Google Chat has slowly become a worthy replacement for Hangouts, and while it still has some changes to make before it’s truly on par with its predecessor, Google continues to support and develop the service for individuals and organizations alike in response to the global pandemic. Not all of the changes have been widely accepted or regarded as “good”, but these things take time, and with such a wide audience, it’s going to require loads of feedback and tweaking.
This week, Google is doing just that by A/B testing a new bottom bar design in the latest version of Google Chat for Android (v2021.10.31.408397499). Let’s play “Spot the Difference”. Looking at the two images below, what do you notice that’s drastically different? Each of the images were provided by Mishaal Rahman on Twitter:
That’s right, the attachments UI has been completely hidden behind a “floating action button”. It’s not exactly floating, but tapping the left-aligned “plus” icon will reveal the options for including a photo into your message, snapping a new pic with your camera, injecting a Google Meet link, Calendar invite or Drive attachment into your chat, and even formatting any existing text.
If you’re familiar with the PWA or Progressive Web Application for Google Chat, then this older design will look familiar to you as it’s the same design found there. Until now, the web and Android app versions of the service were identical with their shortcuts out in the open, but now smaller screen devices will have more space, and larger screen devices will have these options remain one click away. It’s less consistent from a UX design perspective, but ultimately, it’s more appropriate for each format.
We’re not seeing the update on our end yet, even after upgrading our app to the latest version, so whether or not it will roll out to everyone or remain a test that is split between some users and not others remains to be seen. Let us know in the comments if you like this change, or if you prefer all of your attachment options to remain out front and center on mobile.