Google Inbox Goes To Work - InformationWeek

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2/23/2015
02:25 PM
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Google Inbox Goes To Work

Google Apps for Work customers will soon be able to try Inbox by Gmail.

Inbox by Gmail, Google's attempt to make email messages more manageable, will be available in March to a limited number of the company's business customers.

Google Apps for Work administrators can email [email protected] to apply to participate in the early adopter program. Alex Gawley, director of product management for Gmail and Inbox by Gmail, said in a blog post that Google wants organizations that: will use Inbox as their primary email client at work; have employees who use mobile email heavily; and want to partner with Google on user studies. Gawley said Google plans to work closely with these early adopter companies before expanding its program over the coming months.

Launched in October through a limited number of invitations, Inbox aspires to make communication via email more productive. "Inbox wasn't created to reinvent email. Inbox was created to help you reinvent the way you get things done," Gawley writes.

Inbox organizes email into related groups (Bundles) to make messages more manageable, and presents important data from messages (Highlights) more prominently. It lets users create their own Reminders and will attempt to augment Reminders and incoming emails with contextual data called Assists. For example, a restaurant reservation email might receive an Assist in the form of a Google Maps graphic, in order to enhance the utility of the message.

Image: Google

Image: Google

A Google spokesperson declined to provide data about Inbox usage, but said, "We've been really happy with the response so far."

As a means of surfacing important data in email messages that might otherwise remain hidden -- flight departure times, for example -- Inbox does well. But it may not immediately appeal to those who have grown comfortable with lists of messages sorted by time. Collapsing messages into groups makes the inbox less cluttered, but it also makes the whereabouts of older messages less obvious. Inbox assumes people will use the search box, rather than visual scanning, to find messages.

Email remains the most popular tool for online knowledge workers. The Pew Research Center in December published a study that found 61% of survey respondents said email is "very important" to their jobs, making it more significant than the Internet, landline phones, or mobile phones (never mind that the Internet is a prerequisite for email). Among those taking the Pew survey, 46% indicated that email made them more productive, compared to 7% who said the opposite.

Google Inbox may be visually and functionally appealing, but the company now has to demonstrate through user studies that Inbox enhances productivity.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2015 | 1:21:15 PM
Re: Broken
It probably also depends on what kind of work you do - some people depend on organizing items by date so it would be extra work to sort them any other way. But nonetheless, this new interface is slick and intuitive - I think it will go over well - I guess time will tell.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2015 | 12:33:14 AM
Re: Broken
"True for me as well, but I think it also depends what type of "thinker" you are - if you are more linear of a person, this new format would be highly irritating as you need to see things in chronological order."

I for one likes the "bundled" feature. It saves you time basically, otherwise you would have to scroll down to your desired email. It could have a customisable "Work" group as well.
vnewman2
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50%
vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2015 | 12:53:45 PM
Re: Broken
True for me as well, but I think it also depends what type of "thinker" you are - if you are more linear of a person, this new format would be highly irritating as you need to see things in chronological order. That's my style, but I could see where others may love the new bundling feature. I do like the idea of seeing certain messages without having to constantly open them, like flight info.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
2/24/2015 | 9:45:22 AM
Re: Broken
I hear you, I'm nervous that I would miss stuff in a new format, but I have that concern today. I's not yet 9 am and I've deleted 30 emails that came in today and have 19 in my inbox -- the status quo doesn't comfort me. I'm at the point with email though that I'm willing to try something new. 
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
2/24/2015 | 9:16:15 AM
Re: Broken
I agree with this.  I think most attempts to make these apps more 'readable' tend to make things go in the complete opposite direction.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 11:56:24 PM
Re: The Microsoft and IBM attempts to ease the email burden
Has anyone tried the MS or IBM tools? I second the concern that anything that is decluttering for me only makes me nervous. It's sort of like that big real email that ends up in the spam inbox and you don't find it until way too late.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
2/23/2015 | 7:20:15 PM
Re: Broken
I have mixed feelings about Inbox. It's pleasant to look at, but it makes me feel like I'm missing something. I have an issue with programatic assumptions about what I want to see or not see.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
2/23/2015 | 4:21:45 PM
The Microsoft and IBM attempts to ease the email burden
The other two efforts aimed at better email management are Microsoft Clutter and IBM Verse. These email-organization and decluttering tools were released last November, making Google's limited release described here sound a bit late to the market.
ChrisMurphy
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50%
ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
2/23/2015 | 4:05:47 PM
Broken
I'd be willing to try it. I'm increasingly feeling like email is broken -- that we're not seeing the messages we want to see, no sense of prioritizing one thing over another. Am I the only one? 
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