There is a big new update that's waiting for you. If you are using the Gmail app on your iPhone and Android, you can now enable the Google Chat app integration within the Gmail app, and it will now sit alongside Mail, Meet, and Rooms which are already a part of the Gmail app.
The Chat messaging app, till now, was only available for Google Workspace users but is now rolling out for personal accounts as well. That means the Gmail app on the iPhone and iPad will now have four tabs at the bottom of the interface—Gmail, Chat, Meet, and Rooms.
To enable the Chat functionality in the Gmail app on your Apple iPhone or even Android phone for that matter, here is what you need to do. Firstly, ensure that you are running the latest version of the Gmail app—check and download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store respectively, for iPhone and Android.
Then, open the Gmail app and tap on the sandwich menu on the top left of the screen. This opens a sidebar of options. Scroll down to Settings > select your personal Google account from here. Then, you'll see an option labeled “Chat (early access) > toggle the option to green to enable. Then restart the Gmail app and you'll see four tabs at the bottom of the screen, with Chat being the newest addition.
For Workspace accounts, Chat and Meet are expected to be competition for rival video meeting and instant messaging platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack. For personal Gmail accounts, Chat integration should, Google would hope, revive the dormant Hangouts users and help push this as competition for the likes of the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal.
Within the Google Chat interface, you'll be able to share media and photos, have Google Drive access to share files, switch to Google Meet directly for a video chat, and even schedule a meeting with the Google Calendar access. The expanded Gmail app functionality also means users would not have to switch between different apps for Gmail, Chat, Meet, and Rooms.