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Google is discontinuing Inbox (fastcompany.com)
916 points by edwinvlieg 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 439 comments





Inbox changed my relationship with email and it is unbelievably frustrating to hear it is being shuttered. I was a better digital person because of the app: I never forgot to reply, I kept years of ideas and small notes in reminders, and I could quickly triage and clear all incoming mail.

These things in particular made Inbox stand out:

* UI - simple, uncluttered mobile and desktop experience with uncomplicated keyboard shortcuts. It even had the little things like a satisfying sun animation when your inbox was empty! Desktop Gmail has a surfeit of widgets and add-on icons that perplex, distract, and confuse.

* Bundles - especially for trips: all the relevant emails I needed, in one place—unbelievably useful while traveling. All tickets and information aggregated automatically (and if not, easily added manually).

* Reminders / Compose access - fast interface for creating small notes and mailing frequently contacted people. No reminders equivalent in Gmail (Tasks are available on Desktop but not mobile) and the mobile compose on Gmail is a blank email.

* Pinning - sticky a reminder or email for easy access and reference later. I guess gmail's equivalent is marking as important or moving to inbox?

In any event, if any of the Inbox team are reading this: big THANK YOU for creating a revolutionary product that was a joy to use. I already submitted feedback through the app wishing it would continue but if there is anything further I can do please share how!


Trips was the killer feature. I hope they port it. The ability to collect all my related information (a particular trip for example) into a single view was genius.

From a different perspective, Trips was surprisingly annoying for me! I had a team we're I'd need to approve other people's trips which would automatically show up as my own in calendar etc. This was especially annoying when our trips would overlap to the same destination. Unfortunately, it didn't have an easy way to mark what was my trip and what wasn't in any sort of repeatable fashion.

I hope they'll include a "not my trip" option if they port the feature, (which I hope, it's a godsend when travelling).

Or since they are already parsing the email's contents to create the trip, they could also pay attention to the traveler's name.

Alternatively, you can try Tripit[1] which has more features, but there is definitely more friction involved as you either need to grant access to your email account or manually forward emails.

[1] https://www.tripit.com


I don't know if its just me, but TripIt feels like a polished iPhone app that was begrudgingly ported to Android.

That being said, I'm on Android and do use it to manage all my trip data. Prior to that, I was using various versions of Worldmate.


WorldMate was nice. Another nice alternative — at least as far as apps go — is TripCase.

Everything that tripit does, Kayak does too. I just email all my bookings to trips@kayak.com and it does the rest. (They offer direct email integration, but giving access to my inbox feels icky, and I wouldn't want other people's trip info to end up in my itinerary anyway)

Well, there are alternatives like TripCase, Kayak and many others. TripIt just happens to be the one I’ve used for actual trips.

I use TripIt a lot (manually forwarding emails). I don’t trust them with my email credentials. :-)

I do love the service. Their website design feels aged and worn, but the functionality is great. I love trying out confirmation emails from new travel services to see if they can parse them. And they usually do a good job.


They will almost certainly use oauth to access your email account.

They get given a key to act on your behalf they would never get your actual login details.


Tripit is a fantastic service. One great thing about having my last 8 years of flight data logged there is that I can import it to do cool visualizations like: https://openflights.org/user/dankohn1

Click Analyze to see that I've flown 297 flights to 83 unique airports for a total of 539365 miles, which is 2.258x to the moon.


Love tripit- the best feature is the calendar feed, I don’t even use the app or website because all of my travel details are always in my calendar.

The Google Trips app accomplishes the same.

Perhaps Google Trips is what you're looking for: https://get.google.com/trips/

I've used Trips for years without Inbox. It's an app you can download on the app store/play store and it still automatically creates trips based on your Gmail inbox

Try Google Trips

Why use Google Trips? So that they can get you hooked and then close it down? Much like Inbox and many products before that..

It's as if those open source people had a point

Okay, what's the URL?

I think it’s iOS/Android only — which is a pity because a lot of people still prefer a laptop/desktop — although it works well enough for me.

https://get.google.com/trips/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-trips-plan-your-trip/...

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.and...


I don't mean to be too sarcastic here but what's the point? Google will just shut that down in a few weeks too.

Yet, sadly, accidental sarcasm occurs alarmingly often... :-)

In all honesty, feel free to use something like Tripit — see my response to the parent.


If I can't access my trips from my pc, it's as good as dead for me.

See my comment about Tripit — and there are other alternatives I haven’t tried.

But then I have another company knowing my personal information (dob, etc. etc.).

Don't you can just forward your booking/flight ticket emails to trip it? I don't think you have dob in those type of emails?

you can use google trips app or search for label:trips in gmail client which have same list. but combination of these is basically the feature in inbox

Why not just use a label for a trip and then delete it later (or keep)?

Why do that when Inbox did it automatically for me with no effort on my part?

It's not that I can't organize things myself, it's that it is nice when Inbox does it for me.


Same features in an app from Google too. Google trips https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.and...

I agree. I maintained a pretty clean inbox without 10s of rules. And as you said, never forgot to reply. I actually checked even my promo emails because I had them appear only once a day and I can delete them all in one click after reading them. Google keeps taking away the good products instead of figuring out how to get wider acceptance. Inbox definitely had a learning curve but it was worth it.

If anyone has a good alternative please share


Dealing with promo emails is one thing I'll miss the most, especially pinning the 1 or 2 you might want to keep and then sweeping the rest with 1 click. On desktop gmail you can reproduce this functionality by starring messages you want to keep and then bulk selecting using the "unstarred" option.

The ios gmail app does not have any good answer to this, though. You have to select each email one by one and then delete/archive.


> The ios gmail app does not have any good answer to this, though. You have to select each email one by one and then delete/archive.

This is what kills me about the iOS GMail app compared to Inbox. This feature needs to be ported to GMail before Inbox is gone.


In the hope there is a google employee reading this, i want to shout a big plus one here! The next time the chance to look at the latest Microsoft offering comes up, I’ll do it, using vanilla gmail is just so clunky compared to inbox and i don’t want to go back to it.

Yes. Thank you! Snoozing emails changed my life.

The one thing I miss from Inbox is being able to see my Done/Archived emails in the order archived. (So I can see recently archived emails, even if they're old emails.)

Swipe to snooze would also be nice.


For the first time ever, today I saw a message in Gmail that my email was snoozed.

Is it possible they are just incorporating these features into Gmail? That it was like a safe sandbox for working this stuff out before making at least some of it standard?


Yes. Gmail got Smart Reply, snoozing. Bundles are coming soon, and Smart Compose built on Smart Reply.

> Bundles are coming soon

I'm quite relieved to hear that; do you have a source? It doesn't seem that you work at Google.


The only source I can find is Verge quoting an anonymous PR person for background. https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/12/17848500/google-inbox-shu...

The Gmail client supports email snoozing including the ability to swipe to snooze. Under general settings swipe actions can be configured with Snooze being an option.

Hmm... The only Gmail setting I see is "Show Sender Images", but I use iPhone, so maybe it's a setting just on Android?

Agree! I used Mailbox initially. Since gmail got snoozing in the new design all I’m missing in gmail is snoozing reminders.

From a Gmail PM:

"Thank you to everyone who made Inbox a part of your life. We're taking everything we've learned and rolling it into Gmail."

https://twitter.com/prlambert/status/1039982667989577728


I concur, I don't know how I would have managed without it these last 4 years. Done instead of archive just makes so much more sense and it's the simple UI that really stands out as the best feature. Tried the new gmail just now and it's just not as good unfortunately, so much clutter. I'll be sticking with Inbox until the last day. What a shame.

The only Google product that I ever really liked from a usability perspective, and I get to heat they are killing it a month after I discovered it because I bought a new phone.

Just, my, luck.


Maybe Superhuman is opening to the public by then? It sounds promising.

https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/18/rapportive-founders-new-st...

https://superhuman.com/


Never used Inbox after an initial look, mainly due to trust issues. How did this work? What if bundles missed an email related to a trip, did you then have to (1) know it went missing, and (2) find it from some hidden place and expend extra time? With these products I get the feeling that it may be amortizing rare occurrences over the most mundane usage.

Emails relating to a trip would get categorized into it automatically. You still had to pay attention. If an email wasn't detected as part of a trip, you dragged it over to the trip and then it was associated correctly.

Maybe it felt mundane to you but I found it extremely handy when landing in a new place, trying to rent a car, and get to my hotel. Just referencing the same little spot in the app was super helpful.


I also found the flight status information helpful. On our last trip, I found out our flight was delayed via Inbox an hour or two before I heard about it from United and was able to make necessary schedule adjustment with the updates.

So many people say trips was the killer feature - but for me, that was just cool. Snoozing emails to inbox zero. That was my entire system.

Do it now, or when am I most likely to be able to do it?

Cognitive load is a real problem, why would anyone want to see an email that they can do nothing about, above one they can deal with now - and if you just put it in a folder... you have to check that yourself. That's ridiculous. It should remind you - say I'm waiting on package tomorrow before I reply - I shouldn't see the email, or think about it until after the package comes tomorrow. I certainly shoudn't need to remember to look through a custom list, in order to see it.

Google literally revolutionised email, and are now deprecating it - when half the problem was that they rolled it out in a separate and confusing way... Please bring snoozing to Gmail ASAP or I will be so sad.


Snoozing is already in Gmail :)

Snoozing of emails is a good start, although it seems that I cannot snooze "tasks" only set a date, and to snooze a note in Keep and then not see it (to reduce cognitive load to only things I can action now) - requires setting a reminder and then archiving the note...

I don't get why people want to be able to see everything all the time - or have to check in different places. Showing the notes as items in google inbox was fantastic, as was hiding them when they are snoozed.


Ahh I misunderstood. My work instance of gmail is still the old interface. It's so awful to look at after using inbox.

OK I found the upgrade button in the work app. I don't like the gmail interface as much - but it's better than I expected.

Reminders also worked with hyperlinks and on Android you can share links with Inbox, saving it for later. Nifty feature and a great way of quickly transferring a link between multiple devices.

Most of these things are available in the new Gmail interface.

No they aren't. No automatic bundling of trips and purchases, no reminders (what happens to Inbox reminders?), and the UI is not as uncluttered and simple.


But, like all of their tasks in the past, those Tasks are in an entirely separate database. So as I see it, there are currently three Google taskesque databases:

- Classic Calendar tasks

- Reminders (Calendar, Inbox, Assistant)

- Tasks (Sidebar in Gmail, Calendar, and Docs)

Correct me if I'm wrong? They merge and create new task databases all the time it seems, so it's hard to keep straight.


The sidebar tasks is the same as the classic tasks, just a new view. If you they will appear on the old tasks interface and on calendar if you add a date.

The third tasks interface is in keep ;)


> UI - simple, uncluttered mobile and desktop experience with uncomplicated keyboard shortcuts. It even had the little things like a satisfying sun animation when your inbox was empty! Desktop Gmail has a surfeit of widgets and add-on icons that perplex, distract, and confuse.

Just for this one in particular, you could try basic HTML mode for GMail: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/1pq68r75kzvdr/?v%3Dlui

But then of course you get even less features.


Lots of features are possible in the new gmail, but everything is nested in a menu! On the android app you swipe left or right to archive an email (instead of the inbox one way to snooze, one way to archive), and you actually have to open an email, and then click a sub-menu to snooze it!

Even adapting my workflow to the new tools, everything is nested - like you want a note in keep, or a task in tasks (and deciding between the two is not always obvious) - that requires you to go into a sub-menu / sidebar... the UX is so complex, it's really a struggle to be efficient so far.


Ah. Swipe customization. Well I guess that's a little better. It's so feature heavy though. All this stuff is pretty buried.

If you want some of that back, look into a combination of Boomerang for Gmail (needs a browser extension) and Multiple Inboxes (in advanced tab of gmail settings)

I use Boomerang for all kinds of reminders. For me it works better than Inbox did and it was the reason why I went back to Gmail after trying Inbox for about a month.

I use a multiple inbox pane "is:starred" for pinning emails.

I never really "got" bundles. It was more of an annoyance to me and I prefer manual labeling.

The UI: yeah, it's still Gmail...


Totally agree. I add that Inbox doesnt use the read/unread notion (only with bold). Indeed, most of mails can be process without open them.

For reminders I'll usually just send an email to myself, or actually set a reminder through the Android calendar app.

I used it for a few months, but was getting so slow I went back to gmail. Gmail is still slow...

funny how people see things differently

I thought it was complete crap.


I don't mean to throw out the same old "you can't get attached to Google products because they kill them at any time" thing, but holy shit, this one feels like a real kick in the balls. Email is one of my most important workflows and I've spent a great deal of time over the past few years attaching myself to the zero inbox mindset through the bundles feature and having my reminders as first class citizens in the inbox. Going back to Gmail without these features is a serious regression in my life.

I never even tried Inbox because I didn't trust that it wouldn't get killed. Ironically I was just thinking about finally giving it a try since it survived longer than I expected.

I logged in for the first time to see what it was.. same deal here, have stopped adopting new Google products since 2013 (the Reader debacle naturally)

Lol, that's such a strange approach.

Just adopt the new services, and if they disappear, use something else.

What do we exist to persist these days and how long for?


I'm sorry you maintain such a low opinion of yourself, but just like my lifespan, my attention is finite and I consider it priceless. If I'm forced to burn energy on something it better be for my long-term benefit, because let's face it, either of us could be dead tomorrow, and let's not waste our last breath cursing the fact we spent our final day alive on a new e-mail client, or in servitude to some other bullshit tool.

Google have broken that trust on countless occasions, and as a consequence for half a decade they have been deprived of the opportunity to waste any more of my time. You should consider doing the same


You've won this round...

Yep. I was reluctant to try it for this very reason. I just started using it recently, and started liking it. Now I realize that, of course, I shouldn't have bothered.

If only I could easily use something like notmuch/isync on my phone...


Yeah, I thought Inbox would actually be safe to use since it was tied to email, but nope.

Gmail doesn't have the automated bundling features that Inbox does, and like you, losing Inbox will be a pretty significant blow to my ability to manage email.

I've been slowly migrating away from Google's services for a long time now because they keep pulling stunts like this - it's like they're completely unable to keep their engineers focused on maintaining any kind of product consistency or long-term support.

Android Pie's awful UI/UX changes and discontinuing Inbox are very nearly the last straw for me. I can't avoid Gmail entirely as I'm too attached to the address, but worst case I can always just forward to a new one.


Same here. Their quality control (even on vanilla Android) has been terrible. Play Music is so broken at times and even Gmail has lots of bugs now. Search and Chrome are some of the only consistently reliable things they do now.

Pretty sure they are abandoning Play Music as well. YT Music -> Youtube Music is probably going to be the future.

It might be an old critic, but Google truly makes an effort to keep it current. They're simply an unreliable company.

> They're simply an unreliable company

I don't think it's intentional, but it's a side-effect of Google's bonus structure[1]. There's more money to be made (by employees) if their team successfully launches a new product. Maintaining existing products isn't as profitable, in fact, launching and deprecating popular products as frequently as possible is the optimal scenario for maximizing bonuses.

1. From the information I've encountered. I'm not a Googler.


Wow, when I hear about perverse incentives, I don't usually think about people spending their lives showing their clients a taste of a possible future until a high enough reward gets them to stop caring. Reward hacking for humans.

Promotion Driven Development

I wonder if I should collect a bunch of these...

Off the top of my head, I've observed:

- Resume Driven Development: wherein enterprise contractors and developers inject as many fad frameworks, architectures, and uncalled for features unnecessarily.

- Vendor Driven Development: wherein the application architecture is tie to a cloud solutions billing model as much as possible.

- Search Engine Driven Development: wherein the code is just a bunch of copy/pasted code that isn't really understood, and doesn't really work together coherently.

- Ignorance Driven Development: wherein a perfectly serviceable solution which is better in every way was not used, simply because the developer saw a problem and immediately went to code, without looking at how everyone else in the world solves the problem.

- Delusion Driven Development: wherein a completely useless application is beautifully crafted based on the obvious delusions of a manager or founder, which have successfully spread to the development team without any critical push-back or data to back the deluded assertions of the authority that has deemed the software necessary.


Autocomplete Driven Development: when you don't know the language that well yet, but IDE-support is superb.

Hope Driven Development - everything sucks right now, but it must get better. Right? RIGHT?

Don't forget my favorite, Panic Driven Development

Mortgage driven development - where the developer didn’t want to be there.

Chef Ego Officer driven Development

The term used by Googlers is embarrassingly similar, "Perf driven development".

Shhh, don't tell anyone, it will end up in an Agile Scrum book soon..

I mean that's kinda how most industries work, just replace the word "development" with whatever that industry does

Except the things that a salesman sells don't stop existing once they're promoted, because the company is invested in the products, which Google seems singularly unable to do.

Google is an R&D company really, not a consumer one.


I was just about to say basically the same thing. This move only reinforces the same thing that really the only consumer products that are safe are Gmail and Docs (G Suite, essentially). Anything else is basically a psychological experiment into how humans deal with loss of a beloved technology.

I guess it wasn't harvesting any unique information about its users. Thus... shutdown.

I'm not too familiar with it; how is this different from setting a "skip the inbox" filter?

Bundles don't skip the inbox; that's the point. Stuff in your inbox is stuff you haven't had a chance to deal with yet; prematurely moving emails out of your inbox that you haven't had a chance to look at would break that workflow.

I mostly use filters for stuff like newsletters where I might look at it and I might not, depending on my mood, but it isn't urgent.

not a inbox user, but cannot something similar be done with gmail tabs ?

The beauty of inbox was that you didn’t have to set anything up. Promotional emails, newsletters, bills etc just went to the appropriate bundle. 99% of the time it Just Worked.

Maybe. Can you add custom search queries as tabs? Something like "in:label AND in:inbox" would probably be a reasonable substitute (though perhaps a bit more clunky).

that's the thing, after i switched to inbox from gmail i never had to touch that feature. sometimes i'd bump against my old labels/containers in gmail and wonder how i used to live like that. honestly this is depressing

Yeah I believe that is possible, most of the stuff you can do in inbox, you can do in Gmail with more control.

This is really unfortunate. Inbox's primary differentiator was never in any one individual feature like Snooze or Smart Reply. No, the real value of Inbox was that its design was built around a fundamentally different philosophy on what email is and how it should be managed.

Gmail takes a traditional approach to email management. Messages come in, you read them, maybe organize them with labels, then archive them, delete them, or just leave them in your inbox forever. It doesn't really make any assumptions about your workflow, it just gives you a bunch of fairly standard email client features and leaves it up to you how you use them.

Inbox on the other hand is very opinionated. It was designed around the idea that your inbox is a to-do list, and everything from the UI to features like pinning, snooze, and reminders is built around that assumption. Emails come in and get sorted into categories, then you go through that list triage them, marking emails that require no action as done, pinning the ones you want to deal with soon, and snoozing the ones you want to come back to later. You can even attach reminders to emails so you don't forget what task they represent. When you're done you hit the sweep button and everything that isn't pinned or snoozed gets wiped clean.

As a result of this workflow, emails you've already dealt with are hidden away in the "done" folder, leaving only emails in your inbox which represent reminders or tasks you have yet to complete. You can even add custom reminders to Inbox which aren't tied to any specific email. Basically it turns your inbox into a to-do list.

I'm saddened to see Inbox go. Gmail doesn't really capture this workflow with quite the same level of elegance Inbox does; it just wasn't designed to work that way. I suspect that long after Inbox is gone I'll still find myself using the workflow it taught me; treating my inbox like a to-do list even when the client I use is no longer built around that workflow.


> Inbox on the other hand is very opinionated. It was designed around the idea that your inbox is a to-do list, and everything from the UI to features like pinning, snooze, and reminders is built around that assumption.

Yeah this is a massive gut punch for that reason. Inbox is how I organize my life right now. I reply to myself, snooze emails for a specific day, track bills, all through Inbox. Say what you will about becoming too dependent on technology, but Inbox was really the first tool I had where I felt I had TODOs figured out, so that I wouldn't miss doing important tasks. This scares me a lot. Hopefully gmail is configurable to pick up a lot of the slack.


Web apps are programs running on other peoples machines that you have no control over. If you enjoy the use of software and you don't even have the power to choose to downgrade when you don't like an upgrade, you're in a very poor position indeed. You're here on hacker news, you shouldn't be scared. This is just another reminder that Richard Stallman was right and an opportunity to form a community to create a replacement that respects user freedoms.

Why whenever some software service goes down is there somebody chastising everyone for trusting a third party? That's how the world works. I trust the cities to keep the roads open. I trust the province to keep the hospitals staffed. I trust the farmers to produce my food, the engineers to inspect the buildings I'm in, the mechanic to keep my car on the raod, the police to keep my neighbourhood safe. Why is it when all of a sudden it's software, I'm not allowed to put my trust in a third party? I delegate responsibility for things in my life. I don't see stopping that as improving my quality of life.

If you want to maintain your own email server as a hobby, go for it. I have different things I want to do with that time.


You trusting a lot of _well regulated_ industries and government run services is one matter. Blithely grouping them all together at all, let alone comparing them with software, is another thing altogether.

Setting aside the comparison you're trying to make, there are a lot of choices you can make. You can choose to rely on a web app hosted by a third party to secure all of your data and provide you with a consistent service. I think time and time again this is proven to be the most foolish choice, at least if you truly believe the service will continue to be provided. You can also choose to rely on third party services implementing common standards (i.e. POP and IMAP) and allow interchangeable third parties to provide services while your day to day interactions with your computer are managed by software that you run yourself. That software doesn't have to be open source or free. When you have purchased a license tied to a physical installation medium you are still in a better position to control how you choose to use your computer compared to being completely dependent on whatever trustusoksoftware.com is serving up today. Free software is best of all, but isn't the only alternative to web applications.

Anyways, I will come back around and address you on your own terms after all. You can draw parallels between open standards and the regulations governing all the services you claim are nothing more than time savers. You can also draw parallels between the civic duty to vote and take an active interest in the health of your society to the need to push for open standards and free software that respects user rights. Well functioning societies didn't pop up like mushrooms after rain overnight, and they don't continue to work without constant maintenance (not mere delegation of trust to third parties). Software needs to be treated as seriously as everything else you rely on. Personally you can save your time and ignore these issues entirely, but you can't just off hand compare anyone concerned with the current state of software freedom to being a model train builder and laugh it off as a waste of time.


> Gmail takes a traditional approach to email management. Messages come in, you read them, maybe organize them with labels, then archive them, delete them, or just leave them in your inbox forever.

Not that long ago, gmail was a radically new way to deal with email.

1) aggregating emails from a single conversation in your inbox - yes, on the old days, every incoming email was a line in your inbox.

2) providing archive functionality - no need to organise and file your old emails, just click archive and use the search later if you find you'll need them


You forgot 3- a search function that worked well and instantaneously. and you kind of covered it, but just to make it explicit- provided what was practically unlimited storage for the time- 2GB. Competitors were offering 5, maybe 10MB. I remember people hacking together a file system out of it because that was so astoundingly large for the time.

The fact that gmail is now taken for granted is quite interesting though, it really was astoundingly revolutionary at the time and really built the halo image around Google.


Threading in email clients has been around for decades. Actually I must check if there are mobile versions of mutt or elm.

And they thread properly. Unlike Gmail's bastardised 'We munge your subjects and think these are related'.

I considered implementing the Mutt threading algorithm in a browser extension for GMail. It's one of those "If I ever have less to do, I'll give it a shot" ideas that will never get done :)


> not that long ago

GMail was new 14 years ago. I think that's a pretty long time no matter how old you are.


IIRC gmail was also the first popular mail reader to use tags rather that folders to classify emails.

Exactly this is the key difference and what I'll miss. I really hope they add a "Inbox mode" to Gmail... Which they'll probably don't.

> Outside of some of the bundling features

Bundling (in the inbox) is THE reason for using Inbox. It's the only unique feature. It's the thing that changed how I use email.

If I use folders it's the kiss of death for any email that a rule sends to that folder. I want a single list but with some items collapsed.

Email went from unthreaded to threaded (reducing the complexity massively.

Bundles takes that one step further.

In both cases the critical thing is one ordered list but with a massively reduced number of individual items.


Same thing here !!

I don't want to go back to gmail, now it looks like a complete mess compared to Inbox.

Should I start writing a replacement client ? :///


I literally just logged into gmail instead of inbox for the first time in years now that I'm forced to migrate and... all I can say is wtf this mess. inbox was just about perfect. I'm going to miss bundles.

> Should I start writing a replacement client ? :/

Please do.


Yes, pleeeease do. I can't even imagine what I'm going to do come next year March :(

Let me know when you get started; make it open source. I'm so down to help

Please please please

I'll buy a copy

Snooze is the main reason I've been using Inbox.

That's in gmail now.

but it's no longer a single swipe - this was the best part of the Inbox snooze feature.

You can choose what to swipe left or right. Just found out.

Only on Android

and pinning!

Pinning was basically starring with a ui toggle, right?

No, it also allows you instantly archive everything in your Inbox without touching the important, pinned stuff.

I'm using it to pin important stuff, and switch between the important and standard views.

it's so useful

Doesn't simple tagging solve all the same problems?

Tagging requires constant manual intervention, I gave up trying to use tags years ago.

Smart, rule-based tagging which condenses multiple items down to a single row in my main inbox and allows granular control over when they surface then yeah.

Oh wait. That's bundles...


Looks like this was meant to be in reply to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17971740

I hate bundling.

They pushed it for all the github emails, and I had to unbundle them, separately for each github repo, super annoyingn.


> They pushed it

No. You didn't turn off the automatic categories. It's a single checkbox in settings.

My only bundles are the ones I've created and they work exactly how I want them.


Edison Mail has this and most features are talking about in here

Looks like a mobile-only app. I need something that runs in a browser as well. In fact - more so. I do most email management on my laptop.

Is there another way how to organise reminders in the inbox.

These are really unfortunate news! :(

My stress level just went up after opening gmail.com after few years since I switched to Inbox.

Being used to just swiping emails that I didn't need to attend, I didn't realize they were still in "unread" status.

Now when I opened Gmail, I see:

    Social          190
    Updates       4,856
    Forums        3,329
    Promotions    4,214
The worst part is that I cannot see which of those "Unread" emails are pinned in Inbox.

And.. we cannot Pin emails in Gmail the same way as in Inbox :( [I have already read the "Pin emails" section in https://support.google.com/inbox/answer/9117840, but starring/labeling/searching doesn't give the convenience that Inbox pinning did.]

I'll also miss all the rich email rendering of emails like shipping tracking, flight tickets, appointments, etc.

Alas..

---

Update: And of course Google would discontinue Inbox. Inbox did not have ads, but Gmail has freaking ads!


If they'd kept it as a flagship, bet those ads would be in there.

what's wrong with leaving emails unread?

For me, it’s because I can’t stand having meaningless ‘5,423’ badges littering the icons on my home screen.

We've been conditioned to have that reaction. (That's also why they're red.) Unread-badges are designed to make you open the app, thus increasing the amount of time spent in the app.

Freudian slip: I accidentally wrote "the time spent in the ad" on the first try. :)


yeah but every service you sign up for now has newsletters/mailing lists and constantly sends you semi relevant spam with the occasional gem that you can't instantly consign to the rubbish bin. inbox was so simple for dealing with things like that

You don't really miss anything by throwing every newsletter straight in the spam folder, the worst that will happen is that you hear life-changing news a day late. It will not kill you.

Noooooo, please just unsubscribe. I only sign up for newsletters I actually want to have delivered to my email but every once in a blue moon I notice that a newsletter went to spam instead of my inbox and invariably the reason given is "It is similar to messages that were identified as spam in the past." which to me means that other people marked it as spam instead of properly just unsubscribing.

I understand that it used to be very difficult or impossible to unsubscribe from stuff, but nowaways it's easier than ever as emails are basically required to have a one or two click unsubscribe system.


I get plenty of "newsletters" I never signed up for. Those deserve to be marked as spam. I can't trust that the unsubscribe link isn't used to harvest email addresses that are still in active use, so clicking one of those links is a net negative for me.

Hm, but if you marked them as "done" in inbox they should have been archived in gmail and not show as "unread" on the app icon as that only shows unread in inbox? That's they way it works for me at least. I use inbox and gmail both as apps on my iPhone and in the browser. I've been archiving and marked e-mails as "done" without reading them for years and never had this problem.

It's just as "meaningless" as having any other number badge on your home screen...

I don't like incorrect unread counts lying around.

I then cannot distinguish between truly unread emails and the emails that I swiped as Done in Inbox, but still left unread in Gmail.


The unread count is correct; you didn't really _read_ those emails. The problem is that the UI is placing undue emphasis on the number of emails you didn't read; that's a pretty irrelevant statistic. Half of the emails I receive don't need to be read; just glancing at the subject is enough.

Inbox got it right by not showing unread counts and just letting you mark emails as done when they're no longer needed.


Under your definition, the unread count is too low. Gmail counts something as read after you load its contents, not after you read it.

Dear user of product 'X' that you've come to depend on for your daily workflow and that you are completely happy with. To serve you better we have decided to kill of 'X' and force you into 'Y' which does some of 'X' but worse and will kill your workflow for the next couple of months, and will give you a lot of extra work to do besides. Of course 'Y' does not look the same - nor does it act the same - as 'X' but we are super excited to have an opportunity to force some change on you, the user, just because we value you so much and we really would never make a change like this as a way to cut costs. Best regards, your ever caring and loving supplier.

Wow! I haven’t used regular Gmail in years! It will be a pain to switch back. The whole bundling, scheduling, snoozing, pinning, reminders etc are really useful.

But then it’s Google. The key people probably got bored and moved on and perhaps no one else is willing to take it up. At least they didn’t make 10 different email products like they did with IM.

Any suggestions for alternative email clients for iOS/Android (other than Gmail app) which works well with Gmail? The iOS client doesn’t work well with Gmail. I’m looking for something which has as many as possible features from Inbox and doesn’t mess up my inbox — i.e. no Mail Pilot.


I recently switched back to Gmail from Inbox (before this announcement) and was pleasantly surprised that most of the features from Inbox were there. I barely had to change my workflow.

I like the way Inbox handles certain kind emails differently —- e.g. it extracts relevant data from newsletters, tickets, receipts, order confirmations, package tracking emails etc. so they are available at a quick glance. A quick glance tells me that is not the case with Gmail — correct me if I am mistaken.

Yep this is the biggest thing I'll miss. For example Inbox can automatically recognize a flight confirmation email and turn it into a rich card with supplemental information that wasn't even in the original email, stuff like the flight status and gate.

Additionally, the mobile app is amazing at deep linking back to the right place in another app. For example it can recognize a Seamless food order receipt and deep link back into the Seamless app to view the order status.


Ah yes, I don't think those features made it, but I never found that to be the killer feature anyway. Perhaps someone can remake those, now that Gmail has a proper marketplace for add-ons.

Do the addons work in the mobile apps or is it just browser things?

so now i have to pay for features that were previously bundled as part of the product...why exactly would i do that for a free email service?

For iOS I just stick with the native Mail.app to be honest.

It works well enough for regular IMAP or Exchange accounts, but there is something messed up with Google’s implementation of IMAP which causes the experience to be sub-par. Also, Mail.app doessn’t have anywhere near feature parity with Inbox.

Hence it makes the decision to move to Fastmail, which has standards compliant IMAP, so much easier.

Google's ADHD with products strikes again. It's really hard to get excited over new Google offerings because they just go away when Google gets bored of them, time and time again.

It's likely not google get bored, but users didn't adapt product on large enough scale.

It is a cycle. Google drops a product due to low uptick, so users don't take on further products. There are three products that I can think of that have lasted: search, email, ads (which is search, really).

[edit] oh, and maps!


Google Docs? Calendar? Groups? YouTube? Plus Android and Chrome, of course.

Search.

They bought Youtube and it served Ads. Calendar is part of Gmail. Groups is pretty much dead and hasn't been upgraded in years. Android and Chrome are part of Ads. Docs is probably the only new feature that they've developed, but people pay a good amount of money for it.

How is Chrome a part of ads?

Docs was an acquisition

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Docs,_Sheets,_and_Slide...


Chrome is analytics, not ads, but the two go hand in hand.

Voice. I've been using Voice for probably 10 years now. Most of the functionality has been subsumed by Hangouts, but it's still there and they even updated it within the last year.

Shhhh! I'm convinced Voice only stays because it's under the radar of upper management. Don't remind them it exists!

It would be very unfortunate for me to lose my default phone number...

Interesting.

I wonder if any regulations around phone numbers is actually what it protecting Voice from getting nuked from CEO orbit.


It could very well be the other way around too: product is getting too popular and doesn't have ads, but directly competes with our product that does have ads.

Reader/iGoogle didn't have ads, but stopped you from visiting places that did have ads.

Inbox didn't have ads, but was directly pulling users away from gmail which does.


Chrome?

> It's likely not google get bored, but users didn't adapt product on large enough scale.

What exactly is a "large enough scale"?

The mentality that a project is a failure unless it achieves exponential growth and massive world-eating scale needs to die in a fire.

Even small things have value, and one of the few good things about massive corporations is they have the resources to do a lot small things well. When you have 85,000 employees, focus is overrated.


> Even small things have value, and one of the few good things about massive corporations is they have the resources to do a lot small things well. When you have 85,000 employees, focus is overrated.

I like to think I understand the sentiment, but I think the reality is a bit more nuanced than that.

Inbox and GMail in all likeliness are in the same product area (PA) and thus at some point in the chain they report to the same person.

That being the case, if Inbox takes even 1/2 the time of this manager that GMail takes, then it's really not worth it because GMail easily has more than 10x the users.

My guess is that they will try to take all the things people liked about Inbox and bring them to GMail over time. They probably want to shut down Inbox before that happens so they can use more engineering resources to make that transition more quickly and also so that the tech stack is simpler by not having to support two different products.


> When you have 85,000 employees, focus is overrated.

probably less than half of them are engineers, and about 20% of them are capable to build complex systems. And now Google has quite long list of technologically complex products: search, ads, youtube, android. I think density of complex projects per capita may be much higher at Google than in other companies.


I wonder what scale would have been enough. According to the play store it has over 10 million installs

That's 1% of Gmail's 1 billion installs, again according to Play, to compare apples with apples.

That's as clear a sign as you can expect that users don't want Inbox, notwithstanding a noisy minority like us.


Could that just mean 1 million people installed it 10 times?

Maybe but I still think there's more than that. There's 400,000 reviews, so even if they're counting people that install it multiple times it's probably not a 10:1 ratio. Also I think "10 million+" on the play store means 10,000,000 - 50,000,000, and that doesn't count iOS and web users.

Another important question is what is a retention rate.

Possibly, but even then... 1 million users is a lot. I don’t think I’d ever sleep if one of my apps had 1M MAUs.

I liked Inbox but didn't want to use it because I expected it to get discontinued.

The reason I didn't adopt Inbox (for Android) initially was that it only worked for GMail whereas the regular GMail client also worked with 3rd party mail accounts.

I was also extremely hesitant because of Google's history of canning experimental apps and Inbox simply isn't integral enough to be safe from the routine culling (unlike e.g. Chrome or Maps).

I was an early adopter for Wave (which ended up going nowhere because nobody I knew wanted to give it a try and I didn't have enough invites to hand them out without knowing people would use them). I tried to get on Orkut but never got an invite (until it had already basically become the "Facebook of South America"). I strongly believed in Google+ as a potential Facebook killer and used it early on. I was also an avid user of Reader in the Web 2.0 days.

At this point, I no longer trust new Google products. Google seems to really want me to use Duo, for example, but nobody I know is eager to use it and I won't talk my friends into using it if it's not clear that it's here to stay. I'm not committing to any Google product if I don't have reason to believe they won't pull the rug whenever they please.


> Google seems to really want me to use Duo, for example, but nobody I know is eager to use it and I won't talk my friends into using it if it's not clear that it's here to stay.

Not to dismiss the rest of your point which is totally valid and a well deserved criticism, but you can use Duo to call people with Android phones even if they don't have Duo, so you don't actually need to convince them to use it.


> users didn't adapt product on large enough scale

Because users know it wont be a product that gets any updates and will be shutdown in 2 years.


Not to mention that it launched with a lot of missing features that existed in Gmail.

None of which I missed. I'm a poweruser in most of my computer interactions, but e-mail isn't one of them. I actually really liked Inbox's restricted feature set.

If 10 million users doesn't warrant keeping a product around even if unsupported, I don't know what is...

Ironical in this particular case, as inbox was the first mail client that helped my ADHD-PI brain keep a reasonably clean inbox, while still actually responding to people.

Everyone suspected it for a while. Their active Twitter account refused for months to say when the app would be updated for the iPhone X.

Personally, I suspect that they painted themselves into a bit of a corner with the tech stack they choose for Inbox. They used a unique C++ to JS compiler to run Inbox in the browser. This worked decently well in Chrome, but the experience in other browsers has been a lot choppier. It's possible the same codebase was also compiled to iOS and this is what caused the very long delay in updating for the iPhone X.

I'm sad to see it go. The UX in the official Gmail app isn't quite as good. The bundle workflow they developed for working through your inbox is something I haven't seen elsewhere.


When you have a successful product people love, you don't sunset it because the tech stack is too cumbersome.

This has to mean that the product wasn't seeing the adoption they were hoping for.


Love don't pay the bills.

If the product isn't helping the bottom line, companies will sunset it. "Free beer" would be the most widely adopted offering a bar could have, but it's not going to be good business for the bar.


> love don't pay the bills

Thats not always true especially with Google. Anything that helps tighten the already tight grip they have on users directly affects the bottom line.


That's sad. I would pay to use inbox.

I'm sure it's a little bit of both, right? If 99% of Gmail users had voluntarily migrated to Inbox, I'm quite certain it would not be getting shut down. That doesn't preclude that there is a significant contingent out there that loves Inbox.

(BTW the same goes for the old HN hobby-horse, Reader. If it had had a billion users, it would never have gotten shut down.)


Well, you're talking about product strategy in context of google..

You might if you find yourself developing duplicate features in parallel in two different codebases.

There was no C++ to JS compiler used, it was Java compiled to Closure Compiler (J2CL) and Java compiles to Objective-C (j2objc)

However only business logic is transpiled, the UI layer on every platform is written by hand in the native impedance matched language of the platform.


Ah, that's right, thanks for correcting me.

>They used a unique C++ to JS compiler to run Inbox in the browser

I would love to read some reasoning behind that. I'm really trying to come up with pro arguments but can't.


J2CL is much much faster than average react js code. Even testing converted port of bouncy castle's RSA and AES was faster than google's crypto.js

It's really interesting to see the super-knee jerk reaction here when the article itself even says that most of the features made their way into gmail.

(I was a heavy inbox user, and i am happy with the stuff that made it's way into gmail).

Outside of some of the bundling features, i'm curious what actual difference people are complaining about here.


>It's really interesting to see the super-knee jerk reaction here when the article itself even says that most of the features made their way into gmail.

We didn't just want "most [Inbox] features into gmail". We wanted Inbox's UI and basic approach further developed.


Again, i don't see most comments saying that here.

Can confirm that what I want is Inbox's UI. The ease of postponing items into the "Snoozed" queue, and low-effort addition of task items, are both lacking from the stock GMail app.

I just checked and you can actually set swipe left to snooze in the gmail app now.

It’s not available in the iOS app.

Not surprising, developing new features for iOS isn't Google's highest priority, they're targeting where most of the installed userbase is.

Similar effects can be seen in the OTT market. Roku gets new features from Sling, Netflix and the other OTT players first, with Chromecast and Fire TV lagging by months or years, and these 2nd tier players are missing Amazon Prime Video (Chromecast) or YouTube (Fire TV) respectively. It seems much like the music sales market IMO...


Heh, HN is great at downvoting without making a counterargument :P

The first is available in gmail :)

The reason I still use Inbox on Android, even when GMail has most of the same features is its interface design. I much prefer Inbox's approach where the emphesis is on the email subject instead of GMail's emphesis on sender. 90% of my emails are with the same 2-3 colleauges. They represent different threads for different projects and tasks. Gmail interface makes finding the right email cumbersome. I will continue using Inbox until it stops working.

People are complaining about having to switch apps. Users have found something that works and they've gotten used to it. Now they'll be forced to switch for no apparent value add. Why do you think people would be okay with that?

Once again Stallman shows that he was right all along.

That isn't the part i'm commenting on.

It's a general statement on the world that people hate all change :)

People have always argued literally every change has no value add for them (and i'm sure for large enough things, there are always people for which that is true).

So that part doesn't bug me.

But that's not what most of the comments seem to be. Because honestly, if the only complaint people have is "i had to open a different app", that's actually really good for any transition.


Come on. It's one of the essential, fundamental apps/services for many people with all the strong feelings attached to that. For a Googler to show up and start publicly calling users' reactions 'kneejerk' (completely independent of the accuracy of the claim) and then go on to philosophizing broadly on the nature of change amounts to trolling.

Change ...

- causes uncertainty (will this still work?);

- often comes at an inconvenient time;

- requires the user to re-learn the software;

- might cause incompatibilities with existing tools.

No wonder people mostly don't like updates, especially if they are forced upon them, and if the advantages are not clear.

Imho, to address the above points, software should let the user decide when they perform the update, and the user should always be allowed to switch back. Note that this might require data to be migrated back and forth, but of course that's the vendor's problem.


Deleting/sweeping a section of emails away on mobile is a huge productivity boost for me. The Gmail app on Android doesn't have this feature from what I can tell.

Snooze was a big one too, but that got crippled in Inbox a while ago as well.


The ability to mark emails as done or to pin them were hallmark features of the Inbox interface and they both take significantly more work in Gmail. I'm severely disappointed that they've decided to axe Inbox without at least pretending to care - by eg. providing a user survey.

Marking emails as done is just as easy in gmail as it was in inbox (I switched back a while ago). In inbox, swiping to "done" is equivalent to applying the archived label, which you can (in android and web, though apparently not ios), have swiping/closing the email do.

How do you mark a large list of emails as archived/deleted in Android?

Do you mean like selecting multiple (which I believe is possible, but I don't have the gmail app handy to check) and then labelling them all together, or like swiping a bundle away (which there is nothing analogous to I don't believe)

Oh no, pinning! I've so thoroughly integrated that into my expectations and behavior that I didn't even think about it.

I don't use Inbox -- what does pinning accomplish?

Inbox builds on a set of useful primitive ideas, but understanding them is necessary to understand pinning's value.

The central idea of Inbox is that your goal is INBOX ZERO, and that after dealing with any email, you swipe it to the side (or mark it as Done with the checkmark in the web UI) and _do not see it again_. (Like 'Archive' in Gmail.)

The second idea is that your emails are Bundled by category. This is similar to a tag or a filter, but you can choose to have them still show (as a bundle) in the inbox, rather than being filtered to not-seen oblivion. For example, I had one bundle for Pull Requests, another for Jira notifications. The app auto-categorizers things for Finances, Promos, etc, so many of the spam-like newsletters you get will end up bundled together. (Bundles default to only showing things that are not Done, unless you click a bundle's category on the left navigation bar.)

That doesn't sound very useful. What makes it useful is that you can archive/Done an entire category. All of those emails from TeeFury, Newegg, Amazon, Steam, Github, etc that you would normally consider usually-clutter suddenly are SUPER easy to deal with. It basically makes archiving those no longer annoying, as you can do it all at once. Best of all, you see them first, so it's harder to have something get filtered without being noticed.

Pinning prevents you from archiving an item (unless you explicitly click it). This means that you can ping something in a bundle, archive the bundle, and it will archive all the other things, and leave the bundle with that one item visible.

I am profoundly saddened that Inbox is going away. As others have said, it _changed my life_ in terms of how I dealt with overwhelming email volumes at work.


Ack, that just hit me now, too.

This is what I'm going to miss most. Heard the news and went to check the Gmail app only to realize I was going to have to spend much more time in my inbox.

I was bothered about the same thing but it looks like in the Gmail app you can configure the left/right swipes separately to "Archive", "Delete", "Mark as read/unread", "Move to", "Snooze" and "None". The default seems to be both set to "Archive".

> Outside of some of the bundling features, i'm curious what actual difference people are complaining about here.

Gmail’s horribly cluttered interface compared to Inbox, both on web and mobile.


Unread counts. They make me anxious. I have Inbox only show emails sent to me. Everything else gets bundled and up at 8AM. Inbox doesn't show unread counts anywhere. I don't have to feel like I'm constantly behind.

I think the important point for me is not like "This is a nice to have" or "I don't like extra clicking" it's "This affects my actual health." Literally, it's my health. Not doing this makes people who have mental illnesses like anxiety more unwell.


> Outside of bundling

Bundling is the main development that Inbox brought to the table.


Going to the video tape:

https://gmail.googleblog.com/2014/10/an-inbox-that-works-for...

Three things are highlighted:

Extraction of info from items and display (now in gmail)

Bundles (some made it into gmail)

Reminders, assists, and Snooze (now mostly in gmail)

So i'm not sure i'd agree with you here, but i definitely would agree that of the big three, bundling made it in the least :)


> Bundles (some made it into gmail)

Where? “Categories” were in Gmail before Inbox, but there still doesn't seem to be any way to get them bundled in the inbox the way Inbox’s primary display does, though you can set them as separate inboxes.


How can I get bundles in Gmail? Am I missing something?

Settings -> Inbox -> Categories is analogous, although IMO the UI isn't as nice. I also don't know if that lets you do custom bundles, although that's a feature I never used in Inbox.

Edit: and the gmail version of bundles has fewer categories than Inbox does


Sorry, not even close. Categories is just automatic folders, every email client has had folders for decades.

Is there a difference, other than bundles are inline with your other emails and categories are accessed in separate tabs?

I for example have all promo emails "queue" up whenever they come in and show up at 9am every day.

I have all "low priority" emails show up at 5pm when I'm winding down my workday to deal with them.

That's the kind of thing I'm going to miss the most.


You cannot create custom categories, you're limited to the 5 options Gmail provides you.

You can't archive all in one swipe.

Inbox users have had all of this and more since 2014, though. And even if Gmail has some of these features the interface is not nearly as natural for using them.

Is this in the gmail android app? How come I don't see any of this stuff?

Pressing `T` bringing up the reminders dialog and quickly adding a TODO, then being able to snooze it for a later date.

Gmail has `Tasks`, but I'm not aware of it showing up in the same stream as emails.


I get a ton of email and Inbox does a good job of popping a notification for only the truly important ones. Regular Gmail has the "important" flag which you can train but I get the sense it's not using the same signals or the same algo.

Gmail doesn't have reminders - and my reminders that I've saved and snoozed, many of which are past March of next year will apparently just disappear once Inbox is sunsetted?

Bundling (including the "Trips") is the only reason I still use any google web client. It's not trivial.

same here. trips bundling the one killer feature why I use inbox. I really hope it makes its way into gmail before they discontinue it

I'm with you. That's the only way I'd use gmail. When traveling it's so handy to open up the trips and get all your flight/car rental/hotel details in one small space.

Reminders aren't in Gmail, are they? I don't like having to check two inboxes, multiple times a day. Do you know why Google didn't add reminders to Gmail?

You also seem to believe that more features are always better, but part of Inbox's charm was that it wasn't bloated like Gmail.


Hitting sweep to immediately clear my inbox of all the crap in it that doesn't need dealing with.

Trips.

Using pinning to effect a simple TODO list.


Could you disclose your affiliation in such threads, please?

(Unless you have moved, in which case I'm sorry)


I'm mostly annoyed by the change because the new GMail site takes up twice as much RAM as the already RAM-hungry Inbox site. It's enormous.

I never used Inbox, but this seems like another sign that Google has moved to the next stage in the corporate life cycle; they don't need a testbed for innovative features because they're no longer in the innovation business.

Just because they've finished with the features Inbox was a testbed for (which I am deeply disappointed by because Inbox is so much better than Gmail as a daily driver) doesn't mean they are abandoning that kind of testing approach and have no further use for it.
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