Google yesterday unveiled Inbox, a new email client for Gmail that takes a different approach to email. Google frames Inbox as a product that recognises we now use email in very different ways today, but email (and email clients) have barely changed.
Email started simply as a way to send digital notes around the office. But fast-forward 30 years and with just the phone in your pocket, you can use email to contact virtually anyone in the world…from your best friend to the owner of that bagel shop you discovered last week.
With this evolution comes new challenges: we get more email now than ever, important information is buried inside messages, and our most important tasks can slip through the cracks—especially when we’re working on our phones. For many of us, dealing with email has become a daily chore that distracts from what we really need to do—rather than helping us get those things done.
Google Inbox is different in a few fundamental ways, with a strong focus on some interesting features:
Bundles: Inbox will group together similar emails into bundles such as Travel, Purchases, Promotions.
Highlights: Inbox will try to intelligently highlight key information from your emails (event details, flight itineraries) and even pull in information from outside your emails (such as real-time status of a delivery or flight)
Reminders, Assists, and Snooze: Inbox also becomes a kind-of to-do app, able to remind you about emails or tasks to accomplish at a later date. This includes letting you snooze on messages until a later date.
Mailbox still has plenty of work to do, even on the homefront. There are lots of bugs in the Mailbox for Mac beta, and there are still more email services to add like Exchange and Yahoo, which Underwood says his team is thinking about. But, much as Sparrow did before it, Mailbox is paving the way towards a future where email works faster, syncs instantly between all your devices, and just acts more like the other modern communication apps we use today.
From the preview, Mailbox for Mac already looks pretty great. The “snooze to device” feature sounds genius, and I like the fact that everything (including drafts) sync fast across devices.
Mailbox is also using a “betacoin” system to handle access to the beta: users who got an invitation today received three images of golden coins, which they can share with other users to let them use the beta.
Mail Update for Mavericks includes improvements to general stability and compatibility with Gmail, including the following:
Fixes an issue that prevents deleting, moving, and archiving messages for users with custom Gmail settings
Addresses an issue that may cause unread counts to be inaccurate
Includes additional fixes that improve the compatibility and stability of Mail
I don't use Gmail as my primary email anymore, so I'm looking forward to reading reports about the stability of this update (will Joe Kissell tell us?). You can download it here or through the Mac App Store.
Apple Mail in Mavericks treats Gmail accounts differently than any previous version of Mail did. Although some of the changes are quite clever, the implementation has flaws. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I’ve seen a number of folks on Twitter complaining about some of the same things I’ve found. Here’s what I’ve observed and what you can (and can’t) do about it.
Announced last week, Google has today released an update to its official Gmail app for iOS that adds support to the new inbox and brings finer controls for push notifications.
The new inbox, configurable from Gmail's desktop website, allows you to enable different categories for "primary" emails and other messages such as promotions, social updates, or notifications from online forums. As we described the feature last week, "categories and tabs are basically pre-defined filters and labels with training wheels". Messages can be moved from a tab to another to train Gmail's algorithm in better automatic organization; currently, Gmail will try its best to automatically sort an incoming message into the appropriate category, but there isn't an option to create new custom categories from scratch.
The Gmail app now shows Inbox categories in the account sidebar, where they're listed with custom icons and colored badges for unread emails in each category. Like the desktop website, you can move messages across categories, but you can't configure the Inbox directly on iOS (the app will remind you to open Gmail "on a computer" to do that).
Gmail's notifications have been updated to reflect the change. With today's update, you can set notifications for all new mail, none, or only messages that are marked as "primary". Notification settings are available inside each account, where you can also activate your mobile signature and vacation responder.
Today, Google announced new features for Gmail that sorts your inbox into various categories for social network notifications, receipts and shipping updates, and promotions from your favorite shopping sites. While Priority Inbox made an attempt to surface only the stuff that really mattered, categories breaks the inbox down to a series of tabs that should help cut down on some of the clutter. Categories and tabs are basically pre-defined filters and labels with training wheels.
On the desktop, the new inbox groups your mail into categories which appear as different tabs. You simply choose which categories you want and voilà! Your inbox is organized in a way that lets you see what’s new at a glance and decide which emails you want to read when.
Categories for Android, iOS, and the desktop will be gradually rolling out to Gmail users and their respective app stores over the coming weeks. In the meantime, be sure to check out The Verge, who have an initials hands-on with the latest features.
An update to the official Gmail app for iOS released today brings a series of welcome improvements that users had been requesting since the (re)launch of the client last year.
The first notable addition is support for signing out of individual accounts. In older versions of the app, users were forced to sign out of all accounts at once, a tedious process that didn't make much sense considering the app had a dedicated section for accounts that could use better sign out options. In today's update, you can tap & hold an account's avatar in the sidebar to bring up a Sign Out button in a popover at the bottom.
The new version of Gmail also works nicely with Google's other apps for iOS: from the Settings, you can now specify whether YouTube, Google Maps, and web links should directly open in Google's native app replacements or a mobile web view. These options are available in the Settings screen for each account, but they will be enabled for the entire app, not single accounts.
The last new feature, also shown in the app's updated walkthrough, are search suggestions as you type. While Gmail has always been able to search across all your mail, today's version brings suggestions that (based on initial tests) should match addresses and subject lines found in your account.
Evomail, a new Gmail client for iPad released today at $2.99, wants to fill the void left by the announced-but-never-released Sparrow for iPad, providing an alternative to the largely web-based official Gmail app and the upcoming (?) Mailbox for iPad. To differentiate itself from iOS’ native email client, Apple’s Mail app, Evomail focuses on three main areas: a new, modern design; push notifications; and tight integration with Gmail. The first version of Evomail is good, but rough around (many) edges.
As I've also found out, you can add a to= parameter to pass a URL-encoded email address to which an email will be sent to. Unfortunately, my tests also confirmed that a similar from= parameter isn't supported, and that this undocumented URL scheme doesn't support x-callback-url, unlike Chrome. So, it's not possible to return to a "calling" app after an email has been sent or the compose screen dismissed. I've also noticed how this URL scheme isn't particularly reliable at bringing up the compose screen if the app wasn't paused in the background (such as in a cold start); this is probably the reason Google isn't publicizing this URL scheme -- it's not ready yet.
Keep in mind that the URL scheme may fail if Gmail wasn't paused in the background (it'll show a splash screen when loading again). I'm looking forward to improvements to the URL scheme, as Google has been doing a great job with these lately.