Google’s unified Gmail interface (and Google Chat) launches for everyone

Google is moving two big features from Google Workspace (Google’s paid tier of business Google accounts, formerly called “G Suite”) to free, consumer Google accounts. Google Chat, the company’s latest messaging app, is now open to everyone. And Gmail’s big merger with Google Chat, Google Docs, and Google Meet (Google’s Zoom competitor) is also coming to consumer accounts.

Almost a year ago, Google announced a significant change for Gmail that would turn it from a simple email app into a “single, integrated experience” where you could send email, chat, work on a Google Doc, and make video calls, all from one browser-based super-app. In August, this change started rolling out to paid Google Workspace accounts, and it has experimentally appeared on some consumer accounts. Today, though, Google is officially making the feature available to all Google users.

The “unified” Gmail UI mostly takes the form of a segmented sidebar design with all sorts of Google apps in it. Gmail has long featured a segmented sidebar that includes a chat program—first Google Talk (from 2005), then Google Hangouts (2013), and currently Google Chat (2018). With today’s change, there are new sections with a spot for Google Chat “rooms” (or group chats, which are now separate from regular contacts) and a section for Google Meet (so you can make video calls).

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