Gmail’s current user interface is claustrophobic—icons, tabs, and chat boxes suffocate the screen, drawing your eyes away from your email inbox and often pushing you to leave the page altogether. Google, it seems, is aware of the chaos and is cleaning things up with a new Gmail view designed to make it easier to swap between Mail, Chat, Spaces, and Meet apps.
This “integrated view” for Gmail (via ZDNet) compresses the apps that are currently located below “Mail” on the left side of the page into small icons. Those will now exist in a slim app column on the far left side of the screen below an expandable hamburger menu. Shrinking those apps gives users the ability to view all Mail options (Inbox, Starred, Snoozed, Sent, Drafts) and Labels in a single view.
The new view should also make it easier to get back to important chat conversations. Once the new interface rolls out, you’ll start to see Facebook Messenger-like notification bubbles on the bottom of the new left-hand panel so you can quickly return to recent chats instead of sifting through full conversations.
Google is also enhancing the search bar to include email and chat results so you can find what you need without looking in multiple places. Along with cleaning up outdated icons and undersized interfaces, the visual update will unify communication apps so you can hop between a meeting and your inbox without ever leaving the page.
“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 wrote in a blog post.
The new Gmail looks much cleaner, in my opinion, and does away with clunky interfaces that required you to squint and scroll to find the right person, folder, or room. I also prefer some of the new visuals seen in the above image that Google didn’t touch on in its 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 softer appearance.
The new Gmail integrated view will be made 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 phased rollout, the update will be tested on Feb. 8 with the option for users to revert back to the classic look. Then, in April, all users will see the new experience but have the option to switch back to the older interface before it becomes standard without the option to revert back.