I got my invite to try Google’s Inbox by Gmail late last night. I immediately gave it a try to see if would solve the problem of my overflowing Gmail inbox.
My first impression of Inbox is that the interface and design look really nice. It is based off Android Lollipop’s Material design standard. Instead of seeing a list of all my emails, they are sort of prearranged and grouped into bundles. For example, some recent travel emails were in a Travel bundle and some purchases were in a Purchases bundle.
Inbox also allows you to create your on Bundle labels. In my Gmail, I had some filters that labeled emails from certain people. Inbox prompted me to consider grouping those emails in a bundle. I gave it a try and it was pretty seamless.
The big difference in viewing Inbox versus normal Gmail is that it seems to highlight important stuff in your email. For example, the bundle that including emails from friends showed the emails in a Google Now cards type of display. Any pics that they had sent me displayed a small preview. It was a nice touch and a quick way to browse those emails.
My current email inbox is cluttered with tons of unread emails or emails that have been read and are just sitting there. With Inbox, it tries to steer you having a clean inbox. New stuff comes into your inbox and then you can either Snooze it to deal with later or mark it as Done. If you Snooze an email , it will move out of the main Inbox until the designated time. Then it will pop back up to the top of the Inbox to be addressed. Only time will tell if I can use this system to clean things up.
Inbox also plays heavily promoting the use of Reminders. There is a Reminders tab that has all of the reminders you created with Google Now. You can also create new reminders with a pretty intuitive interface. You can create a quick reminder or get more detailed and pick a date, time, and place.
You can also, of course, send messages. Unfortunately, the compose function is simplified and rather limited. You can attach a document, but that is about it. If you want to insert a photo or format your text with bold, bullets, etc., you will have to switch back to Gmail.
Overall, I like Inbox, but I am still not 100% sold on it. I don’t like having to switch between two apps that do a lot of the same functions. It does seem to be a huge improvement over how I currently handle emails, so I will definitely give it a try.
I think my biggest concern with using Inbox is that I am unsure how it automatically sorts my emails. I worry that something will slip through the cracks and I’ll miss an important email. I’ll keep checking Gmail until I gain confidence in the sorting methods that Inbox uses.
After only an hour or two of use, I already have a few improvement suggestions for Inbox:
- Change the name – Using a common word like Inbox is annoying. I hated that Microsoft uses the name Word. It makes searching for tips or troubleshooting issues a bit complicated. If I search for “Inbox tips,” I’m probably going to get a few links for managing your regular old inbox in Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.
- Full featured compose – I don’t want to have to switch back to Gmail to compose a message with some decent formatting. This seems like a no brainer.
- Easy switch with a Gmail view – If Inbox isn’t going to completely replace Gmail, they should make it easy to pop back and forth between the two. They could handle it sorta like Google Plus and Photos are handled. They are two separate apps, but if you click photos in Google Plus, it takes you right into the Photos app.
Invites are supposedly rolling out quickly, so if you don’t have access, hopefully you will soon. I’ll keep using Inbox and if I have an update to this review, I’ll post a link here.