Google is rolling out a new design for Gmail. Among the coming changes are a left-hand menu to quickly click into Chat, Spaces and Meet; easier filtering to find emails faster; and many shades of blue.
Google says the move is aimed at making it simpler to access different apps – like the company’s instant messenger or videoconference tool – from your Gmail inbox.
Google users aren’t strangers to sudden design and branding switches. In 2020, the company renamed its collection of apps from Google Suite to Google Workspace, and it’s continuously played with the names and logos of the accompanying video, chat and collaboration apps, perhaps in hopes of turning a collection of disparate products into one hub. Now, Gmail users can hop among apps easier, the company says.
“During the pandemic, we’ve seen a further evolution as tens of millions of people around the world started to move between email, messaging, group chat and video calls as a part of managing their daily lives,” Google product manager Neena Kamath said in a recent blog post. “To help people stay connected, we’re bringing together Gmail, Chat, Spaces and Meet in a single, unified view.”
The biggest changes to your Gmail won’t happen automatically – you’ll have to seek them out. To add Chat instant messages, Spaces collaboration rooms or Meet video calls to the new left-hand menu, open your Gmail inbox in a browser and click on the Settings icon (the tiny gear) in the upper right corner. Under “Apps in Gmail,” choose “Customize.” Choose which apps you want to add, and after reloading they’ll show up in the left-hand menu along with Mail and Spaces.
Google also said it’s adding “search chips” to the Gmail inbox. Those are buttons that help you refine your search when you’re looking for a particular message or attachment. The new chips button appears to show up next to the forward and backward arrows at the top of the inbox.
Gmail is one of the most widely adopted email services, with more than a billion users. But people’s loyalty to Google’s email product doesn’t mean they’re always happy with it. The company retired its practice of reading your emails to better target you with ads in 2017, but it won’t directly say whether its privacy protections prevent companies from putting tracking technology inside emails. Last year, Google ended its free photo storage, and some users now see an alert at the top of their inboxes saying they’ll soon run out of the 15 free gigabytes of storage that come with a Google account.
App redesigns are rarely a hit with the people who use them. If you want to switch back to the old version, go to Settings again and select “Go back to the original view.”