Inbox For Gmail

Google released a new app called Inbox today, but only with a limited number of users. It was designed by the creator of Sparrow (iOS app and Mac app), which was purchased by Google. Those apps still remain, not being updated, however. The Mac app is still quite useful.

Inbox is joining a long list of email clients for the phone, the most well known being Dispatch and Mailbox. Inbox is more like Mailbox, but more tightly integrated with Google mail. Dispatch is a power-users dream with full support for snippets and IMAP.

When I first read the introductory post about Inbox, several users were giving away invites. Acting quickly, I managed to snag one. I have spent the afternoon looking around, exploring how it would fit into my mobile life. Lately, I have been using Apple’s Mail app more than anything else, mainly because it works with Yosemite’s Handoff (abiliity to pick up a draft email that I have been working on my phone with and vice versa.) It’s a very cool feature, and works well, but Mail is not a great app for using Gmail.

Inbox doesn’t support IMAP or the aliases you can setup in Gmail to send from different accounts. That will be a limiting factor in how useful this app is for people, but there are some other great features which will be helpful.

Bundles

Bundles are groups of messages that are related to eachother. The default bundles are Travel, Purchases, Social, etc. The nice thing is you can create bundles out of your labels, or create bundles on the fly using the various rules (from, subject line contains, etc.) It will be a nice way to keep organized without being overwhelmed with messages.

When you tap on a Bundle, it opens up a new window, allowing you to focus on only those messages. Just like in the standard mailbox, you have the option to snooze messages, say you’re done with them, and so forth. A great way to stay focused on certain messages.

Search has always been Google’s strong point, and it is no different in Inbox. The search bar allows for all the filters you can use in Gmail (i.e. from:, in:, date:). I tested it out on messages from a few years ago, and it brought up the results almost instantly. This is a feature I know I will take advantage of, because search with the iOS Mail app can be rather tedious.

Reminders

Reminders are built into Inbox, similar to iOS’s native Reminders app. You can choose a specific time, or location (saved or do a quick search), or you can be more general about it (7pm, tomorrow, next week or some day.) You can set these reminders with mail messages, too. They call it the snooze function.

Two main differences:

  1. It resides in the Inbox app
  2. Predictive type

The first one could be a big deal for people. No more switching apps to create a reminder to do a task. The Plus button to create a new email or reminder is always at the bottom of the app when viewing a list of messages. When viewing a message, you have to make that jump out but it’s very fast.

The predictive type is quite helpful. As soon as you start typing, it brings up suggestions of tasks to do. If you start typing in “Call,” it brings up your most frequent contacts. A little time saver for us all.

Final Thoughts

Google Inbox looks like a powerful and useful app that I am looking forward to using on a regular basis. I have already put it into my main dock on my phone to take advantage of its feature set. I will be curious to see if I end up taking advantage of Reminders within Inbox more than I do the native Reminders app.

To learn more and to sign up, check out Inbox.