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Inbox by Gmail – Full Review of a Revolutionary Approach.Daniel Futerman
When Inbox was first revealed to the public back in Oct 22nd 2015, I wrote – “It’s too early to say if Inbox will do to Gmail what Gmail did to Email, but I’m really excited about this whole idea and can’t wait to see it in action.”
Now I’m ready to say this: Inbox did to Gmail what Gmail did to Email, a revolution.
Inbox did to Gmail what Gmail did to Email, a revolution.Click To Tweet
If it were measurable in percentage, I’d say Inbox boosted my mobile email productivity workflow by roughly 80%.
Thanks to Inbox’s clutter free and straight forward approach, I’m able to reach “Inbox Zero” an almost daily basis (!) which is a task almost impossible when using Gmail or other traditional email clients. [ninja-inline id=4471]
Inbox by Gmail, First impressions
When Inbox was released, the guys at Google said that this product would revolutionize and forever change the way we handle email.(Senior Vice President at Google) called it a “rethink of email”. Quite a bold statement (to say the least).
My first impressions were – it’s a great looking app and the concept is cool, but it will never replace Gmail for me.
Guess what happened? I fell in love.
Inbox, my go-to email app.
After using Inbox for a few days in a row, it hit me! This is the new form of Email. I actually enjoyed using Inbox so much that it eventually found it’s way to my phone’s home screen – instead of the Gmail app!
So why did it take so long? Because I had it all mixed up. After all these years of using Gmail, I had my mind set on an approach towards email and the way it should work. But Inbox has a completely different approach, and it’s much better.
– Why is Inbox so great?
Inbox approaches your emails like a to-do list. Think about it this way – each new email is added to your to-do list and to get through your to-do list each day (i.e. Inbox zero) you have three options: mark the email as done, snooze it for later, or pin it to the top.
The core features of Inbox by Gmail:
1. Marking emails as done
When you mark an email as Done, it instantly disappears from the main screen and moves to the “Done”, or as I like calling it “Completed Tasks” archive. Emails are not deleted from your inbox; they are simply moved away from the main screen to ensure the focus stays on the emails that still require your attention.
Emails marked as Done can be easily viewed by accessing the Done tab to the left of the screen
2. Snoozing for later
Similar to marking emails as Done, snoozing an email will also remove it from the Inbox home screen. But opposed to the email being moved to the “Completed Tasks” tab, it will move into the Snoozed tab and – will return to the Inbox home screen when the time you set arrives.
To put it simply – email’s you don’t have time to handle right now can be snoozed for a later time.
For example, if you were in the middle of a meeting when you received my latest edition of the Insiders newsletter, you can simply snooze it for a later time in the day to make sure you don’t miss out on all the great content in that email (if you’re no an insiders yet you should definitely join now… It’s well worth it!).
To make it even easier, Inbox allows you to select between four pre-defined options (which vary depending on the time of day) – “Snooze until…. Later Today, Tomorrow, Next week or Someday”.
The other two options allow you to either set a custom date & time or a specific location for the email to bounce back into your inbox (i.e. remind me to reply to that email when I get to the office).
3. Pinning emails
When you pin an email in Inbox, it stays on your home screen until it is dealt with (i.e. marked as done or snoozed to later).
In a way, I like comparing pinning an email in Inbox to marking it as unread or starring it in Gmail, but way more powerful. In Gmail when you want an email to stand out, what you’d probably do is mark it as unread or in the good case – star it.
But that doesn’t make much sense because of two things – 1. You have read the email. 2. Starring an email won’t help it stand out when you get another 30 emails that day.
Pinning emails makes so much more sense because rather than indicating you haven’t read the email which is confusing and not correct, you simply say – this email is important, I want to make sure I don’t forget to deal with it soon.
The email will Pin to your Inbox tab (what I’ll refer to as the app’s home screen inside the Inbox app), and stay there until you take action and complete the task.
In the app home screen, you have the option to show only pinned emails, or show all emails. In regards to comparing emails to a to-do list, think about pinning emails as pinning as marking a task with high priority.
“Secondary” features of Inbox by Gmail
When you sweep emails in Inbox what happens is that all unpinned emails are marked as Done and, therefore, removes from the Inbox home screen. All that will be left in your inbox are high priority emails that need to be dealt with soon.
Inbox, as expected from a product by Google, has an outstanding search which will auto predict your query as you type it in the search box.
Highlights, the important info at a glance
In Gmail, finding attachments has got better and better over the years, but it’s still a pain when compared to the new Highlights feature of Inbox.
Opposed to Gmail where emails have a simple indication of whether the message has attachments or not, Inbox automatically fetches to attachments and puts them right in front of your face. Not more need to dig into your email to find that PDF you were looking for. It’s right there.
Syncs with Gmail
Since Inbox is a new tool rather than a replacement for Gmail (at least for now), it has to sync perfectly with Gmail. Any email you mark as Done in Inbox will be archived in Gmail and removed from your inbox.
Emails you Pin in Inbox will appear in Gmail’s inbox, and emails you snooze for later will be removed from Gmail’s inbox until the time you asked it to return.
Bundles, stay organized automatically
The best way to think about bundles is by comparing it to the category tabs (primary, social, updates, forums) in Gmail, but again – done in a much better and intuitive way.
Bundles automatically group emails of specific categories, and as a consequence remove the clutter from the app’s home screen and makes more sense or your incoming emails.
As the name implies, reminders allow you to add quick reminders for later on..
But to be honest, I haven’t used it that much so far. I use Google Keep for all reminders and such. And I use it all the time.
Google is currently making substantial efforts to create a unified look and design across all their mobile apps and online products. Inbox in a great example to the use of the new Material design.
As part of the material design, the compose button moved down to the bottom right-hand side of the screen which is similar to the look of the compose button in the Gmail app but slightly different. When you click on the compose button, you get quick access to the last contact you emailed, reminders and a way to invite new users to try out inbox (more on that later on).
Apart from the new compose button, both the app and website have beautiful Android Lollipop style animations which look great. Check out the introduction video about Inbox to see it in action.
Inbox transformed Gmail the way Gmail transformed Email.Click To Tweet
The only downside.
Inbox doesn’t yet work with Google Apps for Work. While this won’t be an issue for most people, as a ‘heavyweight’ user of Google apps for work (i.e. my business emails are managed by Google), it’s a pity it doesn’t yet work because that means I still need to jump into Gmail to reply to many emails.
Inbox by Gmail, Final conclusions
- Done, Snoozed & Pinned emails
- Doesn’t yet work with Google apps for work (*Update February 23, 2015 – Google announced they are working on Inbox for work accounts).
- No real integration with Google Drive.
- Takes a while to get used to, but that’s obvious after all these years with Gmail.
- The web version is rather slow.
To sum it all up – Inbox by Gmail (opposed to my initial thoughts) completel
Recent Inbox updates
- Inbox started out as an invite-only system but has now opened up to all users.
- You can now add signatures to emails in Inbox:
In the top left, go to the main menu.
Scroll down and choose Settings.
On mobile, choose your account.
Select Signature settings.
Make sure the setting is switched to On.
Enter your signature in the text box.
- Formatting is now available in reply on the web.
- Update March 19th, 2015 – Inbox has been enabled for both my Google apps for work account emails.