many times per day.
To give credit where credit is due, It has been testing a dark theme for Google Search, so I have to believe that Gmail is on the docket. Aside from Search, I believe that Gmail is one of the most important web apps in the company’s suite of tools, and it would greatly benefit users to have a dark theme option for it, so I certainly hope that its turn is up sooner rather than later!
Honestly, it’s less about me complaining that something does not exist where it ought to, (Even though Chromebook users have a dark theme baked into the Gmail Android app) and more about the fact that even switching back and forth between the Terminal Gmail dark theme and the standard light theme is just a pain in the neck. As we move closer to having complete autonomy with universal theme switching, even to the point where your phone’s theme can change automatically at night time to save your eyes, large companies like Google need to start thinking about putting the web first when it comes to user experience design and worrying less about their Android apps now that they’re entering a phase of incremental improvements.
The fact that Google is dragging its feet with this is unacceptable. I’m sure they’re probably working on it, but I would have liked to see it come about much sooner. Do you think I’m being overly critical in regards to Gmail, or do you share my frustrations? Email is so important to so many people, and I continue to get this feeling that Google really has its priorities backward when it comes to what’s important to its users. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section! I suppose I’ll continue to use the Terminal theme for now – blink, blink.