Google has only recently announced that it was integrating its video-conferencing service Meet with the Gmail app, a move that was met with some criticism. As it turns out, the introduction of the Meet tab was only the beginning of a transformation. Developer Tahin Rahman found slides from Google's upcoming Cloud Next '20 event that show how the company is looking to turn the Gmail app and website into a one-stop productivity hub, with Meet, Chat, Docs, and Rooms built right into the service.
For mobile Gmail, the redesign means the introduction of bottom tabs that allow you to switch between four sections: Mail, Chat, Rooms, and Meet. All of these are pretty self-explanatory if you know Google services. Mail is the regular email section, Chat lets you hold instant messaging-style conversations with co-workers, Rooms is a Slack-like group chat experience, and Meet gives you access to video-conferencing. In Chat and Rooms, Gmail will also send you follow-up reminders if you people don't respond in time, just like the nudges you get in Mail.
These same sections will also make it into the Gmail web app, though they'll sit in the sidebar, where each section's contents are instantly visible and accessible. Further screenshots show that you'll be able to collaborate on documents right in Gmail, giving you access to chats, video-conferencing, and Google Docs all in the same web app — this might supercharge productivity, but it could also become messy pretty fast on smaller screens.
It's unclear if this tight integration with Google's productivity tools will make it to the consumer version of Gmail as these features are clearly targeted at organizations. I wouldn't be surprised if we see at least some of these coming over — after all, Google Meet already lives in regular Gmail users' inboxes. Hopefully, the new features won't make Gmail an even bigger memory hog on desktop, but that's almost inevitable. Maybe we'll be able to turn off unneeded modules, which is already possible for Meet in the Gmail app.
Either way, we'll learn more over the next few weeks as Google is holding its Cloud Next online event.