A friend of mine told me about Google’s new app, Inbox, and since I’m a designer, he would like to hear my opinion. This is my answer to him.

First thing I have to say, is that Google made a good decision by creating a separate product, instead of forcing a new set of features to the Gmail users.

After a few days using the app on my iPhone, here’s my initial thoughts:

  • It’s a mix of email inbox, a to-do list and a calendar, and I prefer to keep all those things separated. Because they are actually different things, I prefer to deal with them separately.
  • It’s an effort to try to put some order on the daily email clutter, assuming people don’t want to see all the emails (even if they are commercial messages, brand spam, etc). From time to time I like to give a look on the latest Groupon offers.
  • Creates bundles of emails by similar content, but so far I haven’t understood what is the criteria to do this. I would stick only to “subject”.
  • The iPhone app interface displays less messages on one screen, compared to the Gmail app for the same device. I prefer to see more messages on one glance.

Do I need another layer of “interpretation” of data between me and my mail box?

The best email interface innovation in the past years was introduced with the simple and genius grouping concept of email messages introduced on Gmail:

  • “important and unread”,
  • “starred”,
  • and “everything else”

This 3 groupings displayed in the same page, are more than enough for me and that’s about as far as I would go in terms of layers of interpretation of data between the user and the emails.

It’s always a challenge to “play” with people’s perceptions built over so many years, like the email. And the email concept comes from the actual physical mail that’s still around us, and will be for many years.

On the other hand I can understand that Google as a global giant in the internet services and with great teams of designers put together, has the pressure, the budget, the people and the media coverage to put new services outside. So, in that sense, bravo Google, for trying to re-imagine the future of internet services.

For now I’ll continue with Gmail, but paying attention to further developments.