Google has teased an all-new design for its hugely-popular Gmail email service, which is designed to take on some of its biggest rivals – including the likes of Microsoft Word, Outlook and Zoom video calls in one fell swoop. To do that, Google aims to incorporate its Google Meet video call and livestream service as well as deeper ties with Google Docs.
If you spend most of the working day switching between Google web products, the redesign promises to be a welcome change.
Google has dropped Hangouts from the left-hand side of your Gmail inbox, replacing it with Google Meet to meet (excuse the pun) the sharp rise in demand for video call solutions as millions of people stay home to work, study and socialise at the moment. There’s also an option for Google Chat, which lets you send instant messages with colleagues or friends – in case you’d rather send a text, rather than ring them over video or voice call.
But the most useful change is the ability to view a full Google Docs file side-by-side with an ongoing Google Meet call – all within your online Gmail interface. This is possible thanks to the new Rooms mode.
With everything displayed side-by-side, you’ll be able to take notes, read out an agenda, or scribble down ideas for your first novel while pretending to listen – without switching between windows during a video call.
If you’ve been working on a lightweight device, like a Chromebook, iPad Pro or Surface Pro, this redesign should be a massive productivity boost as the limited screen real estate can make it tough to multi-task. With everything now combined into a single browser window, Gmail should make it easier to juggle multiple tasks.
In addition to “side-by-side document editing alongside chat,” Google will now let you have picture-in-picture video calls so you can keep an eye on your meeting – while still triaging through your inbox and composing emails.
The addition of new tabs also lets you view shared “Files” and “Tasks,” while you’re in a meeting.
And it’s not just the web browser that’s getting the productivity-focused upgrade. iOS and Android users should also see the benefit from the upcoming overhaul. As well as the arrival of Google Meet video calls within Gmail on your smartphone and tablet, Google has also added Chat and Rooms to the navigation bar that runs along the bottom of the screen.
The former is designed for one-to-one or group text messages. Like Slack or Microsoft Teams, you’ll be identified with a profile avatar and there will be status indicators, so you can let colleagues know when you’re on another call, or out for lunch.
Unfortunately, there’s no word on when the all-new Gmail will be available online, on iPhone or Android. However, Google plans to hold its Cloud Next ’20 event next week. There’s a good chance Google will use this enterprise-focused event to reveal more details about its plans as well as a release date for the new features.