The new Gmail design is available to most accounts right now as a settings option, but starting this week, Google is going to start enabling it by default — turning it from opt-in to opt-out. The main change is a new navigation bar to the left of the main sidebar, which has quick-access buttons for Google Chat, Google Spaces, and Google Meet. The colors and panels have also been slightly updated to match the company’s new Material You design language.
Gmail’s new design might be helpful for anyone who needs to frequently access Meet and Chat, but for everyone else, the new bar takes up more horizontal space. You can go back to the old layout by clicking the Settings gear button at the top-right and selecting “Go back to the original Gmail view,’ but it’s not clear how long that option will remain available.
Google says the rollout started on June 28, and it might take longer than 15 days for everyone to appear. If you want to try it right now, click the Settings gear button and select ‘Try out the new Gmail view.’ You might not see that option if you still have classic Hangouts enabled on your sidebar — if so, you’ll need to click ‘See all settings,’ click the ‘Chat and Meet’ tab, then set ‘Chat’ to ‘Google Chat.’ After Gmail reloads, you should see the option to try the new design, or Gmail might switch to it automatically.
The new side toolbar is like the one that rolled out to the Gmail apps on iPhone, iPad, and Android back in 2020. That change was likely Google’s attempt to pull people away from Zoom and other video calling services when they became popular in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
Source: Google Workspace Updates Blog