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I think the dots actually appear to show you that the message is draggable. They're like a handle on the email. Now, the dragging feature is rather useless as far as I can tell, but the dots do make sense in that context.

That said, I personally like most of the new Gmail quite a bit more. It's probably because I get everything done with keyboard shortcuts anyhow and so care more about how it looks that how the buttons actually behave :P.

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