The ad-free ride for Gmail on Android may be coming to an end, at least according to some hidden lines of code in the latest version.
Google is currently rolling out a new version of Gmail for Android, claiming that it’s all about aesthetic improvements and minor interface tweaks. But Android Police dove into the code and found several references to ads, which until now have only been found on the desktop version of Gmail.
It’s unclear what the ads would look like, or when they would actually show up, though the code does hint at a way for users to save ads they like as messages within their inboxes. I have no idea who would do that sort of thing, but perhaps the ads would be similar to the sponsored promotions that appear in Gmail’s new auto-organizing inbox. (Those promotions are obnoxious, but easy to turn off by disabling the “Promotions” section of the new inbox.)
The idea that Google would try to make money from Gmail’s mobile apps isn’t surprising, but with limited screen real estate, the risk of overly intrusive ads is higher. Hopefully Google can figure out how to implement ads without enraging its users.