Here's Google's New Gmail Interface With Chat, Spaces And Meet Integration

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On April 1, 2004, Google announced that it would be rolling out its e-mail service. The e-mail service was aptly named GMail. The web-driven mail client initially brought a new style of e-mail management.

Developed initially by engineer Paul T. Buchheit, GMail skirted a typical e-mail norm which often built its structure around folders. GMail had Labels, a new way of organizing. Labels can be used similarly to a folder, but you did not have to move the messages out of their Inbox location if you didn't want to. That allows you to have as many labels on as many messages as you like, in data association this is known as "many-to-many." Additionally, if you remove a label, you would not lose your messages that had that label applied. For those used to traditional e-mail clients, such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and others, this is a far cry from the norm. Most of us have a horror story of some sort, accidentally deleting a folder and losing hundreds if not thousands of messages we did not actually wish to delete. That said, GMail offered many users with these kinds of issues a bit of respite.

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New GMail Interface with new Left Side Bar

Of course, this was just the first of many direct user interaction-based online services offered by Google, amazingly, much of which is still free. Services like Google Meet, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Presentation, Drive and others are all accessible to users with a base Google account. These services have had many evolutions over the years, but sometimes, if you have a slow internet connection when loading GMail, it will ask you if you want to load the "HTML Version." That HTML version still has a very similar look and functionality to the way it did back in 2004.

Today, Google announced a new interface change is finally rolling out to all users. The primary drive of this particular interface change is better interface and interaction between GMail and those other services offered by the Alphabet Inc. organization. For the most part, the actual e-mail interaction interfaces are remaining the same. However, certain features have been modified or outright replaced. If you let your eyes wander father to left in some of the available screenshots, you'll notice a new left-side bar menu.

That new side bar is the major upgrade here. It's fairly easy to see from the screenshots what these provide. We'll start at the bottom because, for many users, they have more than one Google account, and you can very clearly see that there's some simple single-button links to multiple accounts, similar to clicking on your icon at the top right of most Google service pages. Now, if you direct our eyes to the top of that left-side bar, you'll see a list of common communication navigations. First up, Mail, you're in GMail after all, why wouldn't you be in Mail? Next, you have Chat, this is the replacement to Hangouts and is a direct message or group chat functionality. Following Chat is Spaces, which is sort of like Chat Rooms. If you haven't tried the new Google Chat service yet, you can look at this almost like a live forum thread. You can start "Conversations" in rooms where other parties within the room can respond to each conversation. Slack and Discord users can likely equate this similarly to threaded conversations but as a default functionality.

Lastly, we have Meet, which most people are familiar with. Google Meet is a face-to-face web-based meeting application that also supports a number of pretty popular features. The interesting thing about Meet is that is actually has some of the largest capacities and length limits for virtual meetings, compared to competitors like Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting.

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New Gmail Interface showing Spaces

All of these changes inside the GMail interface intentionally do not take you out of the interface itself, at least not at first. That means that GMail itself can now be very productivity based. You can drop meeting links easier into E-mails, you can bring your e-mail to chat, and vice versa, all while never leaving the GMail interface itself.

Google's full announcement and more details on what to expect can be found on the Workspace Updates Blog. These features are already being rolled out for almost all users, except those grandfathered in the legacy Google Workspace features. You do have the option to opt out via the main settings menu if you don't want it. But be aware, if this is anything like previous updates, at a certain point you will likely lose that option altogether.