Google Wants to Reinvent Your E-mail Inbox

October 23, 2014

Google is touting its new e-mail product this week called Inbox, which it says will offer a better way to organize your messages. The company says it hopes Inbox will change the way your inbox looks and works.

Inbox will coexist with Google’s flagship e-mail product, Gmail, and will not be replacing it. Users will be able to switch back and forth between Gmail and Inbox when logging in to their Gmail accounts.

Google has been working on Inbox for the past two years trying to figure out how to make e-mail easier to use from desktops, smartphones, and tablets.

Given the time people spend in their inboxes, "making e-mail better for e-mail users is a priority for Google," Brian Blau, Gartner's research director of consumer technology and markets, told USA Today. Other major e-mail providers have been following suit in recent years trying to bring e-mail into the 21st century.

Among the new features that Google’s Inbox touts: Easier organization of e-mails, automatic highlighting of key message information (like itineraries or event information), flagging messages to reappear in one's inbox at certain times, better scanning of factual information contained in messages, and real-time related information displayed with messages.

For example, Inbox allows users to take advantage of a Bundles option, which will automatically group similar messages, such as receipts or bank statements, and then allow you to swipe them all away at once. From the e-mail preview, you’ll get more of an overview of the factual information contained in a message, like phone numbers, document attachments, and images – without having to open the actual message. Inbox offers real-time status of a flight you booked online or a package you have being delivered to your home for easy tracking. You can also set reminders on the top of your e-mails – such as to check on one of your clients on a home inspection or other work task reminders. Inbox offers a “snooze” e-mail feature, which you can use to have the message returned to your inbox later or when you arrive at a specific location so you can review it then.

Google debuted Inbox on Wednesday and it’s available by invitation-only for use on Android and iOS systems, as well as desktop in Chrome. Google is sending invitations to users, or you can e-mail inbox@google.com to receive an invitation.

Source: “Google Debuts Inbox, a New Way to Stay on Top of E-mail,” USA Today (Oct. 22, 2014) and “Google Unveils Gmail Alternative: ‘Inbox,’” CNET.com (Oct. 23, 2014)