Google’s new take on email, Inbox, adds several interesting features as an alternative to the traditional list-view style of email. While not replacing their long-standing service, Gmail, the Inbox app represents an opportunity for users to experience a different way to get through emails. With the ability to focus on and tackle only the important emails in your inbox, the new app has the potential to increase business productivity. Let’s take a look at four new features that can help you achieve more in your day-to-day.
Do you ever have those emails that you just need to keep in your inbox no matter what? Perhaps a reminder for an appointment or an email with an attachment you need to reference on a consistent basis? Inbox’s pinning feature allows you to have those emails consistently appear at the top of your inbox. Similarly to Gmail’s starring method, it highlights those emails that are important and ensures they stand out from the rest of your crowded inbox for easy viewing and reference.
Inbox will also read these emails and create contextual cards, similar to those found in Google Now, Google’s personal assistant application. For instance, if you have an email containing all the relevant information for a trip you’re taking, Inbox recognizes the information you’re saving and formats it so it suddenly becomes an easy-to-read trip itinerary. As Inbox learns which of these cards you find useful, they serve as a great time saver by storing consolidated information without the need for a separate note application.
We receive more emails now than we ever have–particularly on smartphones: 68% of Gmail opens come from mobile devices. Sifting through these on a daily basis is a time-consuming, tiring task that never seems to reach its completion. To combat this, Inbox will automatically “bundle” certain messages together into groups based on their content and their sender. Functionally, these emails appear as a single group within your inbox ready for you to dive into and respond or even archive for a later date. Say you’re currently looking for a new apartment–Inbox allows you to create a bundle specifically for your apartment search so all your correspondences and apartment leads are held in one place and not taking up space sporadically around your inbox. Over time, the app will learn exactly want you want to go into these distinct bundles. Therefore, at least during the initial phase of establishing bundles, it’s likely a good practice to monitor the messages Inbox is bundling together. Before the app has sufficiently learned your preferences for what goes where, it would be easy to overlook or miss particular messages that have been mistakenly categorized as something they are not.
Bundling enables the productive email user to pre-sort email as it comes to them. A useful analogy would be an Outlook user who creates hundreds of rules for incoming mail to sort and respond to. Inbox attempts to do this sorting automatically to keep your relevant email in the forefront where it needs to be.
For those among us who use our email inboxes as a kind of to-do list, Google has you covered here too. A “done” folder specifically houses those tasks or emails you have completed and can be referenced again at a later date. A popular productivity method is to have users send emails to themselves as reminders of tasks or even shopping lists. The “done” folder serves as storage for these completed tasks.
Marking messages as “done” can also be applied to bundles of emails. This way all emails related to online purchases or promotional items can be quickly scanned through and banished from your inbox all at once. Again, this is potentially an enormous time saver in cleaning out your inbox.
Reminders allow the user to add some personal assistant-like functionality directly from their email inbox. Emails can also be paused for a set period of time so that they disappear from your inbox only to reappear when they’re needed. Similarly, snoozed emails can be brought back to the inbox based on the location of the user and their smartphone. For instance, say you have an email reminding you of your grocery list for the week. By tying a reminder to the location of your local supermarket, any time you’re in the area that reminder will reappear and notify you it might be good opportunity to go shopping. There are a great number of possibilities here, and as with Inbox’s other features the underlying concept is to keep your inbox clear of irrelevant messages and bring relevant messages to the fore only when they’re appropriate.
Inbox’s aim is to intelligently automate certain aspects of email so important information is more readily available if and when it’s needed and to exclude unwanted information from view. This makes time with your email more productive–allowing you to get to the important messages more quickly. While automation certainly has the potential to be a huge time-saver, users must be careful, especially in the beginning stages. The bundling feature has the capacity to cause users to overlook particularly important emails and cause them to become lost in the flood of emails we all deal with daily.
Have you had a chance to check out Google Inbox? If so, what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.