Love it or loathe it, Gmail has been pretty innovative in recent times, influencing many other providers and clients. This week, Google took things a step further by releasing Inbox — a brand new app for iOS, Android and Chrome that blends together your email and Google Now.
Rather than simply serving up a giant time-ordered list of messages to sort through, Inbox acts as your mailroom assistant and personal organizer, all rolled into one. Messages are automatically filtered into Gmail categories (“Bundles”), such as Social and Promotions, and color-tagged appropriately.
In addition, each email is given a far more revealing preview, so you can see the document or image sent from a colleague or friend inline. Finally, there are Google Now notifications thrown into the mix, which are inserted according to their urgency and time dependency. Any of the above you want to deal with later can be snoozed, as well.
While sorting has been a (mostly underused) part of Gmail for some time, the other features look fresh and likable. It is all the work of the same team that created Sparrow — a super lightweight, easy-to-use email client for Mac and iOS that was acquired by Google a couple of years back. Sadly, that app was shut down, but the team have clearly continued their good work.
At present, Inbox is invite-only, but if you have a Gmail address, you just need to email firstname.lastname@example.org to get yourself on the list.
Extra Time — SmartNews
In the same way that email can be overwhelming, so can daily news, so the same kind of intelligent sorting is helpful. That’s the idea behind SmartNews (iOS/Android), an app which curates the most-read stories from around the web.
Much like Circa, SmartNews is particularly suited to skimming the latest headlines, and it will happily generate notifications for the subjects you’re most interested in. It also works offline, and like many of the best things in life, it’s free.