"Legacy" Gmail web app on the left, new Gmail on the right. (Credit: Screenshots: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

Despite Gmail being far and away the most popular webmail service on Earth, Google is not one to rest on its laurels. Both the web app and the Contacts app in Android continue to evolve, though sometimes in ways that aren't universally embraced.

For example, Gmail's redesign removed a drop-down menu labeled "Mail" in the upper left, which contained a shortcut to your contacts list. The Compose button is now where the Mail menu used to be, rounded and with a multicolored plus sign inside it.

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But you can still get access to your contacts in the web app in two clicks, thanks to the Google apps menu, over near the top right. That's the one made of a grid of nine squares. Clicking that will show you a list of shortcuts to other Google services, including Drive, Docs, and YouTube.

If you don't see Contacts listed there, fret not. Just scroll down to the bottom of this menu, and it should be there. Once you've found it, you can click-and-drag higher up on the list, if you desire. Every tile in that section can be clicked and dragged around to prioritize the shortcuts that you use the most.

Don't feel bad if you've never noticed the ability to do this before -- there's hardly any indication in the user interface that clicking and dragging these shortcuts is possible.

The Contacts app for Android gets a refreshed look -- and extra brain power

Material Design represents a more streamlined, grid-based, and animated look for the company's operating system. Google launched it in 2015, alongside Android 5.0, aka Lollipop.

But as we've seen over the ensuing years, the transition has happened in stages, and now Material Design is finally making its way to the Contacts app, just as Android 9.0 is reaching the public.

The old Contacts app for Android (on the left) doesn't have the smarts of version 3.0 (middle and right). (Credit: Screenshots: Download.com/Tom McNamara)

The changes in the Android app aren't just cosmetic, though. In addition to the introduction of the Google Sans typeface, the Suggestions function has also gotten a lot smarter. Whereas the old version of Contacts thought that my list was fine, version 3.0 with Material Design saw it a different way.

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The new Contacts app identified two pre-existing entries with additional email addresses that I could add (apparently detected from my Gmail conversations), one duplicate entry, and ten people I talk to often in Gmail that should have an official entry in the app. I could add all ten in one tap, or select them individually.

The Contacts 3.0 update is apparently going out in stages over the next few weeks, so don't worry if you don't get this refresh right away.

The takeaways

  1. Google's removed a menu in the web app version of Gmail that gave you a shortcut to your contacts list. But you can make some adjustments to the "Google app" menu to the right and make your list accessible once again with a couple clicks.
  2. Meanwhile, Google is also updating the Contacts app for Android with a Material Design visual refresh, and its Suggestions function now does a smarter job of detecting changes that you should make to your list.

Also see

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.