Google has developed a pattern of announcing things immediately after they leak. The search giant did precisely that with the recently leaked Nest smart speaker, and now it’s done the same with today’s Gmail leak.
Ahead of next week’s Google Cloud conference, the company showed off its new Gmail app. It’s not really Gmail anymore, though. Instead, it’s a unified hub for all of Google’s communication platforms, and it integrates with Google’s productivity tools like Docs.
The Verge reports that the new Gmail will be available as an “early access preview” to G Suite customers this week. Later this year, it will roll out to all G Suite customers.
However, the consumer version of Gmail likely won’t see any significant change in the short term. Google told The Verge it plans to think through “how and when to bring [the] experience to the consumers who might want it.”
The new Gmail’s main goal is to put all of these tools into one “integrated workspace.” In the future, that means that, for example, the chatbox that shows up in a Google Doc or Meet window might integrate with users’ other chats and rooms. For now, however, the integration isn’t that deep.
Instead, the main difference is that all the tools happen to be in the same space. On your phone, that’s the Gmail app — your PC, the Gmail website. That hopefully means less bouncing around between tabs and apps to get things done.
Another benefit of packing all these communication tools into a single app is that setting something like ‘Do Not Disturb’ can apply app-wide instead of managing the setting across multiple tools. Along with that, Gmail’s search will get more powerful as it’ll work across email, chat and more.
The Verge likens Google’s strategy to that of Microsoft with Teams. The Redmond, Washington-based company leveraged its Office 365 — now Microsoft 365 — tools to push Teams. Google is doing the same with Gmail, its most popular platform, to promote these new collaboration tools.
Unfortunately, outside of G Suite customers who will actively use all these tools, the new Gmail may bring a host of functionality that people don’t want or need. As Google tightens the integration between these platforms, it may make it more difficult to avoid some features.
Hopefully this marks a turning point for Google. The company has developed a reputation for making competing apps and services. Although chat apps stand out as the most prominent example, other apps like Keep and Tasks seem to offer similar services with slight variations.
Javier Soltero, general manager and VP of G Suite, explained to The Verge how Google is moving in a different direction now.
“The history of these products is that they were all built individually and they all had a core set of opinions that were obvious to everyone: multi-user, user collaboration, etc. … They all had the same set of shared ideas but they were not necessarily driving toward a shared end goal,” Soltero said.
At least for G Suite’s communication platforms, the shared goal is a unified front with deep integration across Google’s services that can fend off Teams and Slack.
Source: The Verge