I was fortunate enough to get an invite to Google's Gmail beta back in early 2004. As I write this today I have been a Gmail user for over a decade!
Back in 2004 Gmail was a major departure from the norms of email hosting that I was used to. At the time I was working for an ISP and hosting provider. One of the company's offerings was hosting for Microsoft Outlook. The basic plan offered a maximum mailbox storage size of 100 megabytes. Contrasting that with Google's initial free offering of 1 gigabyte of storage for free and focus on concepts like "search don't sort" had me instantly hooked. This was a better design based on a smarter way to work. Google managed to make tons of money without charging exorbitant Microsoft prices. I was in the cloud. I was hooked.
In the past 10 years many improvements were made and many new services were added to the Google family. There have been major positive and negative headlines about Google and its services. After all of it, I’m happy with the choice to make it my primary email provider.
Now Google has given me that same rush that I got in 2004 when the I fell in love with the Gmail interface. It’s called Google Inbox. Google Inbox is a beautiful, minimal and functional email app.
“Built on everything we learned from Gmail,” proclaimed the initial announcement. I glossed over this statement unaware that it was truly aimed at me.
Many folks are like me, using their Gmail inbox as sort of a to-do list. Emails that sit in my inbox are there because they require some action on my part. If an email no longer requires action I archive it. I don’t need to see it anymore. I can always search for it later if I need some of the information it contains.
I get tons of email, over 100 pieces per day. Most of it is junk, not spam, but things I glance at and never open. Gmail has been sorting that low priority stuff for me for quite some time.
It’s these last two concepts that are the cornerstones of my email use. They just so happen to be two of the most important features of Google Inbox.
When I first tried Google Inbox my eyes didn’t initially adjust to it. Different types of messages had their previews styled differently. The whole cavalcade of appearances blended into nothing and I closed the window, heading back to standard Gmail. I wonder if others did the same thing. It’s a bad habit of mine not to give something enough time. After some reflection I realized that I hadn’t given it a fighting chance and I made an important decision. I was going to use Google Inbox no matter how much I hated it. I needed to see if it grew on me. My advice to other users planning to try it out is to force yourself to use it for a day. Focus on the basics of sending and receiving email. Once that is familiar start pinning things to the inbox or adding reminders.
I’ve been using Google Inbox on my desktop and handheld device for a couple weeks now. The greatest benefits are better organization of actions related to my inbox and faster sorting through low priority material. I’m more efficient with my email and I’m spending far less time sorting through the junk.
Perhaps I’ll write a blog post about moving on from Google Inbox in another 10 years.
Lifehacker published this post about how Google Inbox works that is also a good reference to help gain an understanding of what Google Inbox is all about before you try using it.