There was a time when tech companies tried to create as many apps as possible for their different services to allow people to focus and use just the ones they needed. But with a greater reliance on ecosystems, it seems that we are now seeing the reversing trend of rather integrating all their different services into one unified app. We’ve seen Microsoft do this with its Office app, where all the different applications are now contained in one suite and we’ve seen the likes of Slack and Uber do the same thing with their expanding new range of services.
Google appears to also see the benefits of this approach as the company has unveiled a grand redesign of Gmail for G Suite business users ahead of next week’s Google Cloud conference. The app isn’t so much “Gmail” anymore as it is a unified app for all of Google’s communication platforms: Gmail, Chat, Rooms, and Meet.
Rather than all of those services working through different apps, the company instead wants to create what they call “integrated workspaces” that make it easier for workers to shift between these different modes of communication without feeling lost. So, for example, someday the chatbox that already appears in a Google Doc or a Google Meet window wouldn’t be a random extra box, but instead, be integrated with your other chats or rooms. While there are some links in Gmail right now to these other products, this is more of a wholesale integration
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.
For now, Google will simply be packaging everything into one app. Which from a support perspective makes things a little easier, even if the development of all the backend services stays much the same. There are benefits to combining everything that could see them develop further features in the future. Features like changing your status across all the apps, searching across the different apps or, as Google describes, “quickly join a video call from a chat, forward a chat message to your inbox, [or] create a task from a chat message”.
Google is also trying to make certain collaboration tasks a little easier. The distinction between Chat and Rooms is not always clear. Rooms are meant to be more persistent spaces to discuss projects rather than short conversations. Google is adding lightweight versions of other G Suite products to Rooms: each will have its own areas for assigned tasks and files.
This better integration makes a lot of sense. It’s one thing Microsoft does well through this Office and teams apps and something which Google can leverage to allow people to take greater advantage of their rich suite of tools and not get too stuck in just using one or two of them.
This update is only going to be rolled out for companies for now but could probably make its way to the regular users in future.
Last Updated: July 17, 2020