It was only a matter of time. Google has finally killed Inbox, which, since its release in 2014 up until the last several months, served as the testing ground for experimental but incredibly useful features that would later come to the main Gmail app.
Inbox introduced the idea of bundling emails together to avoid inboxes that look like maelstroms of clutter. It was also the first place to receive features such as reminders, snoozing, smart replies, and more — all now baked into Gmail.
But now, Inbox is dead. It's literally inaccessible. Google gave fans plenty of time to prepare for the transition, announcing back in September that it wanted to take a more focused approach to email. There's zero chance of Inbox ever coming back, so the best thing to do is make the switch to Gmail. Or perhaps try another client that's just as good, if not better in some ways.
Inbox wasn't perfect, but it was incredibly feature-rich. It felt as if Google got what email was all about — putting the important things front and center while also giving people control when it comes to less important emails. There might be no perfect replacement for it, especially for those who loathe Gmail. But one of the several alternatives listed below might just do the trick.
Inbox Alternative: Spike
Spike, available as a web, macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android app, treats email a bit differently than others. Whereas clients will typically show content in their original form, Spike treats them as threads, displaying emails as if they're chat conversations. Here, threads are in bubbles, as on Slack or Facebook Messenger.
This can be a bit off-putting at first, and those who prefer looking at emails in the traditional way will probably hate Spike's aesthetic. It doesn't have Inbox's bundling magic, sure, but Spike has its own method of combining emails to make them easier to sort, track, read, and delete. It's also incredibly intuitive since probably everyone is familiar with the chat interface, so there's practically no learning curve to struggle with.
Available on iOS and Android, Newton is a popular email that died but was shortly resurrected when Essential bought the company behind it and introduced cheaper pricing. Why pay for email, though? Especially with the dearth of solid free services out there? Well, with Newton, there's a snooze, category creation, email scheduling, and it can integrate with app such as Evernote and Pocket. Those looking for a productive workhorse might feel at home with Newton.
Spark has long been one of the top email choices on macOS, and it just launched on Android, just in time to replace Inbox. Spark has much of the same features as Newton, but it's completely free, and it's special in that it focuses on collaborative features. With Spark, teams can co-write emails in real time. Those who work with a lot of people will love this app.
Not to be overlooked is Microsoft's excellent email client for iOS and Android. Back then, Outlook and email were — if translated to today's internet pop culture currency — meme material. However, Microsoft has done a great job removing Outlook out of that rut, giving it features that make it just as great as the other options.
Outlook's standout feature is a Focused inbox that prioritizes emails it considers as most urgent, and it offers unique extras such as calendar access, swipe gestures, and more. It looks pretty professional, as well, but not too much to look rab and dull. Millennials will find plenty to love here.