Google wants Inbox to be your email system for the next decade

Google wants Inbox to be your email system for the next decade

Two years ago, a team of engineers and designers on Google’s Gmail team decided that Gmail wasn’t cutting it.

Google’s signature email program first hit the Web in 2004. In its earliest days, it was a godsend to everyone who battled against a daily rush of messages.

But email has once again become too onerous. There’s too much mail and it performs too many functions in our lives. Email is a place for correspondence, for status alerts from social networks and online stores and airlines, and a file system for transferring and storing important documents. For many people it’s also a to-do list and quasi-calendar, the central planner and task manager for your day. And though it is tremendously useful and will never die, email is also, for many people, completely annoying.

So the Gmail team decided to rethink email. “We decided, ‘What if we cleared our minds, started fresh, and built something new to help people get back to what mattered to them?’” said Alex Gawley, Gmail’s product director, in an interview at Google’s headquarters. “What if we did more of the work for them?”

The program that Mr. Gawley and his team have come up with is Inbox, and Google on Wednesday plans to release a version for Android, iOS devices and the web on an invitation-only basis. Inbox isn’t an upgrade to Gmail. It’s a long-term replacement for it. Though Gmail isn’t going anywhere — Inbox’s creators stressed that they love Gmail and that Google plans to keep working on it — Inbox is meant to be your email system for the next decade.

You’ll sign into Inbox with your Gmail account and you’ll see all your old messages there, and much of what you do in Inbox will be reflected in Gmail. But Google expects most people to use Inbox or Gmail, not both. In fact, both Mr. Gawley and Jason Cornwell, Gmail’s lead designer, say they get their mail through Inbox, not Gmail.

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