Gmail is going to get a work focused revamp, as per leaked slides from Google’s upcoming Cloud Next presentation. The company had already added some minor integration with Meet a while back, but now it plans to weave in support for Chat as well. For the latter service, Google will add two tabs, one called “Chat” for one-on-one exchanges, while another will be called “Rooms” for group conversations. On the web, Google is adding side-by-side Google Doc editing directly from your email, so you don’t have to leave your inbox to make a quick edit or two.
Compared to Outlook, Gmail has always been a very email focused product, focusing on that one thing and doing it well. Google did make some small concessions towards a multi-product workflow with the addition of the Tasks and Keep minibar, but this full-blown Docs integration will raise the ante on the web. On mobile, the addition of Chats may help push forward a product that while interesting, hasn’t seen as much spotlight as its video-counterpart in Meet, or its competitors in Slack and Teams.
Google also plans to bring more improvements to Google Meet including hand-raising, a Q&A feature, Zoom-like background replacement, background blur, polling, and more.
— Tahin Rahman (@tahins) July 14, 2020
It’s expected that the company will give official timelines on Jul 21’s Google Cloud Next Productivity and Collaboration session.
Update, July 15 (04:00 pm ET) — Google has officially announced the upcoming changes.
Google has now announced these features, in addition to new security changes for Meet and Chat. “Knocking” controls stop ejected attendees from reentering meetings, and “safety locks” will let hosts control who can present during a meeting. For Chat, Google is extending Gmail’s real-time phishing protection into the service. These changes are rolling out over the next few weeks.
Update, July 20 (20:10 pm ET) — The update begins roling out to Android users.
Google has announced the roll-out of these updates for Android users on the official G Suite blog. As with all Gmail updates, it should take about two weeks to reach everyone.