Google launches Inbox: Can it really make email useful?

Inbox isn't the new Gmail, but a separate take on managing that neverending email flow. The invite only Google Now-ish app could come in handy if it delivers on what Google is promising.

Google has launched an invite-only app called Inbox that aims to make email more useful and preview next-gen capabilities.

Inbox isn't the new version of Gmail as has been speculated, but Google used the same team to create the app. The overwhelming problem is that there's too much email to wade through and it's become a chore and productivity killer.

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The thing to note here is that for years there have been efforts to eradicate the inbox. First, social networking or derivatives of it were going to make email irrelevant. Then we got various structures and tools to sort and make email smarter. Bottom line: We're still using a ton of email.

So props to Google for realizing the reality and spinning email a new way.

In a blog post, Sundar Pichai, head of Android, Chrome and Apps, explainded that Inbox creates bundles of email and groups it together, highlights important information at a glance, and provides reminders as well as a snooze button. The design is in keeping with Google's Material Design theme.

Other things Inbox can do include:

  • Marking tasks as done by swiping to right. 
  • Speed dialing a friend with a red + button. 
  • Pin items to come back and address. 
  • Create custom message bundles. 
  • Find travel docs, photos and other critical information without opening the email.

Think of Inbox as a mashup of Google Now and Gmail. The apps are available on Android phones running Jellybean 4.1 and higher as well as iPhones on iOS 7 or higher. On the desktop, Inbox is available via the Chrome browser, but Google plans support for other browsers.

I'll be trying Inbox out to assess Google's email reinvention. I could use all the email help I can get.

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