Today Google unveiled the new Google Inbox. While Google’s announcement says that it’s not Gmail, in fact Google Inbox seems to be a layer on top of Gmail, with a bunch of enhanced features such as Bundles, Assists, Reminders, and Highlights. And, oh yes, it’s by invite only, just like Gmail was all those years ago.
Says Google, on their blog post announcing Google Inbox, “Today, we’re introducing something new. It’s called Inbox. Years in the making, Inbox is by the same people who brought you Gmail, but it’s not Gmail: it’s a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters.”
“…it’s not Gmail: it’s a completely different type of inbox…”
However, in the Google Inbox promo page (which is one of the most laborious pages ever to scroll through because you have to wait for each section to go through its little routine), they say “Inbox runs on Gmail. Everything from your Gmail is automagically ready for you in Inbox.”
So, which is it? Is Google Inbox actually Gmail on steroids, or is it something completely different?
Well, in fact, it’s a mashup of the two.
It’s pretty clear that Google Inbox is first, and foremost, an app. And an effort by Google to get on to your iPhone or Android phone. You have to get it by installing the mobile app and signing up through the mobile app – only then can you also use it from your computer (which you will do by going to https://www.google.com/inbox/).
And, let’s be honest. The Gmail mobile app sucks, so we see this part as a good thing.
Once you have the app installed and have accepted your invitation (did we mention you need an invitation? Just like you did all those years ago with Gmail), you will be able to take advantage (and make no mistake, we mean you will have to use them even if you don’t want them) of all of the new features of your
Gmail Google Inbox account. These include:
Bundles are the new Tabs. Remember Gmail’s Tabs last year? Now they are Bundles, and there are more categories, including Promos, Purchases, and Travel.
And, says Google, “You can even teach Inbox to adapt to the way you work by choosing which emails you’d like to see grouped together.”
Yay, certainly no data mining opportunity there!
It’s not just a children’s magazine any more.
Explains Google, “Inbox highlights the key information from important messages, such as flight itineraries, event information, and photos and documents emailed to you by friends and family.”
Adds Google, “Highlights and Bundles work together to give us all of the information about you that we want.”
Ok, they didn’t really say that. What they actually said was “Highlights and Bundles work together to give you just the information you need at a glance,” but we know what they meant.
Reminders, Assists, and Snooze
Google Inbox lets you create Reminders for yourself, and then provides you with Assists from Google’s vast store of data. In the blog post, they explain with examples:
“For example, if you write a Reminder to call the hardware store, Inbox will supply the store’s phone number and tell you if it’s open. Assists work for your email, too. If you make a restaurant reservation online, Inbox adds a map to your confirmation email. Book a flight online, and Inbox gives a link to check-in.”
And, of course, you can Snooze the reminders.
We personally feel that in addition to being a mashup of Gmail and a cool Inbox app, it’s also a slightly concerning mashup of an Orwellian future and a data mining now. Of course, some may appreciate having the data mining served up to their advantage.
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