You’ll soon have a chance to try Google’s simplified, integrated Gmail update in the (virtual) workplace. Google is making the new “integrated view” available to Workspace users as an opt-in choice starting February 8th. Don’t expect to hold out for long if you prefer the existing view, though. Users will start seeing the new look by default no later than April, and by the end of the second quarter (that is, June), it will be the “standard experience” with no chance to go back.
The second quarter will also bring the “streamlined” web-based Chat client. Google has promised more exact timing in the months ahead.
The integrated view is meant to help you jump between mail, chats and meetings without switching tabs. You’ll eventually have unified email and chat search results. Google is counting on notification “bubbles” to alert you to issues that need prompt action. This ideally provides a clearer focus, not to mention a less cobbled-together interface than you see today — albeit without the convenience of having everything on one screen in some cases.
Google’s move also appears to be a partial response to rivals like Microsoft Outlook. The rework casts Gmail as a more cohesive, do-it-all app that helps replace Outlook for recent converts to Workspace. It’s not clear the update will have that effect, but Google is at least confident enough that it’s willing to transition its work customers within several months.