Google Chat web just got handy new redesign and is now a part of Gmail
The Google Chat website got some tweaks and a Hangouts-style chat window last week and this redesign has now been rolled out for free accounts and is directly a part of Gmail now.
Google has started migrating classic Hangouts users to the free version of Google Chat already. Google Workspace customers have been able to invite any Gmail account to select conversations for a while now and personal Google Accounts can download the Chat apps on iOS or Android as well as the web client.
And a part of this change, if you go to chat.google.com, you will get redirected to mail.google.com/mail/u/0/chat/#chat/welcome.
This link loads the new UI that has started showing up for some users last week and it looks more like the Gmail web app than the Chat app that’s available for paying customers, as 9to5Google points out.
The top bar on the new UI comes with a search bar, a dropdown to pick from “Active”, “Do not disturb” and “Set as away”. Then the navigation drawer lists the “Chat” conversations, both one-to-one chats and group chats, and larger Rooms and there is also a “Meet” shortcut to start or join a video call. The sidebar here can be minimised by clicking the hamburger menu so as you can only see profile avatars.
The main improvement here is the ability to dock conversations in compact windows that match the classic Hangouts experience on Gmail. Conversations will appear on the right and can be minimised and all this functionality is available in a small window including Google Drive insertion and video call invites.
These changes make for improved productivity and the features are very familiar to all longtime Gmail users. It makes it easier to talk to multiple people at the same time without having to switch through much.
The new Google Chat redesign will probably come to Workspace customers soon or it could just be for the free version of Chat. We’ll have to wait and watch.