PSA: You can probably try Gmail’s new integrated instant messaging now

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Google will enable chat messages directly from Gmail for other iOS and Android users when enabled as a feature For Google Workspace users last July (through 9to5Google). It’s still a test feature, so accessing it may take a little work and may not be available to you depending on your account settings (my colleague and I were able to enable it in my personal accounts, but not in our work accounts). However, if you make it work, you’ll be rewarded with a new tab at the bottom of the Gmail app that gives you access to your instant messages.

To turn on the feature on iOS or Android devices, open the side menu and scroll down to Settings. If you have multiple accounts, select the account you want, and then search for “Chat (Early Access)” under General. Turning the switch turns it on (after restarting the app).

Enabling the Chat switch gives you access to personal and group chats in Gmail.

If you don’t see the Chat option, you may first need to enable it in the desktop version of Gmail by going to https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#settings/chatand then select Google Chat from the Chat menu. After restarting the Gmail app on your phone, the switch should appear.

You may need to enable chat on your desktop before you can get it on your phone.

Chat is a Hangouts replaced by Google that it uses has slowly moved users away. Chat is also available as a standalone app, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want your phone to have a lot of messaging apps, the fact that it’s just a Gmail tab may be your thing (especially if you live with email all day).

Pretty much like using a chat app, but in Gmail.

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