App Name: Inbox
App Developper: Google, Inc.
Platforms: Android, iOS, and web
Inbox is an app that helps organize and manage emails from accounts ending in @gmail.com. Emails are sorted into ‘bundles’ which places all similar emails together and allows the user to manage them simultaneously. For example, all promotional emails are placed together and can be swiped away or deleted all in one action. For emails with additional details such as travel plans or reservations, Inbox will provide the highlights without the need to open the message. Users can also snooze messages for a later date and add reminders based upon email messages. This adds a task-manager aspect to the user’s email experience. All of these actions sync with your gmail account to allow for an easy way to manage your email accounts.
I first downloaded the app to solve the very problem the app aspires to solve - managing an overwhelming number of emails efficiently and effectively. While I had been primarily using my mail program on my Mac, I found myself managing my email far more frequently through my mobile devices. Syncing with my device settings seemed ok, but I knew that a more efficient way to manage my accounts was to go Google - as my primary accounts are through Google. I was originally going to use the Gmail app, but came across Inbox in an article I was reading. I decided to give it a try and I am very glad I did. Inbox allows me to view similar messages simultaneously and I am able to sort them easily. I can see all of the promotional emails I am getting at once and delete them all very quickly. This has saved me some time compared to using Gmail. I can also sort messages placed into bundles into my Gmail folders, which then syncs with Gmail. I have also really enjoyed the snooze function - I snoozed emails I wanted to get back to after my vacation and they appeared in my Inbox when I returned at the top. This has definitely solved my email organization dilemma, but I still do not feel like I am using the app to its full potential at this point.
The app is fairly easy to use with a clean layout and large, colorful graphics. Navigation between accounts is similar to all Google apps, so users familiar with Google products will have an easy time making this transition. This also means you will need to toggle between accounts - I find this helpful, but I know many users would prefer to put all of their email accounts into one place. While the ability to swipe and mark messages as done is useful, I find myself preferring to sort many emails into folders to find easily at a later point. All emails swiped done are simply bundled with done and I would rather not search such a larger number of emails for what I may need in the future.
Since the primary intersection of Google and education is GAFE, this app would not work well. You cannot use Inbox with organization-based email accounts through Google. For example, the foundation I work for runs our domain, @jdofoundation.org, through Google, but I cannot use the Inbox app with this account. An error message will appear, saying that the organization has not yet enabled Inbox. This is also true for GAFE domain accounts. However, if this were to change I see it as a great tool for helping students stay organized and use email to help manage task completion and effectively communicate.
Overall, I would recommend this app to anyone who uses gmail and is trying to better organize their email process in a mobile setting. I know I have personally found myself feeling less overwhelmed and have been better able to utilize my email as a task list, especially with the snooze function. While I do not think the app is perfect, I think it is definitely a great tool for solving an everyday problem.
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.