Yesterday at the 2014 Inbox Love conference we got an exclusive demo of Google’s New Inbox by Gmail app. Inbox is Google’s new application for desktop and mobile devices that was released last week. Shalini Agarwal, Senior Product Manager, Gmail Inbox, shared what Inbox is all about at Inbox Love, as well as some valuable insight into the Gmail teams thinking on the future of email clients. She stressed that Inbox’s development will be driven by user feedback and that Google wants it to become a major platform for organizing communications and daily life. To add on, Agarwal confirmed that Gmail and Inbox will continue to be developed separately, and hinted that at some point in the future the features from Inbox may start to merge with Gmail.
So with that, let’s dive in to some of the key points to get ready for Gmail Inbox. Inbox was created on the tenant that inbox placement and relevancy was more important than the time an email was sent at. Agarwal commented several times that “email starts with the user and we built Inbox with the end user in mind.”
The Gmail Team tried to make an easier way to organize and manage email with Inbox. It starts to bring some of Google’s search engine DNA into email as well (although this wasn’t stated outright). When you search for “Puppies” on the Internet, you don’t get the last thing some random person posted about “Puppies.” You get a categorically scored page that matches the search term. With its new management and organization features, Inbox puts a further burden on marketers to send relevant email, instead of potential junk or spam mail. It also opens up new content opportunities that marketers can use to their advantage.
Agarwal pointed out several key features that really make Inbox stand out as a go to option for email.
Highlights: I thought this was one of the better features of Inbox. “Highlights” lets you see message content, including images and videos, right from the main inbox screen. When you hover over a message, you can swipe across the screen to see the messages content. This capability, like Grid View, represents an opportunity for marketers to make an impact by surfacing highly engaging content that their subscribers can digest and engage with quickly.
Bundles: The “Bundles” feature of Inbox lets users group messages together based on similar content. Today, Gmail has tabs and labels to help do this. When you click on a bundle, it expands the list so you can see all the emails that came in in that category. For example, you could set up a “Travel Bundle” and have all your flight, hotel, and rental car info available to you in the same place.
This is an example of a Travel Bundle that is showing Highlights. It is taken right from the main Inbox by Gmail Screen.
Snooze: Just like it sounds like, Snooze lets you hit the pause button on emails and set a reminder to look at it again. Swipe the message to the side and it automatically brings up a window to set a reminder time, or a later date. You can also send the message to the trash too.
Swipe the message to the left and a “Snooze” button appears. Then set a reminder for you to view the email again in Inbox by Gmail.
Reminders & Assist: This is a neat little feature built into Inbox. You can create “Reminders” within Inbox, and its “Assist” feature will automatically attach other useful information to the message, such as an email, address, phone number, and hours of operation. With Reminders, users can essentially create a virtual to-do list. With a simple click, for example, you can create a Reminder to set up a dinner reservation, or call your boss on an important topic.
Pin: How many of you have tried to save an email for later? Some life hacks for this have included marking a message unread, putting it in a folder, flagging it, or changing the sort order of your email. Inbox has a decent solution for this problem. The “Pin” feature let’s you “Pin” an email to the top of the inbox. There is a toggle at the top right that lets you show pinned messages only when it’s flipped on. Never lose key emails again, just “Pin” them.
This is a screenshot from the “Pin” page of Inbox by Gmail. Emails that were pinned end up here, saved at the top of the inbox for easy access. These emails also display the “Assist” feature showing relevant information in the “Highlights” pane and when they are opened too.
Overall, Gmail Inbox is a big change from the traditional email client but it’s on to something. We’ll post updates and tricks for Inbox as we learn more as well. The only way to get Inbox by Gmail today is through an invite from a current Inbox user or by emailing email@example.com to request an invitation. If you have questions or if we can help, shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.