This Gmail update just made it harder than ever to avoid video calls

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Avoiding video conferencing meetings could soon be trickier than ever now that Google has made it much simpler to join a video or audio call via Gmail.

The company has announced that users can now start or join meetings and audio calls from 1:1 chats in Google Chat in Gmail on Android and iOS.

"As some teams begin to return to office, while others remain distributed, we hope this makes it easier to connect with your colleagues in the hybrid work world," Google wrote in a blog post announcing the new addition. "This feature will allow you to seamlessly switch between chat to a video or audio call when needed, helping you collaborate and move your work forward."

Google Chat calls

Going forward, Gmail users will now see a phone and video icon in the top right corner of a 1:1 Google chat window that, when clicked, will start a direct call with the contact.

In order to join a call, you just need to select the phone or video chip within the 1:1 chat window, and while on a call, you’ll see a banner of the person you’re on a call with, the call duration and a Meet icon in the chat roster.

Missed calls will be indicated with a red phone or video icon within the conversation and the chat roster.

Google Workspace video call

(Image credit: Google)

The feature is hosted as part of Gmail, so if you select to join a call from the Google chat app, you'll be redirected to the Gmail app. If you don't have the Gmail app installed on your device, you’ll be prompted to download it via Google Play store or the App Store

The feature, which will be rolled out to all Google Workspace customers, as well as G Suite Basic and Business customers by default, is currently only available for 1:1 meetings so far. This means there's no group calls for the moment, but given the ongoing popularity of video calls, this can't be too far away.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.