Google Inbox: Initial Thoughts and Feedback

I started using the new Google Inbox with my personal Gmail account a couple of days ago. Here’s my initial impression, along with some feedback that I sent to Google.

First, it’s important to understand that people use Email in extremely diverse ways. This means that most people probably try to apply their existing Email workflows with Inbox. As a result, the experience may be very different!

Before Inbox, my Gmail workflow can be generally summed up as:

  • Daily inbox zero.
  • Mostly not using email as “todo” items.
  • Using Boomerang for Gmail to followup on sent email.
  • Using Priority Inbox (not the categories that replaced it) heavily.
  • Archiving everything that I can (search-don’t-sort).

Moving to the new Inbox, I am forced to switch from Priority Inbox to the bundles (same as categories). I will need to get used to it.

The “Done” concept is identical to archiving email, so that’s something that I can preserve from the Gmail workflow. Seems that keyboard shortcuts are the same. At least those I use regularly – y to archive-and-return-to-list, [/] to archive-and-move-to-prev/next, and j/k to move-to-prev-next.

Looks like “Pinning” is similar to “Starring” email. In practice, I used stars in Gmail to pin email in Priority Inbox, so it fits the same workflow. A nice feature is the toggle between “show all items” and “show pinned items”.

“Snoozing” is new and interesting. It’s pretty much identical to setting “Email reminders” with Boomerang, which I rarely used. I think I didn’t use it mostly because the Boomerang implementation was clunky. To make the item “jump up”, they had to reply-to-self when the reminder is due, which I didn’t like. Being able to snooze “better” may help reach inbox-zero by snoozing instead of processing, which may be good or bad, depending on my will power at the moment.

The UI is all modern and nice (material?). Bundling many items into one “UI element” is a little weird. What value do I get from seeing one line that says “Social (25) Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora and 10 others”, that I need to click to see another list of 25 items? I’m not sure what I think about it yet.

I like it that the web UI and the Android client are much more in-sync compared to Gmail. I remember avoiding a couple of Gmail-tweaks that could have been useful, but were available only with the web UI. It’s important that I can do the same things from my different devices. Yay Polymer?

There are, of course, a couple of things I don’t like (or I miss) in the new Inbox. For each of the following bullets, I submitted feedback to the Inbox team. If you agree with any – please submit it too, so the issue gets the attention it needs!

  1. Attachments are shown as big icons in the main view. They take a lot of space, but produce very little value… Especially on mobile!
  2. Not clear how to modify bundles. Couldn’t figure out how to move a specific mailing list from the “Forums” bundle to a dedicated one.
  3. Feature request: Allow “snoozing” also outgoing emails (e.g. “remind me to followup on this if no reply within X”). Like Boomerang.
  4. Feature request: Support scheduled outgoing email (e.g. “send this email / reply at X”). Like Boomerang.
  5. Support Google Apps domains! Why is it too much to ask?? O_o

To submit feedback, scroll to the bottom of the sidebar, click “Help & Feedback”, and “Send Feedback”.

I also encourage you to share your feedback that I didn’t cover!

And no, I don’t have invites yet…

  • Hildebrand (@hildebrand030)
    November 11, 2014

    5) I guess Google doesn’t want beta products in enterprise.

    • Itamar Ostricher
      November 14, 2014

      That would explain an “opt-in” approach for Google Apps domains, but completely blocking it doesn’t seem reasonable to me. As the Google Apps administrator, I should be able to enable or disable features for my domain. Especially in cases where it’s not really “enterprise” – it’s a personal Google Apps domain…

  • Hildebrand (@hildebrand030)
    November 11, 2014

    2) Could not be easier. Just click on the “more options” button in a message. It’s at the far right and has three dots.

    • Itamar Ostricher
      November 14, 2014

      Thanks 🙂 I figured it out since then. I don’t remember I saw the relevant option when I submitted the feedback, so maybe it was missing but added later.

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