Google Inbox: First Impressions

I have a particular way that I use email. I do not like unread messages. My inbox only contains emails that I need to follow up on, currently the count is fourteen. I use labels and filters. I keep on top of my emails. I have a system, and it works for my needs.

Google Inbox throws all that out the window. Email is no longer handled in the traditional sense, instead it acts as a To Do list. Messages show key elements and information without clicking into them. Hitting the Done checkmark will remove emails from view once they are no longer needed (note: this will not mark emails as read). The application bundles new messages into predefined categories. Users can customize bundles and turn existing labels into new bundle categories. Inbox also has reminders and allows users to snooze or pin messages as desired.

As a concept, I like what Google is doing with their new Inbox product. The way they treat email makes sense from a philosophical perspective. The interface is clean and easy to use. There are a lot of positive design features. But for me to use Inbox, I would need to change the way that I use email. It would require mental retraining to adjust to the new style and method of handling messages.

Though it is hard for me, I am open to change. Switching to Gmail from my old Hotmail account was an adjustment, but I knew I would not be turning back. However, I worry that Inbox will not survive. Google has rolled out new features regularly over the years, and many of those have been phased out. Buying into Inbox will change how I deal with email. If Google decides to shelve the project down the road, I am stuck trying to clean up the discrepancy between my old Gmail setup and how Inbox handled my messages. It is a scary thought for me, and one that I am not ready to handle. On the flip side, my idiosyncrasies may not apply to you. Inbox has potential and is worth checking out for yourself. It is invite only for now, but there seems to be plenty to go around.

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