In just the past 6 months we've seen native Gmail add-ons (that work across web and mobile) and now confidential mode, Calendar/Keep/Tasks sidebars, and Material look and feel.
It's more work for us working on the InboxSDK, but I'm gladly willing to make the tradeoff of some extra work for a more robust and vibrant underlying platform.
As far as I know Inbox bundles are a unique feature and one I could not do without.
Folders and filtering rules never worked for me because they gave me multiple "to do" lists. It's vital for managing complexity to have a single queue to work through. If you want to use your inbox for that - then traditional email clients fall short.
If something is filtered out of my inbox then I usually end up forgetting about it. If I can't group things in my inbox then it becomes overwhelming.
- The mobile app arbitrarily doesn't allow labelling something and keeping it in the inbox.
- It puts emails in the inbox under a folder when labelled by a filter, which usually ends obscuring important messages.
- It doesn't have something equivalent to inbox sections (I use the crap out of these as my inbox has multiple different streams of things to action in it from multiple email aliases - personal, business, opensource, travel, bills, etc).
- As others have mentioned, Inbox is not very information dense.
Google sure had a challenge updating Gmail, since there's so many people using it in different ways. It'd be really interesting to see their top usage patterns summarised.
I tried to create a basic app a few months ago and it is extremely limited and feels very much beta.
An example: extending compose functionality in any way is impossible.
Add ons are limited to when the user opens an email, that's pretty much it. Try for yourself and see.
If you want to do something fancy then I highly recommend using the InboxSDK (inboxsdk.com).
But for basic functionality the add-ons are pretty sweet. Native mobile integration is huge, alongside massive a great distribution channel. Not sure if you've noticed in the new Gmail but they put a + button below the list of Calendar/Keep/Tasks icons that brings up the Add-On installation modal. That's pretty major.
I will eventually monetize the app I build but won't go down the path of using Google's own addon platform. It will likely be InboxSDK as you point out.
The sad thing here is with InboxSDK being limited to Desktop but brilliantly feature rich, my adoption will be curved by desktop use only. I imagine businesses will be much more inclined to use Google's addon market place because the ease of deployment to users, rather than a Chrome extension etc.
How have your Enterprise users deployed your app to users?
I haven't noticed the + yet, I'll look out for this next time. Thanks for your suggestions.
That seems like a non solution. I frequently compose multiple documents full screen, while multitasking between different items of work. Judging by the upvotes before your edgy comment I'm not the only one.
Other apps maintain state being used in multiple windows, gmail should do the same.
This reminds me of the joke where, upon realizing that normal pens don’t work in space, the US spent millions of dollars developing a “space pen” that will work in zero-gravity, while Russia just decided to use pencils.
Sometimes I write and review a long email in one tab over the course of an hour or so while still responding to shorter emails in another tab. Just yesterday I had to out together a small report with some log examples and network graphs.
So there's 2 tabs open. Sometimes I'll also have older emails open to refer back to them. Easily brings that to 3, 4, 5 tabs.
It also doesn't properly update the mobile app or notifications, and I have one coworker who shows up as a different name whether I'm using the desktop or mobile app.
Of course, that's not what anyone means when they repeat this nonsense, and the entire point of the story is to create a narrative that the US government is bloated, wasteful, and stupid.
First and foremost, the "Feedback" modal dialog is completely broken in Firefox. The menu loads but then immediately disappears. It blinks back into view intermittently every several seconds, but I can't see it long enough to populate the form they provide.
They established a new dock for non-email applications on the right-hand side, but decided to leave the Hangouts interface shoehorned into the lower-left corner. It's too cramped to use and forces them to waste a huge amount of horizontal space to the right of the menu options above it ("Inbox", "Sent", etc.).
I count 5 vertical scrollbars visible on my small screen. The scrollbar in the primary inbox pane is there whether there's overflow or not. I tried selecting the "Compact" display density option and limited the list to 20 emails per page to guarantee that scrolling wouldn't be necessary, but I still have to look at the scrollbar. I also dislike that the inbox tabs ("Primary", "Social", etc.) aren't pinned to the top -- if I accidentally scroll on the inbox pane, they vanish.
(Incidentally, I tried setting up a screen reader as an ambient helper to wean her onto the idea, but Gmail's HTML client, which is the only thing that doesn't fall to pieces here, works terribly for screen readers).
This really should be basic stuff for a frontend web developer: the main scrollbar (the one attached to your root html element) should control the scroll position of your main content. No excuses, you lazy gits, we have `position: sticky` now. Inbox has this figured out, and that's probably one of the reasons I like it.
It's so boring to ask two questions and get a reply to one or ask someone to choose one of two options and they reply with "Yes, go ahead".
That would explain the lack of updates on the Inbox iOS App (which still doesn't have proper iPhone X support)?
The feature I use most in Inbox is the quick "mark done" which removes the mail from sight but allows searching for it later.
The automatic bundling is not bad but not terribly useful.
Being able to open a custom bundle of Git commits from yesterday, scan them, then archive them all in a single click is huge! Being able to click on a bundle created for my upcoming trip and see all my emails for that trip there (hotel, flights, etc...) is such a time saver. Then being able to snooze those bundles to another date/time is also huge.
I actually want them to expand it more, allow me to bundle multiple emails that I choose together! If I get 3 separate emails about something I need to do next week, I want to be able to make an ad-hoc bundle for those 3, then snooze them all to another time together.
I can absolutely see how it's not for everyone, and I don't want anyone to think i'm implying that it's wrong to not want it, but i'm just amazed that there is such a varied response to them!
> The feature I use most in Inbox is the quick "mark done" which removes the mail from sight but allows searching for it later.
That sounds like the (ancient) Archive button..
And the inbox.google.com web interface does the exact same thing! It also gets stuck for several seconds when pressing "done" on a lone email in a group, showing an empty group for a while until it realizes "oh, there are no emails in this group" and finally disappears.
The app should be SIMPLE and FAST and it is currently neither. I am really thinking about returning to Gmail fully and using some other client for iOS.
Edit: also, do either of them enable the "tasks" between emails?
What's worse, it's clear the CMS knows that the image is going to be displayed as a small thumbnail: the markup uses the picture tag and srcset attribute to provide alternative images, indicating that they'll be around 120 or 240 pixels wide, depending on device DPI.
...and yet, the actual file it serves is the same, full-resolution PNG in all cases.
This is a problem that the CMS should be solving.
As is using GIFs instead of actual videos. It’s 2018, damnit.
Mostly just transparent-until-hover, but still.
Sadly that also reflects the state of the new Gmail. It's bigger and slower to load than ever before. At least based on testing I've done on a test-account given to me by Google.
(Which may or may not contain debug-builds, extra logging, instrumentation, etc. I'll not entirely exclude the possibility that the final release builds may leaner.)
Anyhow, needless to say, I'm happy with Fastmail :D
This sentence is nearly always true, applied to websites. (The exception would be mathjax, and a few more things)
> The all-new Gmail experience is available for businesses to start using today in the G Suite Early Adopter Program (EAP) and can be turned on in the Admin console. [...]
> Personal Gmail users can opt-in to the new experience, too (Go to Settings in the top right and select “Try the new Gmail.”).
In Google Admin
Apps > G Suite > Settings for Gmail > Advanced settings
...and then scroll down to :
New Gmail Early Adopter Program
Gmail used to be good alright, but then it started to ask for my phone number all the time. I've switched to Tutanota recently, much better IMO, particularly the new client: https://mail.tutanota.com/
So I register firstname.lastname@example.org but forget to register email@example.com and anybody can squat it and impersonate me from the same service?
Not to mention they blocked my IP after registering 3 of the 5 available domains.
When I wake up on the second morning after I've registered an email account, it was impossible for me to remember whether the domain was tunanota, notatuna, nonanuta or tutanote...
I'm so tempted now.. YMMD :)
Why can't these services use something like OpenPGP's Web Key Discovery  fetching key from https://domain.com/.well-known/openpgp/hu/hash-for-localpart and avoid links altogether?
As far as I know self-destruct emails in Gmail are not end-to-end encrypted.
Is there an issue tracker or a mailing list where one can subscribe and see when this would be available?
Devs say they want to publish the app on F-Droid.
How is that for protonmail?
How about the UX? Can anyone comment on how they like the over all experience of Protonmail as compared to Fastmail? I realize I could sign up a Protonmail account and compare, but I’m not sure I’d get a good picture of the service through casual use.
I like Fastmail quite a lot so far, but I’m open to reevaluating in a year’s time.
How would encrypted emails work in a client like Thunderbird? Would it normally be handled correctly if POP/IMAP was available?
But... those aren’t particularly friendly and thus aren’t widely used. The main usability issue is a fundamental one, namely that management of crypto keys is hard.
Hearing that Protonmail requires their own client suggests to me that they’ve given up on the standards due to usability issues, and have instead adopted a managed key model like Apple’s iMessage.
iMessage is end-to-end encrypted, but Apple manages keys on your behalf. It’s not a bad compromise between privacy and usability depending on your threat model.
But, at this point I’m deeply suspicious of anything that isn’t standards based or that locks me into a particular vendor’s software. I’m therefore skeptical that we’ll satisfactorily solve email privacy for a majority of people in my lifetime.
EDIT: Thunderbird would work with Fastmail for encryption using PGP or SMIME (at least I think Thunderbird supports SMIME). Protonmail wouldn’t work, I’d guess.
Thunderbird supports SMIME natively, just like most of email clients. But of course there are some usability issues, like you need to enable encryption each time per email, or require it for all emails, there is no middle ground like "encrypt if I have keys, do not encrypt otherwise".
I also like the [anything]@alias.domainname.com feature. Lets you separate out user accounts into unique email addresses, and you skip the username+[unique]@gmail.com filter that a lot of places have now.
And the fact you can host a simple static website on your domain is useful.
I also use it as my travel calendar. Gives me a better view of my coming travel than a calendar.
No, thanks. I like my e-mail archive under my own control.
At the same time, sending internal payroll information and such is something that can, and does, get accidentally forwarded.
This feature is less about "perfect security" and more about making sure the dumb-dumbs who work in other departments don't shoot themselves in the foot.
Awesome feature. Fire people who are blatantly mishandling confidential material.
For users outside of Googles platform the obvious solution is either not to send them or to send a managed link to the message contents via normal email.
It can't be perfect thanks to the analogue hole, but it only has to be a bit better than nothing to provide utility.
>Password is piedpiper123
"Oh, better I copy the password to my computer if I ever need it."
*Or image, not really sure if that works.
The email contains a link to a site controlled by Google which holds the actual "email's" content.
Forwarding the email will only forward a link to an access-controlled resource.
I wonder if they had any discussions about this internally, and if anyone on the engineering team objected to such changes. I find it hard to believe such a change was done by pure accident without anyone noticing.
They're pushing GSuite for governments, corporations, schools... Things like 'read receipts', email recalls, and such are common questions and common scenarios that are supported by their competition. I bet this is in a well curated list of requests from schools, healthcare organisations, and MegaCorps alike...
For people outside the Google sphere there are numerous alternatives to make this appealing. A single-use link, for example, or just slapping OAuth on there. The baseline is open email, so any kind of trace-ability is a huge improvement.
Standards need to be enforced.
What standard is that exactly?
This new "remotely deletable" thing must be essentially a link to a Google controlled page in the form of an email.
Quote: "With respect to the upcoming Gmail announcement, there are no changes to Inbox by Gmail," a Google spokesperson tells me. "It remains a great product for users with specific workflows and one in which we test innovative features for email."
My opinion: Does not sound confident for me... it will be a always beta product?!
Asked if Gmail update meant changes to Inbox, Google said no. Sounds simple to me.
As for being a "beta" product, to the extent that's true it's nothing new: from the start Inbox has always been a testing ground for new ideas, where the Gmail team could experiment without dealing with the entire Gmail userbase.
In a slight shift from how Inbox was characterized at launch, Bank says it now amounts to an experimental test bed for future Gmail features. “Inbox is the next-gen, early adopter version, whereas Gmail is the flagship that will eventually get the best new features,” according to Bank.
Okay, not really. But if I had to choose a culture (since we're on the subject of false dichotomies), between a cutthroat stack-ranked empire and an idealistic hacker republic ...
EDIT, for more clarity: Gmail spans lots of clusters ("Gmail's web interface runs in many locations”, https://gmail.googleblog.com/2009/09/more-on-todays-gmail-is...) and Google is an US-centric ("5%") company, so it's likely that the rollout has been timed to be complete or mostly complete during the day... US daytime, that is. It's barely 5AM on the East Coast.
Maybe someone could post the link that is behind "Try the new Gmail" - I assume it's just some URL parameter you need to add?
instead of the other way around :p
Clearly it's a staggered rollout thing that hasn't fully taken effect. (Which is stupid, when you do this kind of thing at scale you pick an exact time to go "live", add some code that enables the flag at some point after that exact moment in time, then do a rollout early enough that all the machines in the cluster are updated with that code by the time rolls around. And then everything "just updates all at once." Why do I suspect that Google from 2006-2009 would have made the effort to do that for this update, but that nowadays it would have been deemed as too difficult or whatever...)
I wonder what happened. Maybe enabling this _now_ was a last-minute decision? Weird.
I should have been more clear, woops. I was referring to the "Try the beta" feature showing up in the gear/cog menu.
I can't enroll with any of my personal or work accounts.
Yea, I think having good defaults and falling back to the date-picker interface (graphical calendar) is a good solution for mobile, but when I'm on a laptop with a keyboard it's way faster to just type.
Err... wat. Explain again how "high-priority notifications" will help me stay focused "without interruption". This is a new level of newspeak. The ringtone is now LOUDER, which will help you enjoy silence.
Anyway, I don't care about any of this. All I want to know is if I'll still be able to disable conversation view in the new interface.
And the following screenshot: https://storage.googleapis.com/gweb-uniblog-publish-prod/ima...
Shows: "Try notifications for only your most important emails: Turn on / No thanks".
So in context, the message is not that "high-priority notifications" mean louder ringtones but that (if you accept) Gmail will try to notify you only when an incoming email is important. That hopefully means fewer interruptions from newsletters and other bacn.
Just turn them off if you dont want notifs at all.
I use tasks because it lives on top of Google Calendar, which I use and look at every day. Every other task-tracking option has failed because if it’s not in front of me then it’s not helpful.
The biggest problem, until now, has been the lack of a mobile app for tasks. I, got one, am excited about this.
It looks like they’re converging but there are things like grouping of Trips, grouping by day, and pinning (which also takes emails and attachments offline) which I really like in Inbox...
Email is not the right medium for this. Stick to blogs and webpages for this instead.
Now that messages will expire and be removed from this archive I suppose it's time to look at alternatives.
I tried it a few times - each time worked great at the start and then fell apart once the mail volume grew.
Gmail's web interface, crappy though it may be, seems to be the interface that works best out of the lot.
I find more meaninfgul postings on the *.googleblog.com sites (e.g. https://research.googleblog.com or https://india.googleblog.com/) versus the blog.google sites.
This HN domain leaderboard also ranks the research blog domain higher (74 vs 89) over the past year: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16692149
Progressive and slow changes, so that the users don't notice them and get overwhelmed is the way to go. I bet Google has the manpower and funds to A/B test the usefulness and user acceptance of any such changes.
Edit: you should learn more about visual motion accessibility before downvoting me.
It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just pick "Segoe UI" or "Verdana" like everyone else.
I kind of alternate between Gmail and Google Inbox because they present different views. It's all pretty confusing.
That sounds great. My only other feature request is an unsubscribe button in the list view actions.
That being said the “do more without leaving the inbox” seems like workarounds to the fact that Gmail lacks a 3 pane interface.
A 3 pane interface makes much of the deeper features Gmail is adding on message hover redundant. One could argue that in a 3 pane interface you need to click the message you are interested in to get access to advanced actions but in Gmail you don’t. And while this is true, I’d say the need to hover over the message actually makes it harder. The hover needs to be maintained while in the 3 pane interface once you click you don’t need to maintain your mouse position. And you have far more context, since the entire email is displayed while still showing you all your other messages and not yanking you out of the inbox.
1) it does not combined inboxes (at least I see no option to view the other emails)
2) it only allows you to send emails from the different accounts.
Emphasis on the "From" - the sender will still be the original email address, so that is completely useless for combination of like a public and private email.
As it is, my email address has now survived three different providers. I’m a happy Fastmail user now, but there’s no way I’d accept an @fastmail.com email address.
For me, $5 a month for ad free email that supports push notifications on iOS is pretty nice. The file / web hosting on Fastmail is fun too. Feels like an old school ISP.
Do you still have an account w/ Google, despite using Fastmail as your email provider? I was thinking of just deleting my entire Google account but I have my personal email address associated w/ so many things.
I also love the old school feel of Fastmail but I don't know, a few user interface tweaks wouldn't hurt.
...it's neat. I'm just making a crack about them copying the disappearing messages functionality from other providers like protonmail.
These updates are particularly maddening, as they usually involve slick and chirpy new design accompanied by the maddening confusion of trying to figure out if the features you liked are dead or just obfuscated, and the feeling of disempowerment as your previously reliable software starts coercing you into all sorts of stuff you never asked for. It's a rather Orwellian feeling.
I'm not looking forward to trying to figure out what agenda this Gmail overhaul is going to try to push on me.
The average person has totally different needs and usage patterns than power users. If you want to avoid this phenomena, where the services you use slowly degrade and lose features, favor products that specifically target power users. Products for the general population, like Android, Youtube, and Windows, will over time degrade more and more towards some lowest common denominators.
There's a problem with this theory though, that the utility of some of these programs is in how many users (and thus content, etc) they have
So we can't really "favor products that specifically target power users" as YouTube or Google Maps alternatives -- or, rather, we could, but they'd be weaker in the polish, content, user base department (e.g. Vimeo or some advanced Maps platform)
There is no average person. Different person have different use cases and preferences. No person wants known liked things to be removed or made less good.
Apple devices are meant for Apple power users. I use Windows and Linux (KDE) and I am uncomfortable and constraint on Mac OS.
There is a reason why people spend (or spent) hours to discover and learn even their phone or TV software.
Have you missed dozes of HN posts and threads about git being overcomplicated and overengineered? A lot of software engineers would love for git to remove a lot of features they don't use because they find it too complex. (For the record, I personally don't agree with them at all, but it is a very popular opinion).
Hell, many routinely rebase and squash commits for the sake of simplicity, throwing out a truthful development history.
Even so, most people are more alike than different.
It annoys the fuck out of me when someone says that a phone that still doesn't exist and isn't available for purchase is mentioned as an "alternative".
It will become an alternative once it's out. Until such time comes, stop mentioning it when discussing alternatives.
And what’s the point if the baseband is not open?
Gmail: any email service
Android: root it, use a custom launcher and utility apps.
GMaps: Waze (lets you provide your own speech samples, even)
You don't have to secede from these whole platforms - just extend around them and reach into them.
Your examples are all fucking google.
OP's question was about how power users can keep UX control while services degrade their features to cater to average users. That's what I care about, not ideological purity in my software stack.
People like you are the tech equivalents of the militant vegan.
Because that means more money and effort spend by the vendor to maintain 2 sets of interfaces (and extra flags and features they could just cut entirely),
and that for the benefit of a tiny sliver of its user base, and the worst and most picky at that.
I realize it's axiomatic that 'to serve the customer is self-evidently the best thing for the service provider, because capitalism', but by now I think that is obviously marketing spin to cover actions in self-interest… no matter who claims it. Starkly, obviously false.
Gmail users are clearly not customers, they are not paying anything for it. Your cynicism against capitalism is unwarranted in this case.
I think this is the "excuse" but to me it seems like it's as much about "locking down" as "dumbing down".
History moves in cycles  and I'm seeing something like how we transitioned from Home Computers to game consoles in the mid 90s.
Hackers are experts at getting value out of equipment that the manufacturers never expected, and this is what you want with a nascent technology, to help build a market. But as things mature, as a business you want to lock down more and more of this creative potential for yourself and lock in the revenue.
We've seen it with music like this: Vinyl (locked down) -> tapes (hackable) -> CDs (locked down) -> CD Writers -> MP3s (hackable) -> Streaming (locked down) -> ... (tapes? )
We've seen it with home computing like this: Pong & Atari -> Commodore, Spectrum, Apple II -> NES, Master System -> Amiga, Atari ST -> SNES, Genesis -> PC -> Playstation -> The Apple Renaissance -> The Ripened Apple
Even on a smaller scale I can see Apple's pivot from "Rip, Mix, Burn"  to doing away with personal music altogether over the course of 10 years 
Or my PS4 where I'm more and more likely to just download a game now than go out to the shops and buy a disc.
At each stage there is a trade-off. You get a slightly more polished product, but you lose a certain degree of agency over it. I guess it's cyclical because the "locking down" goes a little too far and then people loses interest and then you need to bring in the hackers again to jump start the community once more. I'm sure there's some tie in with the innovators dilemma 
I think the only popular industry I can think of that has resisted broad-scale hacking is the movie industry. I can only speculate that the scale, and political importance meant they had to always stay ahead of the curve.
I think that's a symptom that the person you're getting your updates from doesn't share your interests.
I like updates to libre software, because the makers share my interest in having the best tool. Updates to Android, not so much.
Or maybe you just want a stabler release channel — Debian stable instead of Rawhide — which, of course, web apps don't have.
For mail, Apple's Mail.app can't be beat: nothing else works as fast with my E-mail archive dating back to 1994. For programming, I still haven't found anything that beats Emacs.
Using apps instead of letting Google read my mail solves at least part of the problem. The other part remains, however — I dread new Apple hardware updates, as recently their "pro" laptops took a huge dive for the worse. I'm stuck on a 2015 model, waiting for them to regain their sanity and produce actual "pro" laptops with decent keyboards and ports that I can actually use.
Uhm, I think there are some great 3rd party apps out there that are much more powerful. But I concur that an actual email client is the way to go, especially as soon as you have more than one address.
My #2 is Spark, which I actually use on iOS, but on Mac it's a bit too slow, plus it actually failed to send an E-mail without notifying me or returning the E-mail (I did report this as a bug), which I consider a showstopper. So Mail.app it is.
Calling it "the less updated software in the world" shows why companies do even more frequent updates, even when they aren't needed. To avoid appearing stale.
They have understood something other tech companies are yet to learn: Noone uses your product because you're so modern or progressive or slick. Your product is a tool, not design porn to wank off to. Apple fanboys are overwhelmingly fanboys because Apple produces reliable tools they use to create stuff themselves, not because they dream of glossy icons at night.
We can see what happens when a company decides to degrade a "useable, reliable tool for creation" with stupid design/UX decisions in the Thinkpads, which had a fanboy group that is currently diminishing because anything post-T520 is just a sad excuse to the "reliable tool"
We usually bite the bullet just because the pros outweigh the cons -- they do indeed ship a lot of great stuff -- but a lot of problems come with that, too. We still jump when we can (so long as the cons != 75% worse performance on all UIs)! ;)
Moreover, Google developers, just like all developers, work on things they don't believe in, or sometimes find useless. It's just work like any other. Criticizing developers for changes in how Gmail works is not really fair.
If this is actually the way that google wants to introduce new features ie. with a thorough, long term, and importantly separate process of testing and vetting. I think that is a pretty good way to go about it.
New products are exciting.
Updates are what product managers do when they don't have any idea for a new product and want to justify their existence. It's like "reforms" in politics.
Successful products should be left alone.
Of course they never will, and we suffer. I understand that complaining about it is like complaining about the weather... yet I can't help myself.
I guess by "new product" I mean something addressing a new problem in a new way. A new function, not a new skin, which all these updates seem to be.
If you define success by the numbers of users, i guess tweaking the UI makes sense to try to get even more users.
It comes with age.