Google Chat is getting a big free upgrade on Android and iOS

iOS and Android users are getting a significant design to make Google Chat better and faster

Google Chat new logo overlaid on new interface screenshots
(Image credit: Google / Future)

Google's been busy with app updates this month, and it's squeezed one more big one into November: Google Chat is getting a significant interface redesign that should make it a bit faster and easier to use. 

Instead of the existing twin-tab arrangement of Chat and Spaces in the mobile app, you'll now have four: Home, Direct Messages, Spaces and Mentions. The same changes will be coming to the web-based version too. In the iOS and Android app you'll see the options in the navigation bar at the bottom of your screen, with notifications of any new content in the top corner of each icon.

The change is rolling out not just to the chat app but to its integration with Gmail too, with a single Chat icon replacing the previous Chat and Spaces in the lower toolbar and the four new options floating above it. Google says the rollout should be complete within the next fortnight. It'll be available to all users with either personal Google accounts or Google Workspace accounts. 

What do the new tabs in Google Chat do?

According to Google, the Home tab "helps you stay on top of all conversions in one unified view" and you'll be able to filter the view to screen out messages you've already read. Direct messages is "a compact list of all your 1:1 and group messages", with your pinned conversations (if any) at the top; Spaces provides "a compact list of all your spaces", again with pinned conversations at the top; and as you'd expect Mentions is where you'll find messages in conversations or in spaces where other people have tagged you. 

This isn't even the first update to the Chat app this month: at the beginning of November, Google announced a streamlined user experience that included shortcuts and a new multi-coloured version of the app icon. That rollout began on 9 November but is still ongoing, with an expected completion date of 7 December. All of these changes continue to make Google's various apps look and work more like one another, with more consistent interfaces across Google Workspace and individual apps. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (