Already having Gmail under their belts didn’t stop Google from continuing to rethink email. Apparently it was years in the making, but only now is Inbox a reality (promising to give you focus on the things that really matter).
In a blog post announcing Inbox, Google employee Sundar Pichai described the service:
“With this evolution comes new challenges: we get more email now than ever, important information is buried inside messages, and our most important tasks can slip through the cracks—especially when we’re working on our phones. For many of us, dealing with email has become a daily chore that distracts from what we really need to do—rather than helping us get those things done.
If this all sounds familiar, then Inbox is for you. Or more accurately, Inbox works for you.”
Key features of Inbox allow you to better organize your email categories using bundles (grouping together things like bank statements or utility bills), highlight key information from important messages (with examples like flight itineraries or event information), and reminders (letting you focus on your priorities so that you don’t need to keep track of tasks and appointments, complete with a Snooze feature). Also included with Inbox are what Google calls Assists, described as little bits of information that make your life easier. As an example: if you make a restaurant reservation, Inbox will add a map to your confirmation email.
Inbox is currently in a beta phase, with used only gaining access via invitation; there is no word on when it will see open release.
Those of you who love Gmail just the way it is may need to be a little concerned: Google has a history of abandoning projects in lieu of new ideas (speaking as somebody who still feels the sting of Google Reader having been discontinued)… and it is easy to see that they have several services starting to overlap (Google Now has a lot of similar personal assistant functionality).