Sunday, November 2, 2014

Inbox by Gmail

About a week ago Google released it's new idea of handling emails, called Inbox by Gmail.

What is Inbox by Gmail?

Basically it's an email client that comes as app and web-interface (there is an iOS app as well).
It works with your Gmail account so it "replaces" your Gmail app or web-interface if you decide so. Google was claiming that Gmail as you know it will not vanish, also they are just about to release version 5 of the Gmail app with more adjustments towards material design, so at least for the next time Gmail as you know it wont go anywhere.

Inbox app

Inbox web-interface

What is different with Inbox by Gmail?

Inbox by Gmail takes a bit a different approach compared with other email-clients. Everything is build around Bundles, Reminders and Highlights.
As email is basically a relative "old" way of communication, it has been overrun by spam and way to many emails every day for many of us to keep clear about them.
Also many people fear to miss something important when they don't read carefully about all emails coming in every day which may take a lot of time.


To help to keep the overview of all more or less important messages in your inbox the main concept is to bundle them into specific topics or groups, which is simply called Bundles in Inbox.
There are quite a bunch of preset Bundles but you can also create your own to supplement the already existing. For the already existing Bundles, Gmail will sort all incoming mails into them as good as the algorithms know. By simply dragging emails into other Bundles, Inbox will learn how to sort them by time.

Bundles in Inbox
Expanded Promotions Bundle.
The Bundle can be set done at once.

Expanded an email within the Promotions Bundle.

Once your done with an email, you should mark it done. Done emails are not deleted, they will remain in your archive but they will no longer stay in your inbox. Everything still can be searched by the search-bar at the top of the app or web-interface, this includes your archive.

Of course, bundles can be marked done with only one click, which will mark all emails contained in that bundle as done.

Within the app you can simply swipe right on a Message in the overview to set it done or swipe left to set a Reminder.

Swipe right to set an email done.

Swipe left to set a Reminder.


Things important to you at the moment can be pinned so they will not vanish from your inbox by group actions. Also you can set a filter to see only thous messages that got pined only.


The next great feature are the build in reminders.
Often you might not react to an email immediately so there is an option to just set a reminder. Emails with an reminder will vanish from your normal inbox as well and come back to the specified reminder time or location (yes, there are location based reminders).
There is also a category which holds all your reminders so you can still reach them at any time.

Reminders can be viewed separately.

Also there is an option to create reminders independent from incoming emails so there is no longer the need to write something to yourself in order to get some kind of reminder by emails or to use another tool for that.

Adding new reminders, by location or time.

Oh and also this reminders and the reminders you set by Google Now (even with voice commands) are all the same and can be managed in Inbox.


Inbox will highlight the important information of your emails even in the overview so most of the time you can get all relevant information without even opening the email. This includes informations like travel-time and flight-number or attached documents in a preview. At orders for example when the email contains a picture of your purchased goods you will see this in the overview as well.
This helpful feature also enables to often mark emails done without even opening them.

Important information is shown at the overview already.

New messages

New messages (or reminders) are created by the big red + at the button right corner. According to the new Material Design the most relevant operation(s) is packed into a outstanding position, providing some of the most common used operations directly within.

Expanding the main function leads to your resent contacts or actions.

Composing an email just like your used to.

How to get started?

Inbox by Gmail is currently in some kind of public beta testing. Means everyone can test it out but only if you get an invite. To get invites, you can register at Inbox by Gmail, there you can also see a promotion demo of Inbox and how it works.
Google has sent out a few rounds of invites already.

Inbox by Gmail registration.

There is another way to get an invite as Google is handing out a limited amount of "golden tickets" to thous who already have access to invite others.

Before you ask and even if you can see the "golden ticket" at some screenshots, at the moment I don't have any invites left.


Over all Inbox by Gmail is a great innovation in handling emails in my opinion. 
The over all look and animations is leaning towards Google Now Cards and of course the new Material Design.
The way the Bundles and Reminders help to organize your emails is very nice and I can see a clear benefit in getting email handling done a lot faster by still not missing the important stuff.
A great app but also very nice web-interface along with the reminders, bundles and highlights give handling emails a fresh look and feel.
There is one downside if you want to call it so ... of course it only works with your Gmail account(s) but as I handle my emails by Gmail anyway, it doesn't bother me ;-)