For most people, email is an important part of their everyday lives, yet most email providers haven't quite gotten email right just yet. Google, whose Gmail is already one of the best email services available, hopes to reinvent email again with a new app that aims to eliminate the stressful parts of email and bring to users what they really want to see.
Google knows that sifting through the hodgepodge of work and personal emails combined with messages from airlines, social networks, shopping websites and a whole bunch of strangers can be a blow to productivity. That's the problem that Inbox, Google's new email app, hopes to solve.
Inbox looks like a cross between a social network news feed and the traditional email app. It still shows users all of their emails from Gmail, but this time, instead of dumping them altogether into an unorganized pile of unread messages, Inbox puts them in separate bundles that can be glanced at or done away with quickly. It's an extension of the Social and Promotions tab already found in Gmail, but users can create new bundles based on things like the sender or keywords found in messages. Users can also take a look at a single bundle and swipe it to the side to archive or delete the entire collection, depending on their settings.
Users also don't have to open individual emails to read their contents. Inbox uses Google Now's data-mining intelligence to extract all the important information in an email and from the web then present them in card-based view so users can see things such as photos, flight information, telephone numbers, attached documents and other objects. For instance, if a user receives an email confirmation of his reservation at the restaurant, Inbox also includes a map.
Inbox also allows users to snooze their emails and have them re-appear during a certain time later or when the app detects a certain geolocation. Users can also create reminders, which can also be snoozed, that sync with Google Now and pop up on their device at a date, time and place they set. Reminders come with what Google calls Assists, or packets of additional information needed to finish the task. For instance, if a user puts a reminder to buy flowers on Saturday, Inbox parses the web for the telephone number of the nearest florist.
Inbox was created by Google's own Gmail team, but the app is not meant to be a Gmail killer. Jason Cornwell, lead designer on both Gmail and Inbox, says the new app looks different from Gmail because "we're trying to solve a different problem."
"We're trying to be the best place to get back to the things that matter to you," Cornwell says. "This is kind of like an assistant putting your mail into piles to make it easier to deal with."
Inbox is available at the Google Play Store and Apple App Store but as an invite-only app. Interested users may send an invitation request to firstname.lastname@example.org or look for friends who already have Inbox on their device.