Back in May, a minor tweak was made to the Google bar found at the top of all the company’s web apps. Now, the notification panel is receiving a Material revamp that also improves the loading speed.
The panel loads noticeably faster with a progress bar on top and a spinner at center. Previously, Google’s folding circle indicator was used here. Tapping the arrow at the bottom opens up a new panel with icons that take users directly to the dedicated notification stream of each app.
As evident by tapping the gear icon to access settings, animations are also much smoother. This page is slightly changed and replaces the text shortcut to individual settings with a gear icon. Additionally, check boxes have been replaced by toggles.
Notification cards are now smaller, though expanded ones more prominently feature user icons and cover images. Lastly, the “All caught up!” bell illustration that appeared when there are no notifications has been removed in favor of text.
Despite having countless services that would benefit from being able to send notifications in this manner, only Google+, Photos, and Spaces currently make use of this feature.
The new design and functionality is live for myself and others in Search, Gmail, and Maps. Google+ and Photos still use the older style even after a refresh.