So Long, Mail. Hello, Inbox.

After years of insisting on a desktop app to read my email over a web app, that’s finally changing. When I was still running Windows, I switched back and forth between Outlook and Windows Live Mail (yes, it’s been that long since I ran Windows regularly). When I switched to a Macintosh in 2009, I thought Mail was vastly superior to anything else available at the time. Entourage was simply painful, and I had no desire to pay for an iffy third-party app.

Mail on Yosemite. It's layout works well on a 1080 display, but does little else well.
Mail on Yosemite. It’s layout works well on a 1080 display, but does little else well.

For a while, on my iPhone, I had replaced Mail with GMail. GMail simply worked much better and since GMail is my primary email, the switch just made sense. When Apple released Mavericks, it was clear Apple and Google were still having a piss fight with each other. Mail’s performance with GMail became practically unusable, but I still stuck with it. However, as Mavericks started transitioning to Yosemite, it was clear Mail was no longer going to cut it. It had become slow, clunky, and badly out of sync with GMail.

When Google announced Inbox, I jumped on the opportunity for an invite right away. It was slick, fast, and appeared to be able to be the answer to my inbox of 1,268 messages waiting to be sorted through. When I received my invite, I quickly replaced GMail with Inbox and my iPhone and started playing around. Given its dramatic departure from the GMail I knew, there was a fairly steep learning curve, and a lot of its features I’ve found by accident. But, Google has clearly been listening.

One thing that quickly became clear, was Mail back on my desktop was completely clueless how to handle my email now that I had switched to Inbox. I kept using it was a couple of days, but eventually found myself turning to the web app for Inbox more and more. Now, unless I need to send an email from my Drexel account, I’ve given up on Mail completely. It’s very clear to me that web apps have finally caught up with desktop apps, or rather in the case of Inbox, become vastly superior.

Now, Inbox does take a bit of getting used to, and I’ve found in my case, it’s also required a bit of changing habits. However, I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Inbox on the web is a simple, centered listing of mail. While it doesn't have a split between the list of messages and an open one, opened messages take up almost the entire display area in the center.
Inbox on the web is a simple, centered listing of mail. While it doesn’t have a split between the list of messages and an open one, opened messages take up almost the entire display area in the center.

Ignoring the pinned messages that I need to follow-up on (and I get several of those a day), for the first time in five years, I’ve hit inbox zero. As I write this, I only have seven unread messages, half of which will be trashed anyway. For a while now, my daily email has been newsletters. However, the balance of junk to real mail is starting to balance out again now that I’m in my final year here at Drexel. Inbox’s Snooze and Pin features have been an absolute lifesaver for me this year. Right now, I’m juggling eight projects at the same time, two of which are long-term, one will be done in two weeks (a final project), one Q1 of next year, and the rest to be determined.

Is Inbox perfect? No, and I wouldn’t recommend it to casual email users at this time because of the learning curve (unless it will be your first email experience. Ever.) For power-users of Gmail, I’d say definitely get on the waitlist for an invite. And for those who get way too much email in a day (the other half of me), your mileage may vary. As I said, Inbox takes getting used to, as well as, in some cases, a change of habits. It is, without a doubt though, a very interesting approach to email, and it’s one I love.

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