Anyone working with Gmail should prepare themselves for some changes in the next few months. Google has just announced a brand new Gmail layout along the way, ready to change how the email client interacts with chat, mats and spaces.

The idea is to integrate these services with Gmail itself to make them easier to access. The redesign is set to begin on February 8 for everyone who opts in. It will be the default by April, with the option to opt out, but Google will make the new design mandatory by the end of Q2 / June.

All of these services are currently accessible via Gmail’s sidebar, the integration is a bit messy. At least, the current model doesn’t look particularly clean. And the way Gmail accesses different services is incompatible. Chat windows pop up at the bottom, while Spaces switches to a completely different scene.

Access to meetings, meanwhile, is even worse, switching to a completely different screen to see what’s happening and then opening new Meet tabs for the meetings themselves. Honestly, the whole layout has been in dire need of refresh for some time, and finally Google is getting to it.

Now it looks like each service is getting its own tab in a new section of the sidebar. Not only does this make things better, but it also makes access to these services a bit more uniform.

Image credit: Google

There will be notification bubbles that show you where your attention is needed, while Chat and Spaces will show a complete list of conversations on the same screen. So there’s no need to navigate through the list, which is packed like a later thought in the bottom left corner of your screen.

Google has also confirmed that users will be able to search the chat history, just as you would in an email in the search bar. This is what was used to offer Hangouts, but was missing when the new Google Chat started. This feature will be available “in the coming months”.

This change is only affecting Google Workspace users, and no announcements have been made to the average Gmail user. But that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, especially since Google wants to persuade its existing users to try out other services on offer.