A lot of you may have heard about Inbox, Gmail’s new email app for iOS and Android. You might be wondering just why Gmail decided to launch a new email app for both these platforms when it already has a pretty great email app for both platforms already out in the field for several years now. I took a look at the new app and also at the need for it to exist, which I found to be genuine. Inbox supports multiple accounts and is built on Material design which works pretty nicely on iOS. One misconception we should probably clear up about Inbox is that it isn’t just an email client, it’s also a reminder app. The reminder feature is actually a pretty great feature which we’ll go in to more detail. Also, access to the app is still invite only.
Remember inbox tabs that email introduced a while back? The Gmail app treats them like categories and keeps those emails out of your main inbox. Inbox takes a different approach; emails that are sorted into those categories appear on the main screen. They aren’t mixed with the ‘Primary’ inbox emails. The interface looks little tightly packed on a phone but the web interface is pretty nice.
The navigation drawer has some really interesting options and you’ll see here what will set Inbox apart from Gmail. The Snooze and Done tabs aren’t for tasks or ordinary reminders that you might add (though you can use it like that if you want). Inbox lets you snooze and set reminders for emails. This is not an alien or novel concept. We reviewed a Chrome extension Sortd that did something like this thought Gmail’s gone further with its reminder options.
Tap the floating plus button and you’ll see buttons for the three most frequently emailed contacts, a reminder button, an invite button, and a compose button. Tap an email that you’ve received and you’ll notice new buttons at the top that you don’t see in the Gmail app; they are for pinning the email, snoozing it, and for marking it as ‘done’.
What’s The Point Of Inbox?
Inbox isn’t for checking emails, it’s for answering them. It’s for remembering to answer emails, it’s for quickly emailing the most important people in your contacts. It’d for treating every (important) email as a task. A lot of you might be thinking that Inbox is for better email organization but if you actually use it for a few days you realize that it doesn’t come with any special email managing features. There is nothing fancy with labels involved and even your inbox categories are no longer separate tabs.
The reminder and snooze features are there to remind you to answer an email. It addresses a very valid problem; you’re out and you receive an important email that you can’t answer until you’re at your desk. You get back to the office or back home and you’ve forgotten about it until it’s late (or you’re in bed). You might have received said email during a meeting, or before you had the necessary information needed to answer it. The possibilities for postponing the answer to an email are numerous and we’ve reviewed a lot of apps, extensions, and services that were built to help you with these postponed emails. Inbox is Google’s take on it and I have to say, it’s pretty good.
Is It For Everyone?
The short answer here is . ‘No’. I’m not implying that it’s okay for some people to forget to answer an email, and not okay for others. Forgetting to answer an email, or forgetting to follow up on an email happens when your inbox is full to the brim, choking, and also constipated with emails. It’s for people who get a lot of important email, people in customer support, people responsible for ticketed tasks, people who are pulled in so many directions all day that they need assistance with keeping up with their email.
This might mean Inbox could be useful for someone in their professional life where they get close to fifty emails a day, but the app could be utterly useless to them in their person life because they just don’t get that many important messages on their personal email. This is purely a need based app and unless you are prone to forgetting to get back on an email, you shouldn’t be forcing yourself to use or adapt to this app. The Gmail app is just fine.