Inbox by Google

It is hard to find someone who doesn’t rely on Google for email in some form. Most people just use Gmail and why wouldn’t they? The service is fantastic. Mailbox was the first app that actually did something interesting when it comes to email and their contribution is felt in Apple’s new Mail.app on iOS 8 with the swipe gestures and now Inbox by Google. Swiping to action email and snooze emails to a later time and date saves you the trouble of remembering things or using a todo app. Inbox by Google however, takes it to a whole other level.

Google has been slowly tweaking your inbox. Last year they introduced the Social, Promotions, and Updates tabs. With Inbox, your inbox now has tabs for Travel, Purchases, Finance, Forums and more. Google has already been going through your email to show your important things in Google Now like package tracking and flight tracking. Now all of this stuff happens in the inbox. It is beautifully designed. The app uses material design principles on iOS and Android with necessary changes for each OS. The glyphs used are great as expected with any modern Google app.

The actual inbox content isn’t displayed to you in a boring list like other email apps. It groups emails together by type and tries to save you as many taps as possible to access your content. Email attachments are displayed inline and can be scrolled through. Cards shown for emails have their own actions as well. You can directly track your package or check in to your flight from the cards. Archive is now Done and swiping the email to the right marks it as done. Swiping to the left lets you create a snooze for the email based on time or location. The compose button on the bottom right floats over the rest of the interface and a single tap reveals a small list of your most recent contacts and the shortcut to create a reminder.

The app is full of really great animations like recent contacts appearing over the compose button, the navigation drawer button animation when you hit search on iOS that is seen across Android 5.0 apps, and the lovely touch down animation the interface elements have. Most of the good things about Inbox on iPhone in terms of the looks are Material Design things adapted for iOS. I’m not a fan of how the send button for replies is not on the top right but above the keyboard. I also wish the app respected the universal edge swipe to go back on iOS. Tapping the top left is annoying when you should be able to swipe.

The compose window has no clutter and has light typography. The quick reply text box makes it seem like a chat app but but muscle memory will make you hit “Done” on the top right as opposed to “Send” above the keyboard. The message view has buttons on the top right that can pin, snooze, or mark an email as done. There’s also a move button that lets you throw an email into a folder in 2 taps.

The app is still invite only for some reason. Out of all the companies I never thought Google would need to resort to an invite only system for a new app, but then they got people talking about it for sure. Inbox by Google is available for free on the App Store and Google Play. Google really nailed it and I know Inbox will only get better.

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