The new Gmail turned on contact images, but that doesn't mean you have to stick with them
We took a look at the latest update to Gmail the other day in a broad sense, but there are so many small changes in this update that we think a few warrant extra attention. The most noticeable change comes by way of new contact images next to emails, which are turned on by default. The issue is that not everyone has a contact image associated to each person that will send them mail, meaning there are often big, randomly-colored letters next to the emails instead. We wouldn't disagree if you thought this was a waste of space and looked a bit cartoonish, so here's how to turn them off.
From the main Gmail inbox view, head to your settings (via your phone's hardware menu button or the action bar menu), then select "General settings" from the first view and uncheck the box labeled "Sender image". Back out to your inbox view and you'll now get a wider view of your emails without distraction. Unfortunately this means you can no longer hit the images as a way to select multiple messages; you'll now have to initiate that multi-selection with a long-press on any email in the list instead.
Stick around after the break for a video walkthrough of how to turn on and off the new contact images, and a clear explanation of how navigating the interface changes slightly when you do so.