Once upon a time, there was a free version of Google Apps, aka G Suite. It was good. Lots of people used it for their personal or small company domains. Which Google did not like, as it was taking revenue away from the paid G Suite plans. Unsuprisingly, they cancelled it. Existing users could stay on the plan, but it was closed to new sign ups. Boo. But all good if you managed to get in early, right? No. Not quite.
You see, free Google Apps users are second class citizens in Google land. Nay, third class citizens. While full G Suite and even Gmail users get lots of funky new features, Google Apps users have to wait... if they even get the features at all. Which kinda sucks.
'New Gmail' is yet another example of this. If you are on a regular Gmail account, you get the option to switch. If you are on Gsuite, you can use the 'Early Access Program' (EAP) to allow users in the domain to switch. On Google Apps? Bad luck mate. But there is a way. Here is how to get 'new Gmail' (and other features) on your free Google Apps account.
Log in to your domain admin panel at https://admin.google.com. You should see 'Google Apps - free subscription' and a button to 'Upgrade to G Suite', as shown below. Click it!
You should now see a screen telling you you can downgrade within the next 30 days. If you do NOT see this, I wouldn't advise proceeding. Press 'Get Started' and complete the steps. You'll have to accept some T&Cs, but you won't have to enter any payment information. You'll land back at the main screen, but now you'll see 'G Suite' in the plan information.
You now need to enable the 'Rapid Release' track for your domain. This can be selected on your domain profile page (https://admin.google.com/YOURDOMAINHERE.COM/AdminHome?hl=en#CompanyProfile:flyout=profile). You may need to wait a minute or two for the settings need to propogate before completing the next step - we've also seen reports that accepting the updated policies may be required.
You now need to enable the new 'Gmail Early Adopter Programme' for your domain. This can be enabled on the Gmail advanced settings page (https://admin.google.com/YOURDOMAINHERE.COM/AdminHome?hl=en#ServiceSettings/service=email&subtab=filters). Once you've done this you'll again need to let the settings propogate, then you're ready to go!
All that's left to do now is load up your email, click on the 'cog' at the top right of the screen and select the 'Try new mail' option. Note that this can take a little while to appear, so don't panic if you don't see it straight away!
This is important! You might not want to do it immediately (you could give yourself time to have a look around all the other interesting new options), but within the 30 day trial, downgrade back to free! If you accidentally run past the trial period, you can never revert back, so you really don't want to forget.