I’ve tried several applications that are meant to help me better manage and keep my e-mail inbox under control. The best solution I’ve used, until recently, was Mailbox, which allows you to easily snooze e-mail, archive it and, generally, get to an empty inbox faster than other options.
Now Google has its own competitor called Google Inbox, which launched earlier this week in an invite-only phase. The company seems to be inviting folks to try out its new software pretty quickly, however, and I’ve already had a chance to give it a whirl.
I’m in love.
Google Inbox groups specific e-mails together into categories, like promotions, travel and social, sort of the way your regular Gmail inbox does it. However, you can dismiss or archive all of them at once. And, better yet, it populates e-mails that it thinks (knows) are probably more important to you and highlights them.
So, for example, I’m flying later today and Google Inbox highlights the e-mails in my inbox from Delta that provide information on my upcoming trip. I can even pin the important ones, and then opt, with a small button at the top of the application, to only show my pinned e-mails. It’s kind of like flagging, sure, but it’s bigger, bolder, more highlighted.
My flight e-mails, for example, don’t just show my flight information. There’s a beautiful image at the top that displays a picture of my destination, in this case Miami, and areas where I presume it will eventually fill in details on my gate and flight status (it’s too early now, so those haven’t populated yet). I’ve heard Google Inbox compared to Google Now and, yes, it’s similar, but more like Google Now for your inbox. A smarter inbox that automatically knows what’s most important to you. Google Inbox will also highlight other things, like shipment notifications and more, so you can easily track your package without having to dig through your e-mails.
The user interface is top-notch, too. It’s gorgeous and flat. When you respond to an e-mail, it doesn’t feel as clunky as Gmail, and feels more like a chat experience. Type out your message, send it off, and move on. Images automatically populate for each contact, adding to the robust-look, and e-mail messages are formatted perfectly. When you tap a button to initiate an e-mail, it automatically brings up a list of the people you e-mail most – in this case, my family members.
I think what’s most impressive is that, for the first time in months, I’ve cleaned out my personal e-mail inbox. Everything is archived except for an e-mail chain with friends discussing a possible ski trip in February – complete with the images that are included in the chain – those aforementioned flights and an e-mail about the hotel I’ll be staying in. It’s a liberating experience, and one that I’m looking forward to using permanently.
As for my work e-mail? It’s not supported just yet, and I’m a little more worried about arching everything there. That’s a different beast, and one where I prefer to have everything recorded and intact. For personal use, however, this is an experience I’m loving.