Google's Inbox App Is The Twist On Email You Didn't Realize You Needed

How much time do you spend each day with one eye glued to your email? I'm probably around five to six hours on average, and I'm sure that's true for a lot of people — if you do any serious work on the internet, there's a good chance you'll end up tethered to your email like a newborn to its umbilical cord. Which is why it's great that something new is coming along, to shake up the same old routine: Google's new "Inbox" app will change how you email, and that's exactly what they had in mind.

Inbox, a new app produced by the Google team that developed Gmail, but it isn't an update or imitation. Instead, it's trying to turn email into a less info-heavy, more palatably presented experience, partly by paring down the amount of emails you need to specifically open and examine. Inbox culls certain bits of vital information from within your emails — phone numbers or plane departure times, say — and presents it in the scrollbar beneath the subject line, saving you the trouble of rooting through each one. While it's not in widespread release just yet, and requires an invitation, it's hard not to be intrigued.

As Dieter Bohn of The Verge points out, the visual scheme central to Inbox may look familiar if you've ever used Google Now. Inbox apparently streamlines your email into a series of subject lines grouped by type, using algorithms both to suss out what kind of message it is — whether business, personal, travel-related, what have you — and what pieces of key information to bring forward.

If you want to give it a try on your web browser, assuming you've secured that ever-important invitation, you'll have to be using Google Chrome. It's also available for Android phones and iPhones, however, and that's probably how the app looks most exciting, to me at least. Being able to scan for info without even having to open an email sounds like a more genuinely exciting timesaver with the on-the-go convenience of a mobile device.

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Even better, Inbox lets you set things like alarms and reminders without having to drop out of the app. This is a considerable advantage over the existing Gmail experience for iPhone, at the very least — it gets annoying having to drop out of the traditional app to set an alarm for something that's referenced in an email, but with Inbox, you can take care of this all in what looks to be seamless fashion.

There's no telling how long it'll be before Inbox transitions from an invite-only app into something all the masses can enjoy — it's easy to forget, but Gmail itself was invite-only for almost three years — but according to Google's official blog, the first round of invitations went out Wednesday. But if you didn't get one, and you don't have a friend who did, the blog says you can request one by sending an email to inbox@google.com.

Images: Google (2)