The Gmail app has undergone a massive overhaul over the past few months. The app is now more powerful than ever, with services like Google Meet and Chat built-in. Google is now announcing a new update, allowing Gmail customers to initiate audio or video calls inside a 1:1 chat window.
Previously, starting an audio or video call inside Gmail would generate an invite link for the other person to join. But this behavior changes with the update. Google provided additional details plus screenshots on its blog (via).
The company first demonstrated these features in September. This is part of Google’s plans to integrate Hangouts features into Meet and Chat before the app’s inevitable demise.
“As some teams begin to return to the office, while others remain distributed, we hope this makes it easier to connect with your colleagues in the hybrid work world. This feature will allow you to seamlessly switch between chat to a video or audio call when needed, helping you collaborate and move your work forward,” Google said on the Workspace blog (via).
So how does this feature work? Conversations in the Gmail app’s Chat tab will now include buttons for audio/video call on the top right. Tapping either of these buttons takes you directly to the call, similar to any other voice or video calling app out there.
Google Chat and Meet could inherit more features from Hangouts
Active calls are marked with a Google Meet icon “in the chat roster,” while missed calls are highlighted in red. The app would also display a prominent blue banner on top of the screen with the contact’s name and the duration of the call.
9to5Google notes that the feature isn’t live on the standalone Google Chat app, but only under the Gmail’s Chat tab. It is currently rolling out for both Android and iOS users.
Google is encouraging Hangouts users to migrate to the Chat app inside Gmail. In August, the company began signing out Hangouts users with a banner reading, “Hangouts is being replaced by Google Chat.”
Enterprise users of Hangouts have very little time left to migrate from Hangouts as Google’s end of 2021 deadline has almost run out.
In related news, Google recently updated the standalone Chat app with a new bottom bar and a rearrangement of shortcuts for services like Drive, Meet, Calendar, etc.
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