Google’s Inbox email client is going away in a couple of months, and I’m sad. As I’ve been looking around for a replacement, I realized that I never wrote about how I came to appreciate it. In fact, the last thing I wrote about it was quite disparaging, so I’d like to set the record straight.
Inbox at first felt to me like an artificial attempt to cram non-email concepts into email by limiting email’s functionality. It felt both oversimplified, and I felt that it added features I didn’t want. But over time, I did come to want those features, and I did appreciate its simplicity. I came to see Inbox as a clean, well designed, and “just right” tradeoff between features, simplicity, and power.
Key features I use:
- Snoozing emails
- Adding notes to emails by pinning them and putting a reminder at the top, typically followed by snoozing them
- Creating recurring tasks
- Treating emails as tasks and using them to manage my work
Some things that were harder to understand—what is bundling, and what is bundling in the inbox versus… I’m still confused about this. Somehow I got it working but sometimes I’m not sure how.
I’ve used Inbox to run my mail-centric life for years now. And now when I look at GMail, I have a strong aversion to its clutter, its too-many features I don’t use, its design. I don’t even like its colors: Inbox is a soothing blue, GMail is a jarring red all over the place (at least on the iPhone). I find myself hoping that someone will write a Chrome extension that makes GMail look and act like Inbox. (Update: I wrote a little CSS with Stylebot that improves GMail quite a bit.)
Someone might do that, but that won’t help me on my iPhone and iPad, where Inbox is the best, cleanest, simplest, fastest, most reliable app I’ve tried. So I want to tell the creators of Inbox: you did great work, and I’m sorry it’s being discontinued. After many years of people reinventing email, you took the best email experience and surpassed it. Many have tried this, but few have achieved it. You should be proud of yourselves and I hope you are.