Technologizer

Gmail’s New Inbox: Another Way to Auto-Organize Your Messages

Google's new approach to inbox organization sorts messages of different sorts into tabs.

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Last week’s rumor was the real deal: Google is rolling out a new Gmail inbox today which autosorts incoming messages so important stuff is easy to find and clutter stays out of the way.

Wait: doesn’t Gmail’s Priority Inbox do that? Well, yes. But the new inbox (which you can choose to use if you’re not using Priority Inbox) is a different take on the same general concept. Instead of attempting to figure out which messages matter most to you and then promoting them to the top of your inbox, the new one sticks tabs across the top — up to five of them, for “Primary” messages (basically, ones from real people, plus anything else you haven’t chosen to weed out), Social (stuff like Facebook and Twitter updates), Promotions (ads), Updates (bills, notifications, etc.) and Forums (mailing lists and the like). Each tab indicates how many unread messages you’ve got in that category, so you can monitor incoming messages even if they don’t pop up on your current tab.

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Google

Conceptually, this is simpler than Priority Inbox, since Gmail is only trying to sort messages into general categories rather than figure out which people are more important to you than others. (I’ve been using the new version for a few days, and the sorting seems to work really well). And you need to proactively click around to other tabs to see less-important messages, so the Primary tab feels more streamlined than Priority Inbox’s stacked-inboxes approach (the latter feels a tad cluttered, at least to me).

Bottom line: the new inbox is an interesting option for folks who haven’t warmed to Priority Inbox. Like, for instance, me — I admire Priority, but tend to use it for a bit, then turn it off, then try it again.

The new inbox is rolling out to users over the coming weeks; it’ll also be available in Gmail’s Android and iOS apps. It’s good to see a major new Gmail feature debut in both old-school and mobile Gmail at the same time — and for a while, at least, this is going to be the Gmail inbox I’ll use.

Here’s a video demo:

10 comments
AlanRalph
AlanRalph

The new feature showed up in my GMail today, and looks like it could be really useful for me. However, I'm holding off for now because I use GMail primarily via the iOS app, and that has yet to be updated. I'm actually surprised that Google didn't update their mobile apps in sync with the roll-out of of the new inbox categories feature.

When they do, though - and if they do it right on mobile - it would solve the one problem I have with using GMail away from my computer, the inability to filter incoming emails. Here's hoping!

SourcesToldUs
SourcesToldUs

For God's sake, just let us sort by sender, subject, and date like any other sane email reader!

irees
irees

This looks like a response to the revamped Outlook.com, especially with Microsoft pulling out all the advertisements on the easy organization on Outlook. I see what you're doing, GMail.

controller
controller

Sounds exactly like outlook.com albeit with the tabs on top rather than on the left..

GeorgePurcell
GeorgePurcell

Too little, too late.  Moved to Outlook.com a year ago.

AlanRalph
AlanRalph

@GeorgePurcell I was initially interested in Outlook.com when it launched, but the lack of IMAP support put me off. For now, GMail still does the job well enough for me.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

I use Thunderbird and an IMAP configuration for getting my g-mail.  It's faster, easier and more convenient to access WITHOUT having to "sign in" and be tracked all over hell by Google.  It doesn't change every six months (or at least no more often than Thunderbird does) and I don't have a learning curve every time I want to read one of my seven or eight different e-mail accounts.

I do the same on my laptop.  Since I am smart enough to not use a tablet for e-mail, that's a non-issue, and who the hell wants to check their e-mail on their PHONE?  IMHO, only those who want to have eyesight like Mr. Magoo by the time they're 50.  So while Google entertains itself in trying to get me to sign in and track me wherever I go, I can be where I want to be without them (or anyone else) knowing where that is.

AlanRalph
AlanRalph

@DeweySayenoff Given your distrust of Google, I'm actually surprised you're still using their products! Personally, I regularly use my tablet to check email and social networks, for the simple reason that it frees up my computer for actual work. I'll grant you that email on your phone is problematic, so I just have it in eye-range as a notifier when I'm working on other stuff.