Google Killing Off Inbox and Giving It Six Months to Live

It is so easy to get used to a daily routine on our computers and devices, whether it be using certain apps, services, our own personal workarounds and daily habits, etc. Once that changes, it’s easy to get thrown for a loop. And if it happens to be a favorite app or service, making a change that’s hard to work with or being removed altogether, it can see devastating.

Google announced this week that they’re getting rid of their Inbox app. This app seemed ahead of its time when it first came out in 2014 and became a quick favorite of mine. But now Google is killing off Inbox, giving it just six months to live.

Google readily admits that Inbox was experimental for them, saying in a blog entry announcing Inbox’s imminent death, that it “has been a great place to experiment with new ideas like snoozing emails to later, as well as try the latest AI-powered experiences like Smart Reply, Nudges, and high-priority notifications to help you stay productive.”

Those experimental features were exactly what made it so great. Aside from the very clean interface, it made it very easy to find things. It grouped emails by Promotion, Finance, Social, Purchases, Trips, etc. The Trips grouping was the best, putting all emails dealing with one trip together in a folder and giving it a beautiful image of your destination.

Along with making it easy to find emails, it also made it easy to achieve Inbox Zero, and if not zero, at least close enough so that what you were still retaining was nicely organized. It featured snoozing and also pins. Whoever first spoke the old cliché, “a place for everything, and everything in its place,” must have been an Inbox user.

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But Gmail just went through a huge overhaul and redesign earlier this year. And what I kept noticing while going through the changes was how similar they were to Inbox. It immediately made me wonder why one service would have two apps doing similar things. The answer, of course, is that they wouldn’t.

Google gave Inbox its due in their announcement that they were killing it off like a TV character whose actor had announced they were leaving the show after a contract dispute.

“Four years after launching Inbox in 2014, we’ve learned a lot about how to make email better – and we’ve taken popular Inbox experiences and added them into Gmail to help more than a billion people get more done with their emails every day.”

That was nice and all, but it was the following few sentences that made Inbox’s devoted fans gasp. “As we look to the future, we want to take a more focused approach that will help us bring the best email experience to everyone. As a result, we’re planning to focus solely on Gmail and say goodbye to Inbox by Gmail at the end of March 2019.”

Google has also thoughtfully realized that “change is hard” and created a “transition guide” to help users make the switch from Inbox to the new Gmail.

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The problem with that is that many Inbox users came to that app because they didn’t like Gmail. And while it has picked up some of the Inbox features, it’s still far from being the same, and users are letting Google know that in comments to the blog post and in social media.

As users were pointing out, that’s one of the continuing knocks on Google. They have done this before. They introduced apps/services, then get rid of them at their whim, leaving users out in the cold.

I stumbled upon this news tonight and then spent two hours searching the App Store looking for an alternative to Inbox. Even though I have six months to transition, I couldn’t get my mind off it (probably because I was writing this in my head as I went along, getting angrier and angrier).

I did not like the iOS Gmail app in 2014, and I do not like it now. And the only thing I dislike more than the iOS Gmail app is the iOS Mail app. I’ll just have to keep searching until I find something I like as much as Inbox. Luckily, I have those six months.

Were you a fan of Inbox? Do you like the Gmail app? Or do you avoid both altogether and use a separate service? Do you have a suggestion for an email app that can do it all? How do you handle it when one of your favorite apps disappears? Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments section below.

5 comments

  1. Google is making changes just for the sake of making changes and to keep users off balance. What will Google ax next?! So far, most of the apps Google deep-sixed were very popular. Why don’t they get rid of the less used apps?

    • That’s a good question and one I certainly have no answers to. After spending these days looking for an alternative, at least on the iOS end, I found there wasn’t. Most of the email apps are similar to Gmail or iOS’s Mail. Inbox was truly innovative and different, and was the favorite of many it seems. So why kill the innovation? If people like the Gmail interface, they can easily use the web app. They don’t really need a separate Gmail app. So why not keep the innovative Inbox app for those that prefer it and dump the Gmail app but keep the Gmail web app? Everyone would be happy then.

      But as Google admitted in their blog announcement, Inbox was used as a testing ground for their innovation. When they were done with it, they axed it. So it seems they have little care for their users’ experience, only for their own needs.

  2. so upset about hearing inbox is going i believe google will change their mind. If they don’t.. I’m moving to outlook.. I don’t want to have to re-adapt to gmail.

  3. Finally I found an email app that I committed to and, yes, actually liked: Inbox. I know individual users don’t mean anything to Google, but WTF.

    Now I need to waste MORE time findIng a new app. I just tried the new Gmail and it doesn’t have the Inbox features I use most, such as deleting all Promos with one icon.

    DAMMIT GOOGLE!!

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