On Wednesday, Google unveiled its new take on email with a product they call Inbox. It’s currently available by invitation only, but we were lucky enough to get access right away and we’ve spent the last 24 hours playing with it.
While it may, at first glance, seem like a straight-forward redesign of Gmail, it’s actually a totally new system that’s designed to help people better manage and visualize their inboxes’ overwhelming amount of information.
Google says that Inbox– a product that’s been years in the making– is designed to help people focus on what really matters to them. Unlike a traditional email system that lists your messages chronologically, Inbox algorithmically scans your messages, organizes and orders them in a feed that has a distinct social network-like look and feel.
How Inbox does that is through what Google calls Bundles and Highlights. Inbox automatically sorts your messages into bundles based on subject matter such as Finance, Social and Travel. It also highlights important content from messages (such as flight itineraries) with visual, snackable information (including actions like boarding-pass barcodes) similar to a Google Now card.
Inbox takes this a step further with a new intelligent reminder system feature, which allows you to create tasks that will pop up at a specific time or location. Inbox even helps you complete those tasks by providing intelligent pieces of information such as phone numbers and weather (Google calls these Assists). For example, say you add a reminder to “make a reservation at [restaurant],” Inbox will immediately supplement the restaurant’s phone number and business hours. Both reminders as well as email messages can be conveniently snoozed to other days or locations.
All of these features would be incredibly beneficial to a traveler. Below, we highlight some ways to use Inbox to improve your travel experience:
Let’s say you’ve recently booked a flight to Portland, Oregon. You’d like to reserve a hotel as well, but want to do it later that night when you have more time to research. Simply set up a Reminder to “Reserve a hotel in Portland”. The reminder will show up in your Inbox later that night with the text, along with a link to a search engine results page about hotels in the Portland area.
You’re going to need to pack some clothes before you leave. Simply create a Reminder to “Pack clothes for Portland” for the day you leave. Not only will it remind you to pack, but it will also give you the current weather in your destination. No more inconvenient trips to the outlet mall once you’re off the plane.
After you’ve booked your flight, car, hotel, etc., Google Inbox will display them in a card format. You can see all these Highlights when you click on the Travel Bundle. Now you have all your pertinent travel information at your fingertips while traveling.
Google Inbox is also helpful when people come to visit you. Perhaps you have friends coming into town next week, and you’d like to take them out to a restaurant you just heard about. Set a Reminder to ‘make a reservation at [restaurant]’ for later in the week. When that reminder comes back up in your Inbox it will not only have the text, but also a phone call link and the hours of operation. Now you look like a rockstar to your friends.
Inbox is free, and available for Android phones (4.1 and up), iPhone (iOS 7 and up) and Chrome browser on a computer. Gmail users can request an invitation by sending an email to Inbox@google.com.