Google introduced Inline conversation threading for Chat back in September of last year, but it didn’t roll it out at that time. Instead, it’s finally being implemented now. In a recent announcement, the company stated that it would be improving how conversations are displayed in Spaces using this method of organization.
As you can see below, hovering over any message in a Chat Space will show a chat box icon called “Reply in thread”. Clicking it will pop open a sidebar with a discussion thread that’s segmented off from the primary conversation. You can reply specifically to this and any “new replies” will appear as a blue indicator at the top right of the Space. You’ll also see new replies allocate as notifications on the original chat message in the main chat space section.
This approach to organizing discussion keeps things clean and focused. To date, the only options that appear while hovering over a message are an emoji icon and a “Forward to inbox” button. Once the update finally rolls out though, Google Chat will look and act more like Discord now does since it also recently adopted inline threading.
Discord used to allow you to reply to a message by hovering over it and clicking “Reply”. Doing this would just add it back into the main chat with the original text quoted, followed by your reply, but this could still be a bit messy. A notable difference between Chat and Discord post-update, however, is that Discord’s inline threads will disappear after 24 hours if not replied to within that span of time, whereas Google Chat’s inline threads have not made mention of how they will be managed. This leads me to believe that they will remain indefinitely.
Google hopes to make Chat more asynchronous by letting users catch up on topics when they’re ready to instead of having to constantly look at the discussion before it disappears in a wall of text. At this time, there’s no mention of whether or not Spaces created with unthreaded conversations will receive this update for inline threading, but since it’s previously stated otherwise in regards to other features and how they will be applied to existing spaces (read: They won’t, at least not yet), I’m doubting that this will be the case.