This post is part of a two-part series on Inbox by Gmail, and my experience using the product.
If you have not tried Inbox by Gmail, and you are a Gmail user, you should give it a shot. This service was released one year ago to the date of this post, and since then has gotten favorable reviews from the likes of DroidLife and Gizmag. I have been using this product for about two months now, and have had mixed impressions. In this post, I’ll focus on what I like about Gmail’s innovative new product.
Your reminders show up alongside your emails
Google Now has had the ability to set reminders for some time now. I’ve used it to remind me to make phone calls, buy groceries, and turn in important projects. If you have an Android phone with the Google app, you will see reminders as cards alongside weather, news reports, and other personally customized information.
For me, I like having reminders within my email because I check my email very frequently. Reminders among emails also helps me to contextualize why, or for what I am being reminded. Inbox also supports creating reminders, although I prefer to create these either on my phone or by going to Google.com and typing “remind me to …”.
Opening recent attachments is a one-click deal
Out of all the new features in Inbox, this feature has saved me the most time. Whereas before I would try to memorize filenames of recent attachments and search for them when I needed them, Inbox presents a view of the most recent attachments, right on the front page. I can click on the desired attachment, and download it or view it in my browser. While this feature “only” saves me a click to get to important attachments, over time it benefits my workflow by a significant amount.
For image files in attachments, Inbox displays a preview of that image on the front page. This is something I miss whenever I use Gmail, as I receive a lot of image attachments from friends and family.
I can get back to an email at a later time
In traditional Gmail, if I cannot respond to an unread email in time, I will mark it as unread. However, seeing unread emails in my inbox is very agitating, as I like to keep my unread emails at zero. Inbox introduces a new feature that lets you put off emails until a later time. This feature makes your emails act more like reminders, hiding them until it is time to remind you. Unlike keeping a horde of unread emails at the top of your mail, Inbox’s snooze feature aims to declutter your mail.
Quick summaries of trips, purchases, and bills
How smart is Inbox? Smart enough to read an email, digest information from it, and present it in a nicely designed summarized form. For example, flight information shows up like so:
Even though every airline sends flight itineraries in different formats, Inbox is able to standardize all of it. If you travel a lot, Inbox can tell you all of your upcoming trips just by looking at the contents of your email.
This also works for online shopping receipts. Just like with attachments, you can see previews of your receipts right from the home page. It’s much quicker than searching for a keyword such as “Amazon”, and trying to pick out the correct email.
It feels less cramped
The user interface for Inbox definitely puts more emphasis on the individual email. Gmail on the other hand, looks more like an email with a flight control panel. To illustrate the difference, I show you two screenshots of the same email on these two services:
Notice that Gmail uses a three column layout. Part of the first column is taken up by Google Hangouts chat, and the rightmost column is reserved for details about the sender, which in this case there are no details. There is also a row of controls right above the email.
Inbox simplifies the layout and goes with two columns. Your categories of emails on the left, the email itself on the right. This makes your inbox a lot less distracting, and gives your email more space to be read.
So that is it, my list of the things I do not like about Inbox by Gmail. If you haven’t done so already, you should check out the companion to this post, Why Inbox by Gmail is Terrible.