The tech giant Google always mesmerize us with their ever evolving and growing productivity and “ease of life” apps. The list including Gmail, Google Now, Google Maps, Google Keep, Google Drive so on keeps getting bigger and better, and the latest edition to the list is Google “Inbox”. On 22nd October 2014, Google released its new Email interface named as “Inbox” (not an Update to Gmail, but a totally standalone Email app), which integrates features from Gmail and Google now.
(Note: All further reference to the word “Inbox” means the App Inbox and not the Inbox tab inside Gmail)
Inbox is an Invite only service for now (like Gmail in 2004), but I was fortunate to get an Invite from my “friend’s friend” and after trying it out for few hours and understanding its “working”, my first feedback is “Wow”! Here is my review on why Inbox will soon replace your Gmail app on your phone and eventually be part of your digital life!
QuotingSenior Vice President at Google, Inbox is “designed to focus on what really matters”. If you are someone who receives a handful of emails everyday, then you would have experienced the difficulty in retrieving important emails from the sea of Emails in your Inbox. The introduction of tabs in Gmail, by organizing your emails as Primary, Social , Promotions and Forums as well as using the “Starred” button in Gmail do solve the problem to some extend, but still Gmail remains cluttered and chaotic with the amount of data in it. Inbox claims to (and rightly so) tackle this issue and gives “just what you want when you need it”.
Inbox organizes your emails into “bundles” (like Travel, Purchases, Finance so on) automatically based on the content of your email and helps you retrieve it easily. For instance, all your flight and train tickets automatically goes to Travel folder, your online purchases and invoices goes to Purchases, your bills and statement from Banks goes to Finance and so on. (This feature is particularly helpful with our primary emails. The promotions and social Emails still goes to their respective tabs as in Gmail). You can create your own Bundles and hopefully Google algorithms will learn to send the correct emails to these Bundles (yet to try it out).
Inbox comes with a concept of “Pinning” an Email. Its almost similar to the “starring” an Email, but the ease of access and the user interface makes it much more convenient to retrieve it. Important emails which you may use as reference for many of your tasks can be “pinned” and later accessed with one touch on the screen. The emails are also shown as “expanding messages” , so once you scroll down to the end of the email you are reading, it automatically collapses back to the email lists!
One of the most innovative feature of “Inbox” is the ability to Snooze an Email! Explaining with an example, let us say your Internet provider sends you a mail reminding you that your subscription will expire in 10 days. But it’s still 10 days away! You can “snooze” this email to a later date (Lets say 1 day before expiry date) so that the email will disappear from your mailbox and will “come back” as a reminder on the 9th day again. You can also draft messages and then chose to be reminded at a later date and time. (You can draft a very convincing sick email and add reminder to the date you are planning a day off from Office or school!) Inbox also has the standalone reminder option integrated, so you need not use another app to keep reminders.
The search algorithm in “Inbox” is way correct and superior than Gmail. A search for “flight” in Inbox, directly showed the boarding pass for my next flight, but the same search in Gmail listed out around 20 emails with promotional offers from HDFC bank related to flight bookings as the main result! (See images below)
Hopefully a lot more features will be integrated into Inbox in the coming updates. As of now, deleting an email from Inbox is a 2 step process which needs to come down to one! Swiping a mail to the right marks the email as done, but doesn’t get deleted. I wish clicking on a mail should mark it as done, and swiping to right as delete and swiping to left as Snooze! Especially with regard to promotional mails and social updates, I really need them gone from my email with just a swipe if I decide not to
open expand it and read.
Finally the user interface of Inbox is awesome giving us a hint on how the material design concept would look like in Android L. The use of different colors, the way attachments gets displayed (even without expanding an email, the attachments can be opened!) so on make Inbox very much visually outstanding!
Inbox also clubs data from the Internet to the contents of your emails and provides you an enhanced output of information. As an example, in the screenshot below, the results of flight route is displayed with more “information”. i.e, since the words Kolkata and Bagdogra was mentioned in the original email, Google algorithm has chosen to give me more information by including pictures of the cities!
It’s just one day since I have started using it, but Inbox has already replaced Gmail as my emailing app! Wish there was an automatic way by which notification in Gmail is disabled if the user is also using Inbox! For every email, now 2 notification comes, one from Gmail and one from Inbox.
Have you tried Inbox? What are your thoughts on it? Will you be migrating to Inbox from Gmail?
Please do share your views in the Comments section below!