The revamped Google Chat has become widely accessible, undergoing an extensive rollout in recent days. We’ve successfully incorporated it across all our devices by simply force closing the standalone Chat app and Gmail. Notably, the homescreen widget in the latter app has also received an update, now featuring two tabs in the pseudo-bottom bar.
To fully unlock the enhanced experience, it’s essential to manually enable the “Chat” tab from Gmail Settings > your email address > General. It’s interesting to note that, unlike Meet, the integrated Google Chat experience wasn’t universally introduced to all users.
The redesign introduces a shift from tabs for Chat and Spaces to a more organized layout featuring Home, Direct messages, Spaces, and Mentions, neatly enclosed in a pill-shaped container.
A circular indicator serves as a visual guide to identify the active tab. While it would have been a delightful touch to see the circle glide/animate during tab switches, the absence of labels beneath each icon is compensated by the information displayed at the top of the screen, just below the search bar. The simplicity of the Google Chat icons adds to the user-friendly interface.
In Gmail, this floating pill seamlessly integrates above the existing bottom bar, which has been streamlined to three tabs. While this navigation approach is well-received in the standalone app, the integrated Gmail experience may come across as busier due to the amalgamation of features.
This redesigned experience initially reached Google Chat and Gmail for iOS, alongside the web version. On Android, the update is gradually making its way to users on an account-by-account basis through a server-side rollout. Today, we are witnessing its implementation on a personal Google Account, marking a significant step forward in enhancing the user interface and experience.