Google would be very happy if you used their chat app, so happy that they push it beyond the limits of their real app. Last month, the tool became available to regular users (who don’t pay to access Google Workspace), and now its integration with Gmail is also available to them. But it’s not enabled by default, so if you want to use it, you have to go digging into the settings menu.
First, open the side menu in Gmail, scroll to the bottom and tap “Settings.” Tap your personal Gmail account on the next page.
Scroll down to the “General” area of the list. The first option should be “Chat (early access)”. Tap on it. On the pop-up alert, press “Try”.
Gmail will restart, which can be a bit jarring. Open it again if it doesn’t appear automatically and you’ll be greeted with a new bar at the bottom of the interface. “Mail” is your standard mailbox, “Chat” takes you to the official Google Chat app with all of your text conversations, and “Rooms” is the view of ongoing conversations. (Like Slack, but basically unnecessary.) You can switch between the three views at any time.
If you want to remove the chat and bottom navigation bar entirely, and you want to, follow the above steps again.