Monday, November 3, 2014

Google Inbox

I'm one of the lucky bastards that got an invite to Google Inbox late last week. Google Inbox is the new email app that scans your email account for important and similar information. It then presents what it considers the most important parts of the email first and groups similar emails as "Bundles" that are named by type (e.g., "Travel" or "Updates" or any custom bundle you might decide to make). It also converts physical addresses into Google Maps links and airline confirmation numbers into a flight status update. Imagine if the cards Google Now had a baby with Gmail. That would pretty well sum up Google Inbox.

Currently, Google Inbox is invite-only. If you want to try it, you’ll either need to get an invite from a current user or you'll need to send an email to inbox@google.com from your Gmail account and they’ll send you an invite when it’s ready. Once you get invited, you’ll have to install the Google Inbox app on either Android or iOS (links are provided in the invite). You should also go all-in and try Inbox on the Web, currently only available using Chrome, for a fully integrated experience.

The Google Inbox Android app has a look that's in-line with Google’s design concepts for the upcoming Android Lollipop. E-mail groups are presented in a card-based format in the center, and you can slide out the left panel to access your labels and other particulars. All of your existing mail, labels, and organizational filters are still in place, so, if you use Google Inbox, you won’t have to start from scratch. Tapping on an email brings it up, just like in Gmail’s current e-mail app.

What makes Google Inbox so useful isn’t its updated UI, though. Google Inbox has so many innovative features that it'll make your digital life easier. For example, Google Inbox now gives you the ability to mark an email as “Done” instead of just “Read.” All messages have a check-mark symbol, and tapping that will send it to the “Done” label, completely removing it from your to-do list. It’s similar to archiving mail, but more intuitive. If there’s a set of e-mails you don’t really need to read, like Social, you can click the check-slide icon to mark them all as "Done" and you won't ever have to see those annoying Facebook social update emails again. Google Inbox also gives you the ability to snooze messages for a later time. Have you ever gotten an e-mail but were too busy doing something else to think up a reply? When that happens, tapping the clock icon at the top of an open email will let you choose a time, place, or combination of both when Inbox will remind you of the mail. Until then, it goes away to keep your inbox uncluttered.

After using Google Inbox for a few days, I personally think that it's a great tool for managing my mail and if you're even remotely interested, you should try it yourself. And there's no obligation to keep Google Inbox is you don't like it. You can just remove the app from your phone and keep using the regular Gmail app.You definitely have to put in a little effort in order to effectively manage your inbox, but, once you've set up your labels, etc, Google Inbox is well worth it.

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