November 5, 2015

500 words 3 mins read

Turning in Google Inbox for Gmail

Google Inbox is a really interesting experiment. The point of the service is to take “old fashion” email and turn the interface on its head. These are great aspirations and I hope they succeed. Basically the second Google Inbox was available for us Google Apps users, I had switched over to it. Both on computer and mobile I’ve been using only Google Inbox for the last 6 months it’s been available. However, even with all the cool new features, I find myself slowly migrating back to Gmail.

Let me be clear, I don’t think Inbox is “bad”. However I do think there are a number of ways that it is not as good as Gmail. Either because the UI feels clunkier, tasks are harder, or features just aren’t there. Of course, Inbox has many cool features Gmail doesn’t, but for me the scales have tipped away from Inbox. I consider myself a heavy and technical email user so my use cases can differ greatly from “most people”. So here’s a few of my bullet points:

  • Inbox on desktop has always been RAM intensive and tends to lockup the browser tab
  • While Inbox loads faster, the data is stale. If I’m using a computer that’s been off for a few days, it really freaks out once it updates. Gmail is slightly slower to load, but is always “up to date”.
  • Gmail has more UI options, like “Compact” mode. I can see significantly more information (like date/time of arrival) in Gmail.
  • Using a filter to Label & Archive combined with “Show label only when unread” allows me to easily filter off large amounts of email I’m generally not concerned with (like mailing lists) while keeping the UI and still being able to see when there is unread email.
  • Inbox bundles don’t show you if you have unread email. Until I went back to Gmail I had no idea how much email I had missed.
  • Most plugins are only available for Gmail (Ex: Sidekick and Crystal)
  • “Contacts” is not integrated into Inbox
  • Inbox does not allow you to change/modify/copy/anything about an email address in compose mode. So if you make a typo, you have to delete it and start over.
  • Since Inbox doesn’t allow you to copy email addresses from compose, you can’t get someones email handily for another application (say if someone IM’s you asking for XYZ’s email address). You can only exit Inbox to contacts.
  • Bulk actions. Gmail’s “Check …” all/unread/read/stared/etc is extremely helpful
  • While Gmail’s Stared emails are easy to replace in Inbox, they provide a very visual “hey, pay attention to me” that I liked
  • I didn’t realize how much I missed “Important” box until I switched back and realized how many fewer emails I was looking at during the day.
So Inbox is great, but Gmail has been amazingly popular for a reason. I’m sad I have to give up some cool new things like AI responses, but a better Gmail is the better email client for me.