Google's Android apps have inconsistent navigation drawers

Google’s navigation drawers, while present in several of its significant apps, exhibit inconsistency in their implementation across various platforms. While some apps have updated to the rounded corner style introduced with Material 3, others, such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Chat, and Gmail, have yet to make this change.

There is also a lack of uniformity in how these navigation drawers interact with the status and navigation bars. For instance, Gmail interacts differently compared to Google Calendar, while apps like Drive, Meet, Voice, and Files completely bypass the system bars.

Another area of inconsistency lies in the width of the navigation drawers, with many of them being unnecessarily wide and obscuring too much background, making it difficult to preserve enough context. Google Messages, as part of a redesign in late 2023, removed its navigation drawer and moved functions to the account menu for a cleaner homescreen.

Despite these inconsistencies, Google still recommends the use of navigation drawers for apps with five or more top-level destinations, apps with a two-level navigation hierarchy, and for quick navigation between unrelated destinations. However, there is a preference for navigation drawers that extend beyond the status bar, offering a fullscreen experience, rather than those that stop short of it.

Lastly, it is worth noting that almost every Google app now uses Material 3’s pill-shaped active indicators instead of the rectangular ones, and Google Messages’ nav drawer, similar to YouTube’s, has been updated to the M2 style. The Google One nav drawer, too, adheres to this style, though the app sports a large M3 bottom bar. There is also a call for a more modern scroll bar design in apps like Google Contacts.

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