Inbox by Google: A Review of the Inbox That Works for You

10/24/2014 Stephen Colbert 5 Comments


Google has gone a long way to unite many services under the Google Now umbrella, the newest being Gmail.  Google Inbox is just that, an inbox, but it's a fresh (if not 100% original) take on email.

First, forgot your preconceptions about email.  This is different.  Think about how you use the internet, how you communicate, and what comes in and out of your inbox.  Bills, travel plans, advertisements, purchase receipts, invitations, social media notifications, and maybe some correspondence.

That's not the way traditional email inboxes were built.  Traditional inboxes were designed as a digital representation of snail mail, but email is not primarily a communication tool anymore.  We use social media and SMS to communicate now, with email now serving the purpose of transmitting and storing data of the types mentioned above (bills, receipts, etc).

Organization

Google Inbox gives you the tools you need to properly take control of this new data.  I've always tried to keep my inbox at 0 unread messages for my personal gmail, but that's nearly impossible with some of the stuff that comes through.  Even when I manage to finally parse it all down to nothing, a few days of inattentiveness and I'm back at a couple hundred unread messages again.

Google Inbox takes the fundamental tools of Gmail, such as labels and filters, adds a dash of Google Now features, and gives you a means to properly leverage various rules to keep control of your inbox.

Several months ago, Gmail updated with tabs such as "Social" and "Promotions," into which it would sort mail in order to de-clutter inboxes.  This didn't solve any problems for me, though, because I now have just as many unread emails as before, they're just swept under the rug into different tabs.

Bundles

This is where bundles comes in.  Bundles is the logical evolution of Gmail tabs, but instead of a tab, it's all in the same "inbox," just bundled, almost like a thread.  There are many predetermined bundles, like Finance, Travel, Purchases, Finance, Social, and Promos, but you can easily create your own bundles, for example, the first two I created were "Fantasy Football," and "Geek5auce notifications."

Bundles work just like filters, but it puts mail into categories that allows sweeping actions to be taken to keep organized.  For example, I don't need real-time email updates for social media, purchases, Finance, or Promos, so I can set those bundles to only display once a day, or once a week at a given time.

Now, once a day, I can sort through a bundle, "pin" any email I think needs further review, then I can "sweep" the rest of the bundle away.  Swept emails are archived and out of sight, so it's an easy way to keep your inbox very clean without having to take individual action on each and every message.

Snooze

Just like an alarm clock, individual messages can be snoozed to show up at a more relevant time.  Snoozing can be done so the message returns tomorrow, next week, "someday" (random), or at a custom time.  Again, this allows you to keep low priority emails out of sight until a time that you're actually ready to read them.

I've had over a dozen unread or starred emails just lurking at the top of my inbox for a few weeks now, because it was relevant to a task I needed to complete.  A reciept with my redemption code for a training class I registered for, wedding itinerary for a friend's wedding, plans to go to the Apple Orchard next weekend, etc.  None of them were immediately relevant, but they were all just... lurking.  The first thing I did when I activated Inbox was snooze each of them to go away and reappear closer to the time that I needed the information.  Combined with some pinning and sweeping, and a long neglected inbox was impeccable in as little as 30 minutes.

Reminders

Inbox also presents a better interface to manage any reminders you set through Google Now.  When you look at how Google's Inbox really works, everything is task oriented, making reminders the perfect fit.  Every email you get is a task to be completed.  Obviously the priority and relevance varies by message and source, but why should your credit card bill (a reminder to pay your credit card) be located somewhere else than the reminder you set when you tell your phone "O.K. Google Now, remind me to pay the parking meter in two hours"?

Not that Gmail Inbox (I'm not sure on the exact branding, so I just use variations of "Google," "Gmail," Inbox," and "by") isn't suited for correspondence as well, but the way we use email has evolved a lot since our free Juno accounts in 1997.  Inbox by Google is merely an adaptation to enable us to use email in 2014 the way we've been trying to.

My Inbox is clean.  I love it.  If you've had a chance to use Inbox, let me hear your thoughts in the comments, or if you're still waiting on an Invite, let me know in the comments, and I'll try to give some away as I receive more!

5 comments:

  1. Great review! Looking forward to trying it out!

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  2. Can I get an invite? Your review is awesome and I would love to try it out!! jordanelliott84@gmail.com

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  3. Any chance of a video review as well? Would like to try it out myself...

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  4. comprehensive review, definitely seems like a good product, still looking for an invite myself, would love one if you have to spare, marsch15 at g

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  5. Please can I get an invite? Ritesh.makan@gmail.com

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