Gmail for Android removes bottom/navigation bar labels
Google removed descriptive labels from Gmail’s bottom bar after the Material You revamp on Android last year.
Most Gmail for Android users have had “Mail,” “Chat,” “Spaces,” and “Meet” labels since launch. Few users had a text-free version, and it’s now widespread. Gmail for iPad’s pre-Material You design already had this look.
Material 3 navigation bar guidelines exclude the text label. Google warns that “icon meaning should always be clear and accessible” Most people use the first tab in Gmail.
Gmail’s navigation bar has unique icons, and users are familiar enough with them to not need labels. Still, it’s hard to see any meaningful benefit from taking the time to remove these labels. This frees up a few pixels on newer smartphones, but not enough to impact how you use the app. Maybe this is the start of a movement throughout Google apps, but so far we’ve just seen it here.
This change is already rolling out to Gmail users, but you may not see it immediately, even if you have auto-updates turned on for the app. In our tests, one phone preserved icon labels while another didn’t, although running the identical version, suggesting the migration may be server-side.