Google has introduced a new email app, from the same team that builds Gmail, but intended as something completely different from Gmail. Inbox is the app, and it looks like it might owe some inspiration to Mailbox, and to Google Now.
The new Inbox app is available to a limited user group only, and will be expanding its user pool via an invite system similar to the one that Google used for Gmail. It is available cross-platform, however, as an app for iOS, web and Android. You can also email Google at firstname.lastname@example.org to request access, if you don’t like your chances of getting an invite from a friend.
What Inbox does differently than Gmail is present you with your information in a way that’s aimed at making content contextually relevant, instead of just presented as it comes in. Email’s evolution has resulted in an unwieldy system – what began as system for occasional correspondence from a single virtual location is now something with take with us everywhere, with a volume that can baffle users.
Inbox has a number of features to try to help email users stay on top of things, including Bundles (a way to group similar types of email together automatically, for instance all receipts); Highlights, which brings up flight information, event details, and media from close friends and family so you don’t miss them; and a variety of Google Now type features listed as Reminders, Assists and Snoozes that act as a built-in todo list, complete with contextual information finders, like listing opening hours next to a restaurant when you have a meeting there booked.
Inbox looks like a project with some promise, but it begs the question of why this needs to exist outside Gmail proper. Perhaps it’s a bit too experimental, and Google is worried about these features turning off longtime users, so it’ll keep experimental bits in this sandbox before rolling them back in.