Latest Gmail for Android app suggests mobile ads are on the way

Gmail 4.6 for Android
Something wicked this way comes...

Android users: Enjoying the latest Gmail 4.6 update released last week? Now imagine it chock-full of ads, and you might have some idea of what Google plans for the near future.

Android Police reported this weekend that last week's release of Gmail 4.6 for Android wasn't just about adding new cards and a cleaner design - the APK file is also hiding something a bit less welcome inside.

According to code extracted from the latest build 836823 released on Sept. 27, the Gmail app may soon be infested with mobile advertising - including the ability to potentially save ads to your inbox.

Although the code to power ads in Gmail isn't currently active, it appears that all Google needs to do is flip a switch on its end and version 4.6 could start serving 'em to upwards of a billion Android users.

The little things

Judging from the contents of the Gmail APK, Google's approach to such mobile advertising could be done with some degree of restraint, although for some users, any intrusion is likely to be unwelcome.

Thankfully, the Gmail 4.6 build isn't all bad news - in addition to the aforementioned new cards, the app also includes a few less noticeable tweaks, such as darker UI icons and the removal of the Cancel button while sending a message.

Last but not least, the app also serves up a warning about any unsent messages that may be lounging about in a user's Sent folder, and also removes the generic avatar picture used for contacts who don't have one assigned while viewing messages in Notifications.

And what about those ads potentially waiting in the wings? "We're always experimenting with new features, but have nothing new to share at this time," a Google spokesperson told TechRadar in response to our request for comment.

Time will tell if these Gmail ads come to pass.