Not satisfied with the way its roughly half a billion users make use of their Gmail accounts, Google's new Inbox is at least accomplishing some of what it sets out to do.
Google's Inbox app is currently undergoing beta testing. Those interested taking it for a spin will need to request an invite via a Gmail account.
The Inbox app carries the flat aesthetics of Google's Material Design scheme across Android, iOS and desktop computers. Material Design is both an Android programming language and living philosophy for which the likes of the overhauled Google Maps and new Inbox app follow.
Following Material Design conventions, the Inbox app lays out email highlights on digital placards so that users can quickly spot important information. A confirmation email for a rental car shows a picture of the merchant and includes a pickup time, for example, while an online order displays the product and its expected date of delivery.
Rather than serve as a complement to the high-functioning Gmail app, Inbox is being developed as a replacement. The Material Design philosophy imparted in Inbox plays a big role in attracting users based on looks alone, but it's conservative use of colors breathes efficacy into the app's tabs and headers.
Along with making navigation more intuitive through visual cues, the Inbox app expands Gmail's categories into what Google is calling bundles. The Inbox sorts messages into bundles like "Purchases" and "Travel" -- users can even create new ones with a bit more control than afforded in the Gmail app.
Borrowing from other email apps, Google has given Inbox the ability to snooze messages. When a user isn't quite ready to give the necessary time to an important email, the individual can set the message to snooze for a predefined period before its delivery notification reappears.
Like Google's overhauled Calendar app, Inbox helps its users compose reminders -- the reminders are placed at the top of the inbox. When composing a reminder, the Inbox app will search through the user's email account to help him or her fill in blanks like reservation times or meeting locations.
The new Inbox app seeks to make it easier for people to find their most important messages first and simplify the search through their email archives.
The expanded category format could prove to be a bit more work for users who receive a steady stream of important messages, as they'll have the added task of navigating between bundles to review their latest batches of emails.