[Tim Lepczyk is the Director of Faculty Instructional Technology at Hendrix College. You can follow him on Twitter at @thirdcoast.--@JBJ]
Google’s new app and interface for Gmail, concisely named Inbox, tries to streamline email and thus make “inbox zero” more attainable and less something one needs to chase. Currently, the app is available through invitations only, but one can request an invite through a friend or through Google.
The idea behind Inbox is that email is a task and the goal is to quickly pare down your emails by identifying what’s important and what can be archived. Inbox comes with premade categories or bundles for types of email: promos, social, updates, finance, purchases, travel, forums, and low priority. You can set up your own custom labels to bundle email as well.
As emails arrive, they are bundled together in the aforementioned groups and labels.
I’ve created one label for family. Each bundle and email has a little gray checkmark next to it. By clicking or swiping the checkmark, you can archive the whole group of email. Also, you can use the pin icons and “pin” emails in place so they are not archived when you mark a bundle as being done.
Another option for dealing with individual email is to mark it as snooze by clicking on the small clock icon in between the pin and checkmark icons.
There are convenient, premade times you can choose from, or if you need to be more specific, you can create your own date and time. Another option, if you’re using the mobile app, is to select a physical place, through location services, for the email to show up again in your inbox.
When you’ve moved everything out of your inbox through archiving or snoozing, your screen turns blue and the sun comes out.
Navigation in Inbox is through a top menu bar and a main menu which is accessed in the top left. In the top menu, you can access Google Hangouts, other Google products, and see Google+ notifications. The pin icon switches screens and shows just the pinned emails from your inbox. Think of it as a simple filter that allows you to come back to emails that need more attention.
Not only can you write new email by clicking the red circle in the bottom, right of the screen, but you can also create reminders for yourself that work similar to snoozing an email.
When creating a reminder, you’ll see a pop-up screen that looks similar to the image below.
All of the different types of email and reminders can be reached through the main menu. The archive or “all mail” has been renamed “done” and you can access everything that you’ve completed here. A list of keyboard shortcuts can be found by pressing “shift + ?”
I’ve used Inbox for a month and it’s improved my email experience. I’m able to quickly scan through email and archive things from listservs, social networks and promotions. If I don’t have time to respond to an email, I use the snooze function so it reappears in my inbox the next day. What I like about the snooze function is it shows how long an email has been on snooze. By using a timestamp that updates, procrastination becomes more obvious. Inbox is available for Android, iOS, and Chrome. Currently, other browsers do not work with Inbox.
If you’ve used Google’s Inbox, what’s been your experience?