Anyone with a work Gmail should prepare themselves for some changes over the next few months. Google has just announced (opens in new tab) that there’s a brand new Gmail layout on the way, which is set to change how the email client interacts with Chat, Meet and Spaces.
The idea here is that it will make it easier to access those services by uniting them with Gmail itself. The redesign is set to launch on February 8 for anyone who opts in. It will be the default by April, with an option to opt-out, but Google is set to make the new design mandatory by the end of Q2/June.
At the moment all those services are accessible through Gmail’s sidebar, the integration is a little bit muddled. At the very least, the current model doesn’t look particularly neat. And the way Gmail accesses the different services isn’t consistent; Chat windows pop up at the bottom, while Spaces switches to a totally different view.
Meanwhile accessing meetings is even worse, switching to a totally different screen to see what’s coming and then opening up new Meet tabs for the meetings themselves. Frankly the whole layout has been in dire need of a refresh for a while, and Google’s finally getting round to it.
Now each service looks to be getting its own dedicated tab in a new section of the sidebar. Not only does that make things look better, it’s likely going to make accessing those services a little more uniform.
There will be notification bubbles, showing you where your attention is needed, while Chat and Spaces will display a full list of conversations on a single screen. So no more navigating through a list that’s been stuffed into the bottom left-hand corner of your screen like an afterthought.
Google also confirmed that users will be able to search chat histories, just as you would emails, in the search bar. It’s something Hangouts used to offer, but was missing when the new Google Chat rolled out. That feature will be arriving “in the coming months.”
This change is only affecting Google Workspace users, and there haven’t been any announcements about it rolling out to ordinary Gmail users. But it’s not impossible that it may happen someday, especially since Google no doubt wants to encourage its existing users to try the other services on offer.
Still, for business users, this change is going to be a big help — particularly if your organization already uses the various services Google has on offer. If you want to switch over sooner rather than later, keep an eye out for the pop-up message in the bottom right corner asking if you want to give it a try.