Gmail’s current user interface is claustrophobic: icons, tabs, and chat boxes drown out the screen, take your eyes off your inbox, and often push you to leave the page completely. Google, it seems, is aware of the chaos and cleans things up with a new Gmail view designed to make it easier to switch between the Mail, Chat, Spaces, and Meet apps.
This “integrated view” for Gmail (Going through ZDNet) compresses apps that are currently under “Mail” on the left side of the page into small icons. These will now exist in a thin column of apps on the far left of the screen, below an expandable hamburger menu. Collapsing these apps gives users the ability to view all email options (Inbox, Favorites, Held, Sent, Drafts) and labels in a single view.
The new view should also make it easier to return to important chat conversations. Once the new interface rolls out, you’ll start to see Facebook Messenger-like notification bubbles at the bottom of the new left panel so you can quickly jump back to recent chats instead of browsing through entire conversations.
Google is also improving the search bar to include email and chat results so you can find what you need without searching multiple places. In addition to cleaning up outdated icons and undersized interfaces, the visual update will unify communication apps so you can go from a meeting to your inbox without ever leaving the page.
“When enabled, the new navigation menu lets you easily switch between your inbox, important conversations, and join meetings without having to switch between tabs or open a new window,” Google wrote in a blog post.
The new Gmail looks a lot cleaner, in my opinion, and removes the clunky interfaces that made you squint and scroll to find the right person, folder, or room. I also prefer some of the new visuals seen in the image above that Google didn’t address in their post. For example, the background is now gray while the inbox remains white – a small tweak but one that should make emails stand out more. It also looks like Gmail will adopt more rounded corners, giving it a smoother appearance.
The new integrated Gmail view will be available to Workspace and G Suite Basic customers by the end of Q2 2022 (we’ve reached out to Google to see if basic Gmail customers will see the changes). As part of a gradual rollout, the update will be tested on February 8 with the option for users to revert to the classic look. Then, in April, all users will see the new experience but will have the option to switch back to the old interface before it becomes standard with no option to switch back.