new-gmail-iphoneGoogle just released a new version of Gmail for Android — a few days ahead of expectations.

Now you can reply, archive, or delete your email right from notifications without opening the app, as long as you’re running the latest major version of Android, Jelly Bean. And you’ll get the new Gmail tabbed user interface, with up to five versions of your in-box organized by all mail, social network mail, promotional mail, order information and updates mail, and priority mail from friends or colleagues that you email often.

(If you don’t see the new tabs, go to desktop Gmail, click the gear icon at top right, and select Configure inbox.)

Older Android users — Ice Cream Sandwich and up — will also get faster online and offline search, and even Android 2.2 users will get performance updates.

But everyone gets new labels right in the inbox, contact images, and the ability to manage multiple accounts:

There is talk that Google is staging the new Gmail roll-out for its hundreds of millions of users, so you may not see the update on Google Play right away.

However, I was able to see it on Google Play without any trouble. Your mileage may vary, and if it does and you simply cannot wait to spice up your sad, sad life with the brand-new Gmail, you can download one of the Android app APKs and manually install the new update immediately.

The slide-out navigation is a handy way to access mailboxes and labels, but some early feedback on the move of the action bar with delete and archive buttons, among others, from the bottom to the top is that it is now harder to access those features.

I haven’t used it long enough yet to make a call, but based on mobile user interface best practice guidelines, the top of your phone’s screen is the hardest to reach. Which means that Gmail may now be a two-handed app.

Google’s most recent major update for Gmail on iPhone was in December.

Image credit: Google