Inbox by Gmail

Ed Orozco
Ed Orozco
Mar 23, 2015 · 4 min read

So I’ve been using Gmail’s new app called Inbox.

Inbox is Gmail’s bet on how a smart email service should interact with their users. Packed with a wealth of animations and fun colors, Inbox by Gmail presents a radical new way to manage the content in our mailbox and it’s a remarkable step towards a more efficient way to handle email in general.

But what it so different about it?

Categories

For starters, Inbox parts from Gmail’s attempt of categorizing incoming messages into separate mailboxes and takes it one step further. Reading the content in your email (don’t get all shocked, Gmail has been scanning through your email for a while now) Inbox searches for keywords inside that will help it determine where to put each message. That’s when the real magic of its interface begins.

Interactive previews

Depending on the kind of message, Inbox presents the message’s content in an interactive way that will help the user interact with it quickly, intuitively and, quite often, without even opening it.

For instance, when you receive the itinerary for a flight you just booked, Inbox will show you a preview of it with the departure times, names of airports and even a small thumbnail with pictures of the cities you are flying from and to. For round-trips or multiple-stops trips, you can scroll sideways to see the entire itinerary without ever opening the message.

Now, for those who already use Google Now, you will find it quite familiar that Inbox will send a push notification to your phone prior to your departure to remind you of the time of your flight.

Easy access to attached files

Another time-saving feature of Inbox is it allows you to preview attached files without opening the message. This way you can easily access the files contained in it on the go. This is particularly useful for threads of messages where many modified versions of the same file have been sent back and forth.

Snooze messages for later

This is a feature popularized by Dropbox’s Mailbox App. The idea is to save messages you don’t really have time to deal with at the moment into a specific folder and the app will bring them back later to your inbox at the time of your choosing.

Snoozing options comparison (Inbox is on the left)

Now as an ex Mailbox user, I can frankly say Inbox’s snooze feature is not nearly as easy to use, nor as helpful as it could be. The snoozing options are very limited e.g. either tonight or tomorrow and if you are used to Mailbox you will find it a little frustrating.

Mailbox’s snoozing options are far ahead of Inbox’s both in usability and features.

However, the “Select Place” option eases my frustration as it allows the user to schedule a particular message to be brought back at a certain location-based on your GPS.

Say you receive a special discount for some store, you can tell Inbox to bring back that particular message with the discount next time you are near to that store.

The user interface

The whole app is beautifully animated and colorful making it very pleasant to user, however, the UI can be confusing sometimes as many important icons, like the trash bin, are hidden under a drop down menu and, on the desktop version many icons won’t show up unless you hover the mouse over the right area.

Final word

Inbox is certainly a very useful email app. It has many interesting features that allow users to do more with the content of their emails in a more efficient way. As it is still in its BETA version, there’s a lot of bugs and things to be fixed. But Google has been rolling out updates quite frequently every month.

If you want to try it out, you can ask for an invitation at inbox@google.com.

What you think of the Inbox? do you like it? what’s your favorite feature?

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Originally published at uxdoodle.wordpress.com on March 23, 2015.

Ed Orozco

Written by

Ed Orozco

Product designer, Head of Strategy at WANDR, member of AIGA, language learning aficionado, mate drinker, space and science geek, guitar hobbyist.

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