The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things in the technology world. Video calling, for example, became a much more popular feature in a blink of an eye. Companies have been scrambling to adjust to the new demands and we’ve seen Google do a lot of shuffling with its messaging platforms. Last month, Google rolled out a dedicated tab for Google Meet in the Gmail app. It turns out that was only the beginning.
Software engineer Tahin Rahman (@tahins) found some slides from a presentation for Google’s upcoming Cloud Next ’20 event. The slides show Google’s plan to integrate Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Rooms, and Google Docs more deeply into the Gmail app. The former three services will each get their own dedicated tab in the mobile app.
The four tabs at the bottom will be Mail, Chat, Rooms, and Meet. Mail is the typical Gmail interface, Chat is for instant messaging conversations, Rooms is Google’s Slack-like team/group messaging service, and Meet is for video calling. The integration is deeper than just tabs, too. Chat and Rooms will also send follow-up reminders if you don’t respond in time.
These four tabs will make their way to the web version of Gmail as well. They will be in the left sidebar and each service will get its own section with shortcuts to folders, conversations, rooms, and calls. The web version will also get additional integration with Google Docs, meaning you can collaborate on documents from inside Gmail. Essentially, Google is hoping to turn Gmail into a one-stop-shop for productivity.
Most of the services mentioned are primarily used by G Suite users, so it’s not clear if this new integration will roll out to consumers as well. Meet is already available in the public Gmail app, but a service like Rooms is really more focused on enterprise users. If Chat and Rooms do show up as tabs in the Gmail app, we expect them to be hidable just like the current Meet tab. Stay tuned for more information later this week/month.
It didn’t take long for Google to confirm the leak from earlier today. Gmail for G Suite users is officially getting the integration with Docs, Meet, Chat, and Rooms outlines above. We didn’t know who would be getting this update, but Google says it will be available as an “early access preview” to G Suite customers this week and roll out to all G Suite customers later this year. There’s no plan to bring it to consumers, though Google is thinking about it.
One of the nifty features we didn’t know about in the original post is Do Not Disturb status that work across all the services. This means you can mute notifications from all the services in one place. There’s also Search functionality that can find stuff from all the services as well. As mentioned, this is a big move with a focus on productivity for people who rely on these apps.
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