Android

The future of Gmail and Inbox and what it means to Android

Google is clearly hoping to reinvent how you use email, but to what end? Will Inbox become the default client for Android? The answer is in your hands.

Google Inbox

Recently, the Google Inbox team did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session to answer anything about the state of Gmail and Inbox. During that session, one thing became very clear — Google wants the users to decide the fate of Gmail and Inbox. Pretty impressive, considering the competition tends to work in precisely the opposite manner.

Of course, it is their "hopes" that everyone will want to use Inbox over Gmail. That's perfectly understandable. If you've taken a gander at any of the Lollipop images and compared them with Gmail and Inbox, it's pretty clear who comes out on top. Inbox is more in-line with the look and feel of Android's new trajectory. Plus, it's mobile-friendly and allows you to quickly navigate the waters of your inbox (and mass delete/manage related content).

The Inbox team is working hard to add/improve items like:

  • Google Apps integration
  • Undo send
  • Multiple email account support
  • Google Now integration

When I first used Inbox, I was a bit skeptical. It was vastly different than Gmail, especially on the mobile platform (where I was used to unthreaded, flat email display). Honestly, it's a larger leap ahead than the average user is accustomed to. But after using it for about a week, it dawned on me why Google even bothered to create Inbox.

It's that much more mobile friendly. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Inbox is the most mobile-friendly email client on the market.

However, even with a superior interface and workflow, Inbox could just as easily go away. Why? Many users hate change. Because of that, people are hesitant to even give Inbox a try. On the other hand, I've had a fairly steady stream of people reaching out to me for Inbox invites. The people asking are always curious as to what the next big thing will be. Those people not asking fall into the "if it ain't broke" mantra. This very issue might well be playing games with the inner workings of Google. Think about it... you have two major, redundant projects going on simultaneously — Inbox and Gmail. Both projects want to be the chosen golden child. In the end, only one will be left standing.

The winner, I believe, will be in the hands of the masses. This means every Android user owes it to themselves to get an Inbox invite and use the app for at least a week. After that period, it should become more than clear which email client is best suited for mobile life. My take is pretty straightforward. Gmail is a serviceable mobile email client. With plenty of tweaking, Gmail is a very good email client. Inbox, on the other hand, is a very good email client without the tweaking. Now, add in the end-user variable (one that states the average user doesn't want to bother with tweaking and configuring), and you have an obvious solution to a simple equation:

Google + Inbox = Win for mobile users

Everything has changed, while everything tries desperately to remain the same. Email has been one of those pieces of the puzzle afraid to move forward — with good reason. It's one of the single most important tools we have for business and personal communication. The thing is, our needs have finally exceeded what the standard model offers. We require more information available at a glance. That is what Inbox does and what it will continue to improve upon.

This will only happen, in my opinion, if the masses actually use the app. Google is a very intelligent organization. If they see people aren't adopting Inbox, they'll pull the product. If, however, they see the masses are migrating, they'll pull the trigger on making Inbox the default Android email client. That, I believe, is the smart move. Inbox is so much more mobile friendly that it makes Gmail look like a Model T Ford racing a 2015 Dodge Charger with 700 horsepower.

Give Inbox a try. If you like it, use it — both the browser and the mobile versions. Show Google that they're on the right path with their evolution of the email client. If you haven't received an invite for Inbox, send the Inbox Team an email to request one. Fret not, you'll get it.

What's your take? Have you tried Inbox? If so, did you make the switch — or did you go back to Gmail and never look back?

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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