Google Inbox – Email Revamped?

Google has been sending out invites to something new they’re calling… Google Inbox.

It’s they’re new take on what email should be. If you think about it… email has generally been and functioned the same way for many many years—over a decade probably.

In that time, a lot has changed and there are a lot of other alternatives to e-mail that have become better options for people. Things like social networks, the messaging on social networks, various instant messaging services, video chats, and texting. We’re email used to be the primary way that people shared images, now there’s all kinds of things like Instagram, Dropbox, and social network galleries.

The things people use been all for as constantly evolved over the years, and as the new and better alternatives for those things pop up, people start doing those things using other means, like those I mentioned above.

So what’s in store for the future of Email? What function will email fulfill and always fulfill in the long term?

First, let’s take a look at…

Current Problems With Email

It doesn’t matter what you use Email for… the fact is that it can get cluttered fast. If you’re like most people who like to sort everything that comes in into their respective folders, you know that it can get pretty tough to keep up with all that sorting. Miss a day or two and you’ve got a whole page or more to sort.

With a river of emails constantly flowing into your inbox, comes a large ocean of emails that makes it hard to find what you need when you need it. Things like flights reservation details, receipts from your recent purchases, conversations with friends, etc. Unless you’ve done the sorting manually, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be spending a bit of time finding what you need. Wouldn’t it be great to just be able to see all of your receipts in one place without having to sort everything manually? Yes you could set up filters, but even that gets quite tedious. Plus not everyone knows how to do it, and those filters or keep themselves up to date and thus are unreliable. (eg. a “receipts” filter has all the emails of the stores you purchase from reguarly, but will not have emails of new stores).

How Google Originally Changed Email

Back in the day, the major culprits to using Email were Spam, Storage, and Attachment Sizes.

Email was fun back in the day, but it seemed like the longer you have any e-mail address but more and more spam you got every single day. And the more you tried to separate the spam from the real emails, the more Email just seemed on practical. I’m sure many AOL and hotmail accounts were abandoned simply because of being overwhelmed by spam.

As the world got quicker, and more and more people adopted Email into their daily lives, so the demand on Email storage also increased. It’s funny thinking back now, but sending an e-mail to your aunt and having that Email bounce back to you because her e-mail storage was too full, was a pretty common occurrence.

It was also quite common to try to send a couple of pictures and have it bounce back to you because the attachment size was too large. Of course, you then had to send one picture per Email. Then your friend would have to open every single e-mail individually and download the picture from each Email. Fun times!

And then Gmail came along…

I remember getting my invitation to join Gmail back in the day. I was confused and didn’t know why I would want to get a new e-mail address. Many years later, I would have been a fool to not get that new e-mail address.

Somehow, Gmail came along and solve those three problems for free. Spam almost completely disappeared, people didn’t have to worry about storage anymore now that Google offered everyone over 5GB for free, and attachment sizes weren’t really an issue anymore unless you wanted to send something over 20mb or so.

Gmail was the big game changer and has been king all these years.

With the introduction of Google Inbox, with claims of revamping email as we know it, could this be another game changer?

Google Inbox Features

When you first start using Google Inbox, you notice that it feels a bit like Google has taken all of your emails, and presents its you like a social network newsfeed, complete with headings, tags, pictures, profile pictures and thumbnails.
It feels a lot like a Tumblr or Twitter feed, and feels fairly familiar even though it’s not.

Another one of the big problems with email currently, is that it’s rather cumbersome to go from receiving a to-do task in an email to marking it down on your calendar or scheduling it for later.

In Google Inbox, that becomes an integral part of the interface, hopefully making you more productive.

You have the ability to pin emails to the top of your feed, similar to how you would star or flag an email for later, and then toggle a filter to see all of the emails that you have bookmarked. And then once you’ve dealt with that email you can unpin it from your list.

“Bundled” emails in Google Inbox is a feature the seeks to solve them need to create filters or sort all of your e-mail into categories. The thing about bundled in else is that the sorting is done completely automatically so there’s no need to update filters or sort any of your e-mail. This sounds amazing. Whether it will deliver on what it promises, and whether did well accurately bundle you know how you would normally sort it manually… is another question. Time and testing will tell.

Of course they haven’t removed the ability to create filters entirely. You can continue to create filters by creating your own custom bundles. Simply create a custom bundle, give it a name, and tell it what you would like it to filter into that bundle.

At the moment, Google Inbox only works with gmail account emails. I’m not sure if it works with google apps emails (it probably does but I haven’t tried it yet, nor have I heard from anyone that has tried it.)

One requirement to use Google Inbox is that you need to register for it on a iOS or Android phone before you can use it on your desktop. Not sure why it’s a requirement, but it is.

I have a friend who uses a Blackberry and he couldn’t start testing out Google Inbox even after receiving his invite… poor guy.

It’s still quite early for any conclusive statements on how much of a game changer Google Inbox is going to be, as it’s only been out for a couple months and it’s still in its invite phase. Regardless, it is a definite and bold shift out of the status quo of all modern email interfaces and it’ll be exciting to see how it pans out in the coming years.

Have you gotten to tinker with Google Inbox yourself?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience!  Leave a comment for me below if you’d like.

~Lisa