Google has brought a bundle of new features to Gmail users worldwide. No longer simply an email address, Google is bringing its Chat instant messaging service, Rooms feature to share and collaborate on documents and files, and Meet video-call service. This bundle of features, known as Google Workspace – as it’s designed to boost your productivity across Google’s free-to-use web apps, was previously reserved for those with education or enterprise Google Accounts.
However, that’s now changed. Google has brought Workspace to all three billion Google Account holders worldwide. Whether you’ve got a Gmail email address, have used Google Docs in the past, or commented on a YouTube video… you’ve got a Google Account. If you have one of those you’ll be able to take advantage of these new tricks.
To enable the new Chat and Rooms functionality inside Gmail on Android and iOS, follow the instructions below…
- Open the Gmail app
- Launch the Settings menu from the toolbar running along the bottom of the screen
- Tap on your personal Gmail account name
- Then head to General > Chat
- Tap on the button marked “Try it”
- This will trigger Gmail to restart with a tutorial. This will teach you how to use Chat inside Gmail and will remind you to switch off notifications from the standalone Google Chat app – as you’ll get double notifications for every new message if you don’t turn them off
If you use Gmail on the web instead, you’ll need the below instructions…
- Head to the webpage mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#settings/chat
- Make sure to check the box marked “Google Chat” instead of “Classic Hangouts,” which is enabled by default
- If you have an account managed by someone else – like an educational institution, for example – you might only find On/Off options for Hangouts
- Google will ask you to confirm your decision
- And that’s it – head back to your inbox and you’ll see the new Chat option
Workspace brings together a number of Google’s most popular web apps for improved interoperability. Bringing together all of these apps makes Google’s free-to-use web apps more competitive against the likes of Microsoft Office 365. Workspace lets you present documents from Google Docs, Sheet, or Slide inside a Google Meet video call with a single click.
If you rely on Google Docs to collaborate on documents with friends or family, this clever integration makes it more tempting to ditch third-party options like Zoom over Google Meet – something Google is keen to promote.
Workspace also adds a messaging service, dubbed Google Chat, inside your Gmail inbox. This new service replaces Hangouts.
This lets you send a text message, picture, videos or web links to anyone in your Gmail contacts list. You can also start group messages with anyone in your contacts list – saving you from the hassle of sending group emails (and remembering to click ‘Reply All’ each time). Of course, you can also drop Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets documents inside a Chat window to share them with friends, family and colleagues too.
You can also use @ to mention a contact from Gmail inside a Chat, Google Doc, Google Sheet …or any of the other applications included in Workspace. This flags what you’re doing to friends and lets them jump straight into the Google Doc to see the To Do list you’re drafting, for example.
“Collaboration doesn’t stop at the workplace — our products have been optimised for broad participation, sharing and helpfulness since the beginning,” said Javier Soltero, VP and GM, Google Workspace, in a company blog post. “Our focus is on delivering consumers, workers, teachers and students alike an equitable approach to collaboration, while still providing flexibility that allows these different subsets of users to take their own approach to communication and collaboration.”