Today, Google announced "Inbox," which seems to be an email client for Android, iOS and the web, that focuses on "what really matters," as Sundar Pichai put it.
Inbox is brought to you by the same people who created Gmail. When Gmail appeared a decade ago, it changed everything in two ways: first, by having a virtually impenetrable anti-spam system; and second, by offering 1 GB of storage at a time when its main competitors, Yahoo and Hotmail, were offering only 2-4 MB of storage for email.
Inbox's main goal seems to be to kill email clutter and improve productivity:
“We get more email now than ever, important information is buried inside messages, and our most important tasks can slip through the cracks—especially when we’re working on our phones. For many of us, dealing with email has become a daily chore that distracts from what we really need to do—rather than helping us get those things done,” said Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice-President at Google, in a blog post.
Inbox has three systems to achieve that goal: bundles, highlights and reminders.
Bundles expands on the categories that Gmail introduced last year. All emails of a certain type will get bundled together automatically, but you'll also get to set your own filters and create your own bundles. You could receive all your bank statements or online purchase receipts in one bundle, for example. This way, such important information is less likely to get lost between dozens of other emails you may receive in a day or week.
Highlights does what the name says – it will highlight key information such as flight itineraries, event information, photos and documents sent by friends and family. You may even see useful information that wasn't part of the initial email, such as package deliveries and real-time status of your flights.
Reminders, Assists and Snooze
You can add reminders for anything you want, and then your inbox becomes the one place you need to check to remember something.
Assists is tied to reminders to make your life easier. As an example, if you set a reminder to call a store, you may also get the phone number to that store, automatically. Assists work with other emails as well, such as when you book a flight, you automatically get a link to check in.
When you can't do some of the tasks for which you set reminders, you can simply snooze them until a later date or until you get to a certain location.
It seems pretty clear that Inbox is what Google believes is the next-generation of Gmail – a much more organized and also more advanced email client that aims to make your life easier and more productive. So then why didn't Google just replace Gmail?
When new versions of a product or service appear that are significantly different, some like it, others will need time to adapt to it, and still others hate it and say they'll never quit the old version. Gmail is a highly popular product as-is, and Google knows not to force the new functionality on all of its users at once. It's best for them to discover it naturally.
If you are one of the people who wants to try it right now, you'll need to get an invite from firstname.lastname@example.org. You should be able to get one within a few hours of press time.
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