Home Tech Google’s unified Gmail interface (and Google Chat) launches for everybody
Tech - June 14, 2021

Google’s unified Gmail interface (and Google Chat) launches for everybody

Google is shifting two massive options from Google Workspace (Google’s paid tier of enterprise Google accounts, previously known as “G Suite”) to free, shopper Google accounts. Google Chat, the corporate’s newest messaging app, is now open to everybody. And Gmail’s massive merger with Google Chat, Google Docs, and Google Meet (Google’s Zoom competitor) can also be coming to shopper accounts.

Nearly a 12 months in the past, Google introduced a major change for Gmail that may flip it from a easy e mail app right into a “single, built-in expertise” the place you can ship e mail, chat, work on a Google Doc, and make video calls, all from one browser-based super-app. In August, this alteration began rolling out to paid Google Workspace accounts, and it has experimentally appeared on some shopper accounts. Right this moment, although, Google is formally making the function obtainable to all Google customers.

The “unified” Gmail UI principally takes the type of a segmented sidebar design with all kinds of Google apps in it. Gmail has lengthy featured a segmented sidebar that features a chat program—first Google Discuss (from 2005), then Google Hangouts (2013), and at present Google Chat (2018). With at this time’s change, there are new sections with a spot for Google Chat “rooms” (or group chats, which are actually separate from common contacts) and a bit for Google Meet (so you may make video calls).

Though it is not within the sidebar, Google Docs even have Gmail integration. If somebody pastes a Google Docs hyperlink into Google Chat, you’ll be able to mouse over the thumbnail and click on “Open in Chat,” which is able to open the Google Doc inside a brand new, multipane interface inside Gmail, together with your navigation sidebar on the left. A split-screen interface with Google Chat on the left and the Google Doc on the fitting may even seem. “Open in Chat” looks as if an odd title for this button because it’s opening the doc inside Gmail.com, however this split-screen interface doesn’t truly work for those who obtain the hyperlink by way of e mail. The interface additionally does not work when you have Chat in a pop-up window. Chat must be proven in a full-screen interface for the button to seem.

One other new widget you may most likely spot within the Gmail UI is the selectable Google Chat standing within the high proper nook. Usually, this standing says “Lively” and has a inexperienced dot subsequent to it, however you’ll be able to swap to “Don’t disturb” or “Invisible” so you will get some work completed.

“Beginning at this time, you’ll be able to allow the built-in expertise in Google Workspace by turning on Google Chat,” Google says. Hiding the unified Gmail interface behind the “Google Chat” flag does not make a ton of sense, however you’ll be able to verify this field by going to settings -> “Chat and Meet” and flipping the “Chat” setting from “Traditional Hangouts” to “Google Chat.” In the event you hate the concept of all this additional stuff inside Gmail, you’ll be able to flip the “Chat” setting to “Off” and the Google Meet setting to “cover.” That ought to provide you with common Gmail.

Google Chat for everybody

Enlarge / Google Chat. It is high-quality.

Ron Amadeo

Additionally in at this time’s batch of bulletins: Google Chat, Google’s newest messaging app, is rolling out for all shopper accounts. Google Chat has had a protracted and eventful life as a service. It was first introduced in 2017 as “Hangouts Chat” and was unique to Google Workspace/GSuite. It was Google’s competitor to Slack, the $27 billion enterprise chat app, and was renamed three years later to “Google Chat.” Beginning at this time, Google Chat can also be being drafted into service as a shopper chat app and can finally change Google Hangouts, Google’s hottest chat product.

Google has launched (and shut down) many chat apps over time—Google Discuss, Voice, Buzz, Disco, Google+ Messenger, Hangouts, Areas, Allo, and so forth.—however one person base has saved all of it operating all through this chaos. The unique Google Discuss person base from 2005 was upgraded to Google Hangouts in 2013, and now these Google Hangouts customers will probably be upgraded to Google Chat sooner or later. Google Chat is already cross-compatible with Google Hangouts—your contacts and messages in a single app will present up within the different—Google simply must kick customers off the previous Hangouts purchasers and get them operating on the brand new Google Chat purchasers.

Rolling Google Chat out to everybody is step one in that course of. Presumably, we’ll finally see prompts within the previous Hangouts purchasers to change to Google Chat, whereas Google Hangouts will lastly bear the promised shutdown that has been delayed a number of occasions now.

I’ve had early entry to Google Chat for some time now, and for those who’re questioning what the distinction is between the previous Google Hangouts and the brand new Google Chat, the reply is “not a lot.” That is truly an excellent factor. Google’s earlier efforts to interchange Hangouts, resembling Google Allo, have been woefully insufficient by way of lacking options and shopper help. Google Chat is functionally the identical as Hangouts. The 2 massive variations are that chat rooms help @ mentions now, which will probably be nice for greater rooms, and rooms are separate from the person contact checklist, identical to in Slack. The result’s neither a dramatic improve nor downgrade, however Google Chat does have extra fashionable purchasers. Plus, in contrast to Hangouts, Google Chat will hold operating for the foreseeable future.

One other new Gmail interface—and one thing known as “Areas”

Google's blog post shows a new Gmail interface with gray borders around a white content area.
Enlarge / Google’s weblog submit exhibits a brand new Gmail interface with grey borders round a white content material space.

The Gmail interface that’s rolling out to everybody at this time was introduced a 12 months in the past. Right this moment (together with the announcement submit), Google confirmed off one other new Gmail interface and a brand new Google Chat function known as “Areas.” In the meantime, Areas will get a separate weblog submit all to itself. The replace appears like a revamp to Google Chat’s group chat function, which was once known as “Rooms” and any longer will probably be known as “Areas.” (Google already had a product known as “Areas“—it was a messaging app that launched in 2016 and was shut down eight months later.)

The weblog submit mentions that Google Chat Areas will embrace “new options like in-line subject threading, presence indicators, customized statuses, expressive reactions, and a collapsible view.” Google Chat already has reactions and presence indicators, so it is unclear what the weblog submit is speaking about there, however in-line subject threading would make the service extra Slack-like. Each of Google’s weblog posts at this time are so full of flowery advertising and marketing language and devoid of specifics that readers can have a problem parsing what’s altering and what the brand new options are. One of many posts says:

Areas can present a spot to gasoline data sharing and neighborhood constructing for groups of all sizes, the place all of the related data, conversations, and recordsdata for a mission will be organized, and the place subjects—even on the group degree—will be intelligently moderated. With the flexibility to pin messages the place everybody can see them, Areas will play an important function in serving to folks keep related and knowledgeable as hybrid work evolves.

Proper. Feels like a chat room to me.

What’s extra fascinating is that the Areas screenshots present a bunch of modifications to the Gmail interface. Many of the navigational UI space is grey in these screenshots. The sidebar, the highest search and settings space, and the right-side panel are all grey, whereas at this time, these spots are white and mix in with the primary content material space.

The sidebar buttons are all styled in another way with icons and textual content; at this time, the buttons present icons when collapsed and textual content when moused over. The buttons additionally appear to be clickable navigation gadgets on this screenshot, whereas the sidebar is presently solely an accordion-style checklist—you’ll be able to click on on an arrow subsequent to “Chat” to increase the chat checklist within the sidebar, however clicking on the “Chat” title does not do something.

There are additionally three person-shaped icons within the decrease left-hand nook. It is unclear what these are. The icons for the group-chat individuals nonetheless dwell within the high proper nook of this screenshot. If they’re DMs, you’d suppose the “Chat” icon would have a notification quantity subsequent to them the way in which the “Mail” icon does. Unusual. Google does not acknowledge this redesign in its weblog submit in any respect, so we’ll want to attend till the redesign rolls out for more information.

Itemizing picture by Google

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