Google Inbox

October 23rd, 2014

Google, yesterday:

Today, we’re introducing something new. It’s called Inbox. Years in the making, Inbox is by the same people who brought you Gmail, but it’s not Gmail: it’s a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters.

That “years in the making” part screams “we thought of this before Mailbox but didn’t get it out before they did”. Which I doubt they did but… it sort of sounds like Instagram’s “we thought of 15 second videos before it was cool too” moment.

Anyway, Inbox looks terrible. It looks like Google+. Which is to say it looks poorly designed. I know, I’m not usually this harsh, and I’d like to say otherwise but it really is. Even though John Gruber disagrees.

Google is building reactionary products and it shows.

Because they are trying to build a product that competes with an already existing competitor — they end up making poor design decisions. Sometimes when you are inspired by others you can wait long enough to make something that is, to some degree, better than that which came before it. But other times you simply try to make something that has the same features but looks different so that people don’t call you out for it.

But often times by doing it slightly differently you end up doing it slightly worse. Mailbox’s gestures and UI for scheduling emails to respond to them at a later date is intuitive and obvious. Inbox’s are just a list. In Mailbox the “Inbox” paradigm is maintained (because it works) yet in Google’s it looks like a social media feed. Which doesn’t end up working very good for email.

I really love Mailbox. I’m using it both on the Mac and on iOS every single day and I have come to rely on its features. Perhaps that is why when I see Inbox I simply think — Bleh.