Over the past couple of days, reports have been surfacing that suggest Google has something big planned for the future. Users are reporting a pop-up message that reads, “Thanks for trying Inbox! To make it easier we’ve updated Gmail to redirect you here”, followed by two buttons, ‘Turn it off’ or ‘OK’. While it still seems like an option for now, the implementation itself could mean that Google’s Gmail may have reached its end of life as a service.
Something rather interesting is happening at the Gmail.com domain. Google has started notifying users of its experimental ‘Inbox By Gmail’ service that this has replaced their Gmail account.
To be clear, there is an option to turn off the redirect from Inbox’s settings menu. But the fact remains that Google has a clear idea of the direction its services are heading, and Gmail isn’t along for the ride.
Launched back in October 2014, Inbox was introduced as an experimental email client, available on an invite-only basis. Not only could it bundle together similar emails like transaction reports and promotional material, it has also since added the functionality to auto-reply, set reminders for and snooze emails, as well as recognise and bubble up information from tickets whenever you need it. And all of this was eventually expected to tie in to your presence in the Google ecosystem.
Clearly, after more than a year in testing, Google feels Inbox is ready for the big time, but they’re being very careful to not upset the public, which has proven time and again to be very resistant to drastic change. Both Gmail and Inbox are still available as standalone email clients, and its unlikely Google will force any switch over to the new service. What is possible however, is them possibly offering “perks” to Inbox users in the future; perhaps something like added Google Drive storage. What’s certain is that, though the timeline is fuzzy, Gmail will not be around forever, and there’ll be a new kid on the block to take its place.
Inbox clearly is the evolution of Gmail, it is smarter and many have termed it as the ‘future of email’. Still then, not everybody wants such levels of automation, for those who do not need it, Gmail should be readily available as optional interface. For now Google is not forcing users to migrate as you still have an option to opt out, but we could see Google pushing for it in the near future as it happened with the Google Photos service.
Another issue with many users would indeed be the Inbox app on iOS, which is built keeping in mind Google’s Material Design guidelines and presents a similar UI when compared to its desktop counterpart. Not everyone is a fan of the same and many still use the standard (now ignored) Gmail iOS app, which has not seen a major update since March 2015.
Microsoft’s Outlook seems like a better choice for many thanks to better design and integration, one that is familiar with iOS 9’s design guidelines. On the bright side, Google ‘s Inbox app does play well with the rest of its iOS offerings (Calendar, Maps etc.), so it is a plus point for those who are hooked up to Google’s services. Back in the Android camp, Google’s Gmail seems to have plenty of well integrated app options.