Other businesses using Gmail will be interested to know Google launched a new feature last month: Inbox by Gmail. It’s supposed to solve the common problem of chronically overflowing email inboxes by sorting through your messages, filing less urgent emails and reminding you about the important ones. Should you make the switch? We go through the pros and cons.
1. Pro: Axe large numbers of less important emails
One of Inbox’s features is it scans and automatically sorts your incoming emails. Important ones go to your inbox, but everything else gets ‘bundled’ into seven categories: Updates, Forums, Promos, Finance, Purchases, Social and Low Priority. You can set Inbox to leave you alone when a message gets ‘bundled’, set certain bundles to pop up once a week or every 24 hours and best of all, mark as ‘done’ or simply delete entire bundles at once.
2. Pro: Change your mind after sending an email
Ever felt a moment of blind panic after pressing ‘send’? Inbox has the answer: 15 seconds to change your mind. Just tap ‘undo’ at the bottom of the screen to catch the message before it leaves your outbox.
3. Pro: ‘Snooze’ messages for later
Inbox has a feature which allows you to ‘snooze’ messages, so they disappear into the snooze folder then reappear in your inbox time of your choosing, anything from later that day to tomorrow or even next week.
4. Pro: Reminders to respond to emails
With Inbox, you can make a note of what an email is supposed to remind you to do, rather than relying on the message itself to jog your memory. After pinning a message, just tap ‘remember to’ then type in whatever it is you need to remember, e.g. call a contact or meet someone. Inbox can suggest a reminder after scanning the content of the message and also allows you to check all your reminders at once.
5. Pro: ‘Pin’ messages to your inbox
If you like a tidy inbox and tend to file away messages into subfolders, you’re faced with one problem: you might forget to send a reply. Thanks to Inbox’s ‘pinning’ feature you can keep a message ‘pinned’ to your inbox, even if you’ve already added a label to the message.
6. Cons: Inbox only works with Gmail
As the name suggests, Inbox by Gmail only works with Gmail accounts. If you use Outlook, Yahoo, iCloud or another service, you’ll have to go without. However the Gmail mobile app recently began to support third-party email providers, so perhaps Inbox will eventually follow suit.
7. Cons: No ‘All inboxes’ option
For those with multiple Gmail accounts, there’s no ‘all inboxes’ feature. Instead you have to switch back and forth between inboxes. However Gmail for Android recently added an ‘all inboxes’ option so perhaps Inbox will too. However in the meantime the lack of universal inbox is a big disappointment, given the whole point of Inbox is to help make emails more convenient.
8. Cons: Inbox takes time to learn
Although Inbox does a fairly good job of sorting through emails and placing them in the right bundles, it will make mistakes initially. This means you will have to go into various bundles to move sorted messages around, for example a shopping receipt might end up categorised as ‘Low Priority’ instead of ‘Purchases’. On the plus side Inbox will keep track of messages you move and remember for next time. However initially all the resorting and reshuffling can feel annoying.
9. Cons: You can’t mute message threads
One of Gmail’s good features is its ability to mute annoying message threads. Once muted, they will skip to your inbox until unmuted, or when one of the participants forwards a message solely to you. It’s a handy feature, but sadly missing from Inbox. It could turn up in a future version, but for now you’ll have to put up with all those endless round-robins.