updated 05:48 pm EDT, Fri October 12, 2012
Update said meant for Android 4.2
A video posted online today appears to show a version of Gmail for Android that will debut with the rumored update bringing the platform to version 4.2. The video shows off a few changes to the Gmail user interface, as well as new navigation features meant to streamline the Gmail experience. The major interface update appears to be deeper integration of single-finger gestures, allowing users to delete or archive messages with the swipe of a finger.
Android Police posted the video (shown below) that shows off the new features. The video was taken from a Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.1, so the new features do not appear to be limited to devices running the as-yet-unannounced Android 4.2. The about screen for the app does read Gmail version 4.2, though, meaning that it may debut alongside an expected Android 4.2 rollout later this month.
In addition to pinch-to-zoom and swipe-to-archive, the new version has moved attachments to the bottom of messages, instead of at the beginning as they are in the current version. Attachments that are pictures now have larger thumbnails, allowing for easier viewing. The update also has an image viewer built in, so Gmail no longer opens Android's Gallery viewer to show images.
It has not been confirmed, but the interface changes may stem from Google's acquisition of Sparrow, an iOS email client maker, back in July of this year. The Sparrow team, when acquired, announced that it would be joining Google in order to "accomplish a bigger vision." It was widely believed that Google would be putting the Sparrow team to work improving its Gmail interface, either on the web, on Android, or both.
Many tech observers believe that Google will unveil Android 4.2 later this month, and the update has already reportedly been sighted in the device logs of some sites. Should version 4.2 indeed be released soon, it will likely be alongside at least one new Nexus device, this one produced by LG. That device has already been shown off in pictures and benchmarked, and it is rumored to be slated for a release in late October.