Gmail gets new status bar icons for Google Chat, Spaces

While classic Hangouts is on its way out for Workspace customers, Google continues to update Chat and Spaces with more features. A small tweak sees Gmail for Android introduce new status bar icons that help differentiate notifications from Google Chat and Spaces.

Previously, new message alerts from Google Chat (one-on-one or group chats) and Spaces (competitor to Slack/Teams) had the same status bar icon: a filled-in message bubble with another behind it.

Gmail for Android is rolling out separate icons for each type of notification:

  • Chat: Single message bubble that is described and has an empty interior
  • Spaces: Three people side by side

Old Chat/Spaces Icon | New chat icon I New spaces icon I Gmail icon

Google now only uses the bottom bar tab icons for the status bar. It matches the Gmail icon for emails and helps users, especially business users, quickly distinguish where a message is coming from.

If there’s any complaint, the hollowed-out chat icon is a bit easy to miss because it’s so minimal. Meanwhile, the Spaces icon will take a while to get used to as it gives off a social networking vibe. (I originally thought it was Twitter’s new follower alert.)

So far, we’ve only seen these new status bar icons on a single Android device running Gmail version 2022.02.20.x. It is not yet widely deployed, while the autonomous The Google Chat app has not yet been updated. This comes as Gmail for iOS this month will display the chat sender’s profile picture in the future for better visibility.

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