Email. You either love it, or loath it. But the inescapable fact is, email is all around us and a part of our every day lives. Whether we’re ordering a Pizza online, signing up to the latest social media site, or just keeping in contact with distant friends, email is likely coming your way. That’s why Gmail, Google’s email service, have launched a brand new app in an effort to take back control of email. Yesterday, they launched Inbox.
We first heard about Inbox over Twitter. Several people were talking about it (mainly joking “No, I don’t have Inbox, so I can’t give you an invite”). As the day progressed, those who were lucky enough to have the app were commenting on how it looked different, but that, given time to get used to it, they were going to end up liking it.
SO what is Inbox anyway? It’s a new app released by Google which will use your current Gmail address and help you organise and use it better. For example, on of the new features of Inbox is called bundles. Lets imagine you’re planning a party. Being pressed for time in you busy working week, you order everything online to have it delivered. All that shopping is going to generate emails (confirmation emails, shipping emails etc). Inbox will be able to process these emails into a bundle, so that all the emails relevant to your party will be in one view, rather than you having to go hunting for it in different folders or large lists. If the app doesn’t pick up the connection between all these emails, you can teach it, which will help it ‘learn’ what to look out for in future. The same would work for holidays/trips and flights.
But that’s not all Inbox will do for you. To save you dipping in and out of different apps on your phone, Inbox will show relevant details embedded within the email. For example, if you’ve ordered some cinema tickets, it will show you a map and traffic to the cinema within the email. Or, if you have a flight conformation, it will show you up to date status’ of your flight, as well as a link to your boarding pass (if appropriate).
There are also other features to make sure that no email gets ‘left behind’, as it were. For example, you can snooze reminders if you can’t deal with them there and then, and be reminded to come back to them when you’re available. There are also many other features which, although not ground breaking, are helpful additions to your email work flow.
So why the new app? Why not simply add all these features into the current Gmail app and be done with it. Quite simply, this is a proof of concept app. It’s trying to prove that this method would work, but not force users into using it and risk loosing customers. That’s why it’s currently under the invite only stage at the moment. If you don’t know what that means, it means that to actually use the app, you need an invite from Google to be able to link your Gmail account to it and use the app. Google + was the same when it first launched. To get an invite isn’t that difficult. You can either ask someone who already has the app to send you an invite, or you can email Google at email@example.com who will send you an invite. If our experience of when Google+ was launched is anything to go by, there will be a wait (how long is unknown) but worked well.
So far, the comments we’ve seen from current users of Inbox have been, on the whole, positive, so it will be interesting to see where Google takes it from here.
You can download Inbox from the Google Play store, but you will first need an invite to use it. In the mean time, have a look at this brief video, or visit google.com/inbox for more information.