Friday, April 3, 2015

App Review: Inbox by Gmail-Sahen Rai

I love material design. Ever since last year's IO I've been looking to replace all my apps unless they have it. It looks fantastic, it's smooth, and it unifies Android in a way I don't think has been done before. That's probably why I love Inbox so much, yes Gmail got a material update shortly after Inbox was released. But there's so much more to Inbox than just design.

The first thing I noticed about Inbox was the floating action button at the bottom that is a staple of many "material" apps. Tapping it spins it out and allows you to do a few actions, including write email, send invite, add a reminder, or show you a list of your contacts. This is one of the main additions to Inbox, the use of reminders. 

I use Google Now/Inbox reminders for pretty much everything I absolutely have to remember. While many other task systems might work just as well. The advantage here is that Google is always adding new ways to make these things more helpful. Like just recently they announced that a reminder to pick up someone at the airport would give you updates on their flight times. Pretty sweet stuff Google. 

One of the other things Inbox does really well is help you organize your inbox. It does this by organizing similar emails into groups called "bundles". 

One tap opens a bundle and shows you all related email in it, and sliding the bundle away archives all emails in that bundle. 

This is much easier than going through 100s of emails individually and deciding which to keep and get rid of. But organization of emails goes another step further. You can pin emails you deem really important by just tapping the "pin" icon at the top. '

Then you can access all of your "pinned" emails via the pin slider in your inbox.

Now like most great things, Inbox isn't completely perfect. One of the only things holding me back from completely leaving Gmail is the fact that Inbox doesn't allow for non gmail accounts. Which unfortunately includes my school's custom email domain. This might not be a major drawback for everyone, but for me it's definitely a little annoying. Hopefully once Inbox hits public release we'll see this added in. But for now, all we get is this oddly colored computer user?

Inbox isn't for everyone. As much as I love the design, convenient connections to Google Now, and organization abilities. Those who want a no frills email experience may want to look elsewhere(or just use Gmail), as Inbox could be complicated to some users. Don't get me wrong, Inbox is still my favorite Email client. But it's easy for me to imagine someone like the above Ms Blueberry having any real need for the additional features.

- Beautiful implementation of Material Design
- Keeps email organized through "pins" and "bundles"
- Combines email and reminders well

- Doesn't allow for non @gmail domains.(yet)
- Might be not really be useful for people who don't want to learn how to use it (IE: those who just want to check their email)

If anyone's interested in trying out Inbox for themselves, follow me on twitter @masala_tech(I'm giving them away!). And 
as always,make sure to keep things spicy!

By Sahen Rai