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Google: Gmail is getting this new look to make switching between apps easier

For Workspace customers, Gmail's new app column makes switching easier as Google integrates search across Gmail and Chat.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

Google has detailed its phased rollout of a new Gmail view that aims to make it easier to navigate across the Gmail, Chat, Spaces, and Meet apps. 

The new "integrated view" for Gmail is intended to make it "easy to move between critical applications like Gmail, Chat and Meet in one unified location", according to Google.

The redesigned layout adds a slim application column on the left-hand side of the screen with shortcut icons to switch between Mail, Chat, Spaces, and Meet. It's topped by an expandable hamburger menu. To the right of the new column is the standard Gmail labels menu for access to Inbox, Starred, Snoozed and so forth.

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It's not a dramatic redesign for Google's Gmail users but the application column should, Google hopes, make it easier to switch between its communications apps. The 2020 Gmail redesign that brought Workspace apps like Docs to the foreground via a right hand-side column remains in place.   

Google also details its phased rollout for the integrated view, which completes at some point in Q2 2022 when it becomes the standard Gmail experience. Until then, users can try it out and revert to the classic view via Settings . 

From February 8, Gmail users can opt in to the new experience and revert to the classic Gmail via settings, according to Google's Workspace updates blogpost. Google will update its Workspace updates blog with more details as the rollout commences. 

By April, the new experience will become the default for all users regardless whether they've opted in. However, users can revert to classic Gmail via settings. 

The big forced switch happens by the end of Q2 2022 and there won't be an option to revert to classic Gmail. 

Google then plans to roll out a new streamlined navigation experience for Chat on the web. At that point, users will no longer be able to configure Chat to display on the right side of Gmail.  

"When enabled, the new navigation menu allows you to easily switch between your inbox, important conversations, and join meetings without having to switch between tabs or open a new window," Google says in its pitch for users to test the integrated view.   

The new view offers notification bubbles to focus users' attention on new tasks. Users can view a full list of conversations in Chat and Spaces in a single screen for easier navigation and faster engagement. 

In a few months, Google will also let users see email and chat results when using the search box to avoid the need to filter search results from each product.   

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Google

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