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November 21, 2014

Will Google’s Inbox Service Make Gmail Obsolete?

Google is a corporation that loves transformation, the constant dynamic energy of change and innovation. As a company, it has, in part, thrived and become a technology powerhouse because it is not afraid to completely reinvent any or all of its products, always aiming for improvements and for the creation of the next best thing. Whether or not Google’s legions of fans embrace all this change and transformation is another story, however, and they have learned the hard way to often ease into major change with popular products.

Enter one of Google’s most successful offerings to date: The mighty Gmail. In a way, Gmail is a problem for Google because of its immense popularity and loyalty. Any changes made to Gmail over the years have often been received with tremendous outcry and protest. (Remember when those Social and Promotional tabs first appeared? It was as if the apocalypse hit for some.) So the company that loves to innovate and polish has been backed into a corner with one of the most popular activities in the digital world: Sending email.

Instead of revamping a tool that millions are obsessed with, Google is dealing with the task of upgrading the email experience by launching an entirely new service. Google Inbox, now in beta, is the answer Google has to the question many have been asking lately: How can we evolve the process of email, and make our lives feel less cluttered and more organized?

Whether Inbox is an answer to those cries for help or just a new shade of lipstick on the same dysfunctional pig is not yet known. But Inbox is definitely different. Very different. For some, that’s a godsend. For others, it’s a nightmare. Read on to find where you stand.

What Makes Google Inbox Unique

Inbox is a vastly different beast from Gmail, and that fact is apparent the moment you login. Built more for a mobile experience than desktop, Inbox is full of animations, graphical buttons, and elements of Google’s obsession with its Material Design philosophy. It has a less is more philosophy in a visual sense, which is why it’s ideal for smaller screens. At the same time, Inbox is super rich on new organizational features that aim to make email a more manageable, less time-consuming task.

Since it’s built more for a mobile audience, information density is not what Inbox offers. Instead, you now have significantly more power in deciding how to organize each individual email. You’ll especially love Inbox if you’re a fan of turning emails into a task list. If all you do is read and respond to emails with little to no classification or organization, Inbox probably isn’t for you. If you have been hungry for more ability to group and monitor emails and segment important ones from non-urgent matters you can reply to at a later date, prepare to fall in
love.

Snooze Your Way to an Organized Inbox

One of the most notable features in Inbox is the ability to “snooze” an email based on either time parameters or your location. For time it works like this: You can snooze an email with the intention of replying in hours, a day, a week, or even randomize it with “someday”. Based on these parameters, the email will appear in your inbox again as requested. That way your emails can be out of sight and out of mind until they truly need your attention.

To snooze by location, you separate your emails into things you need to do at work, at home, or in any other physical space. The emails you mark as Office while you’re at home won’t appear back
in your inbox until you physically step back in to the workplace. In this way, Inbox makes the overwhelming list of emails we all sometimes face a thing of the past.

For those emails that require attention without the need for categorizing or organizing, Google has given us Pins. Pins are similar to the star system currently in Gmail, but on steroids. Pins let you mark the urgency of an email you intend to reply to quickly, and then unpin and thus delete. It’s therefore a lightning fast way to delineate messages that need a quick response, but don’t need to be saved nor monitored.

For Google Inbox, It’s All About Organization

Ultimately, Inbox works if you’re after a more organized and streamlined email experience. You can set reminders around the times of day you wish to respond to your messages, and flag individual emails in all kinds of creative ways. Is this the answer to your email prayers? Perhaps – if you’re a heavy user, Inbox will make your life easier. If you’re not a fan of Gmail, Inbox likely won’t win you over. And remember it is definitely still in beta mode, so know that Google is still working out usability kinks and certain issues with flow.

It also remains to be seen what the fate of Gmail will be if Inbox takes off. It doesn’t make a lot of sense that Google might maintain two separate email products, so expect the two to merge and share features at some point in the near future. That’s a road Google will have to walk very lightly, for obvious reasons; they don’t want to upset the legions of fans for one of their most popular products. Yet many of us have long lamented that Gmail needs a facelift, and Inbox delivers in spades. We shall see who becomes the belle of the email ball; for now, it’s nice to have options.

Have you checked out Inbox yet? If so, what are your first impressions?


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Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile

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