For years, Google was determined to spread its users across as many communication platforms as possible. Hangouts, Allo, Duo, Google Plus – the company couldn’t settle on a single app, service, or website. But in recent months, Google has finally learned that we don’t want to jump between half a dozen apps to talk to one another. And thus, consolidation began. This week, that process continues. Google is rolling out audio and video calls for Google Chat in the Gmail app on iOS and Android.
Make audio and video calls from the Gmail app
As of this week, you can start and join meetings and audio calls from one-on-one chats from Google Chat in the Gmail app. For now, this is only available for one-on-one chats, so you’re out of luck with group conversations. If you want to start an audio or video call, it’s very simple. Just open a one-on-one chat and tap on either the phone icon or the video icon in the top-right corner.
If you want to join someone else’s call, you’ll see the option to do so within your one-on-one chat with them. Once you start or join a call, you will see a banner at the top of the screen with the name of the person you’re talking to, the duration of the call. You’ll also see a Meet icon in the chat roster.
Also, if you miss a call, you’ll see a red phone or video icon next to the caller’s name. These are simple additions, but turn the Gmail app into a one-stop-shop for all your Google Chat needs.
Here’s why you might want to use this new feature, according to the Gmail team:
As some teams begin to return to 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.
More details about the new feature
If you frequently use Google Chat for work or just to talk to friends, you are going to be on the Gmail app far more often. Google says that from now on, if you select “Join a call” from the Google Chat app, you will automatically be redirected to the Gmail app. If you don’t have the Gmail app, your phone will prompt you to download it from Google Play or the App Store.
Google says this feature will be available by default on Android and iOS devices. You and the person you want to call will both need the latest version of the Gmail app installed.
As with many new features from Google, the rollout is going to be gradual. So don’t panic if you can’t find the new icons on your Gmail app. Google began an extended rollout of the update on December 6th. It could take 15 days or more before the feature actually pops up on your phone.