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Google looks to reinvent Gmail with Inbox

We're sure this won't cause any panic or consternation whatsoever.


Eric Geller


Posted on Oct 22, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 8:50 am CDT

Attention Gmail users: Change is coming. Google on Wednesday announced a radically different email experience, called Inbox, that the company says will eventually replace its widely used and enormously popular Gmail servce.

Google gave Farhad Manjoo from the New York Times an exclusive look at the product, which has a very different interface and aims to fulfill slightly different goals than the feature-packed Gmail does at present.

Image via New York Times

“Inbox isn’t an upgrade to Gmail. It’s a long-term replacement for it,” Manjoo wrote. Although Google still plans to develop new features for Gmail in the short term, “Inbox is meant to be your email system for the next decade.”

The reason Inbox is already so controversial among the tech press is that it completely replaces the message-list experience of Gmail with a feed of information that closely resembles a social network.

“I wish my email had previews of messages that share the overall aesthetic of a social-networking feed,” said no one ever. #gmail #inbox

— Chris Taylor (@FutureBoy) October 22, 2014

Seriously, @gmail, I’m not trying to be funny — what widespread user problem were you trying to solve with Inbox?

— Chris Taylor (@FutureBoy) October 22, 2014

Building on the success of Google Now, Inbox will present you with social-network-style updates on your life, from flights to purchases to appointments. Google is integrating reminders into the communication features of Inbox, and these reminders will pull relevant data from the Web. The example Manjoo gives is that you could set a reminder to “call my dentist” and Google would automatically add your dentist’s contact information and availability to the reminder.

The social-network asthetic will highlight content from messages that you can access without digging into the messages themselves. For example, Manjoo writes, “When your friend sends you some photos, you see the pictures right on the main screen, and you can flip through and dismiss them without going into the message.”

Google did not announce a launch date for Inbox, but according to the Times report, it will first be released on Android, iOS, and the Web “on an invitation-only basis.” You know what that means, folks—time to find a friendly tech blogger who will slide you an invite so you can look cool opening Inbox in front of all your friends.

Screenshot via YouTube video

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*First Published: Oct 22, 2014, 3:12 pm CDT