back to article Google opens 'Inbox' heir-to-email trial to biz users

The last time Google tried to “reinvent the way you get things done”, the term it uses to describe its heir-to-email app "Inbox", it wiped out with the solving-a-problem-people-didn't-know-they-had "Wave" service. But there's still clearly some demand for something other than email, as The Chocolate Factory says demand among …

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Devil

Open source

Google - We use "open source" so that you don't have to. E-mail is obviously far to much trouble for a business to do, so we will do it for you, and monetorize you to our real customers. You are not a customer of Google even if you pay them, just a resource to ber mined.

"Don't be evil", unless it helps us become more powerful and earn even more...

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Childcatcher

Re: Open source

I understand Google is always working on new ways to "reinvent" old products. They have been a bit frustrated with their reworking of water as "Kool Aid" has already been taken. They continue to ask us to drink it, though.

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If it ain't broke

don't fix it.

When it was first invented e-mail was a revelation - instant-ish written communication. But we did have to dial up from time-to-time to see if there were any messages and download them, and dial in again to upload.

Modern e-mail with broadband works just fine - and used with a mobile it's effectively instant messaging, but with attachments and unlimited length. And you can save them for a very long time.

I predict another Google service that will be retired in a couple of years.

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Re: If it ain't broke

There are a few extra things I'd like to do with e-mail - and I'm not going to mention them here - but good luck to Google anyway.

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Re: If it ain't broke

It is broke. Spam is not a thing caused by natural laws. It's there because email is broke.

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Re: If it ain't broke

@Robert Grant Spam? What's that? I never see any. Oh wait, that's probably because I use gmail. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If it ain't broke

Spam is there because E-mail allows people you don't know to contact you. Without this, E-mail would just be closed user groups. These are useful, but they still have the same problem when it comes to setting up the group in the first place.

Suppose A and B know each other and want to exchange messages - how can they enable this? Today's IM systems have pop-up spam of the form:

"random_stranger_90210 wants you to add him/her to your contacts, accept/deny?"

How do you propose getting rid of that?

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Re: If it ain't broke

"Spam is not a thing caused by natural laws"

We'll have to agree to disgree on that one since human nature (i.e. some tits still click on links in spam and open attachments etc.) is a natural law.

I'd like a decent email client with built in key management and file storage options. I used to have a couple of add-ons for Outlook that did these things but every company I work at is different regarding what you can and cannot install.

If it was there by default it would be useful and that latter would especially be useful for all those expanding waistlines on the HDD's where users store all their attachments and important emails in the Deleted Items folder.

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Re: If it ain't broke

@Robert Grant

Blaming e-mail for spam is like blaming the telephone system for cold callers.

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Re: If it ain't broke

@Sir Runcible Spoon

You looked at The Bat (http://ritlabs.com)? Awesome mail client and they do a client-on-a-usb-stick version (voyager) that might solve your portability problems.

Failing that, you can use POP3 at home and IMAP-leave-it-on-the-server on your phone throughout the day, so you can stay informed, and the archive version ends up on your home machine.

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Unhappy

Re: If it ain't broke

"I predict another Google service that will be retired in a couple of years."

I predict another Google service that will be forced on people in a couple of years, even if they don't want it.

Fixed.

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Re: If it ain't broke

@Moiety, thanks for the tip.

Unfortunately for my work I have to use whatever software the company I'm contracted to dictates, they take a very dim view of non-sanctioned software for some reason ;)

Once upon a time Outlook had standard plug-ins for PGP and for saving attachments offline (whilst leaving a link to the file in the email itself). Sadly no more with 2010. Progress eh?

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Re: If it ain't broke

Welcome. For keeping your own act together then, I'd go the POP (home) + IMAP (out and about) route then. You just have to remember to synchronise your portable client to fetch mail before the home-based POP comes in and downloads it all. I use a similar system for mailing myself back ideas from the pub and also taking client notes (also from the pub) and -after a bit of initial fiddling- it works rather well. Free over pub wifi.

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Re: If it ain't broke

Well I think they found a way ...

Started getting these messages Today when I used Thunderbird ...

---------------------------------------

Hi James,T,

We recently blocked a sign-in attempt to your Google Account [**********@gmail.com].

Sign in attempt details

Date & Time: Monday, March 2, 11:20 AM GMT+11

Location: Sydney NSW, Australia

If this wasn't you

Please review your Account Activity page at https://security.google.com/settings/security/activity to see if anything looks suspicious. Whoever tried to sign in to your account knows your password; we recommend that you change it right away.

If this was you

You can switch to an app made by Google such as Gmail to access your account (recommended) or change your settings at https://www.google.com/settings/security/lesssecureapps so that your account is no longer protected by modern security standards.

To learn more, see https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/6010255.

Sincerely,

The Google Accounts team

-------------------------------------------------

When I try to log in with Tbird It fails giving a password, I have fixed it, and not the way they want, but that's me ...

I know they "own" gmail, but a Single OS distribution source was what they hated, now it seems, there are trying to enforce it ...

I will wait for Tbird update ...

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Outlook?

A quick look at the promo shots on http://www.google.co.uk/inbox/ would seem to indicate this is less than revolutionary. Looks like Gmail with a to do list. Outlook's reminder flags has done this for years.

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I'm not sure how many of the wise commenters here have actually used inbox - some of the comments kind of miss the point. I've been trying it out for a few months on my personal account.

From what I see, it basically does three things:

1. Automatically grouping emails. You can teach it how to group them. This absorbs the conversations like function that gmail and outlook have had for years. It's also a little more sophisticated than the tabs that gmail introduced a year or so back.

2. Focusing on action items - so making links and the like directly visable.

3. Sleep/snooze etc items. This is similar to flags, except they're a little more clever (e.g. only trigger when I'm at home or in the office next). These can be applied to individual items or to groups.

What it practically means is that if I order something from Amazon, it groups all the emails together and at a glance I can see the delivery status of my order and click directly on the tracking link (this is without opening the email). That's quite useful. (It doesn't, unfortunately, tell me how much tax I've avoided in the process). At the same time, the forum updates I signed up to to find whatever it is I've just bought and read all the reviews are quietly shuffled off to a separate group that I can look at when I have time.

The key here is that it's mostly automated and simplified. That is radically different from Outlook where I'd have to tell it to do all of that (e.g. to open the preview pane, create a filter) and would then apply the rules to all emails in quite a dumb way. I can enhance inbox - so I've long had a set of rules to label incoming email in gmail.

Now, I'm not actually defending inbox: I'm not totally convinced by it myself. My issue is that whilst it automates things, that automation is a little opaque and I'm not always sure that it's either right or good; sometimes dumb rules that I can write/understand/fix are better. The other issue is that it's not very good at hiding items once you've actioned them. So those Amazon orders remain front and centre until I hide the whole email. I'm also conscious that it means google is processing my inbox to make all these decisions, which might upset some people's sense of privacy.

The point is, it makes sense to critique/question inbox for what it is - not what it isn't. And what it is doing is quite a few steps ahead of outlook.

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Anonymous Coward

So, if I get this right, it's like Thunderbird's/Mail smart folders with some added Bayasian sauce and timed flags?

That could indeed be useful, I hope Mozilla and Apple add this idea because as wonderful as Google appears to be, I cannot use it (due to a mix of Data Protection requirements and legal obligations).

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I broadly agree with you. Certainly your principle that it should be critiqued for what it is rather than what it isn't is important.

I've used it for several months, but ultimately went back to my old email client for a few reasons.

1. It doesn't have an easy swipe to delete option. I get lots of emails that once read I never want to see again and so delete. That isn't the same as 'done'.

2. For better or worse I've got used to having everything in my inbox so that I can quickly scan down for stuff I still want to do.

3. The 'remind me later' turned out to be a PITN because things disappeared from my inbox until the due date and it was easier to forget about it entirely.

For anyone who likes the 'inbox zero' approach it is a really neat way of handling things, and I may look at the next iteration and see if they have fixed any of the bugs or issues I've raised.

Certainly interesting to see them trying something new.

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Anonymous Coward

Clicking on a link without opening the email ?!

Saves you exactly a grand total amount of 1 click.

Sheesh! That says a lot about you, you desperately needed that thingy from Google! <Shudder>

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What it practically means is that if I order something from Amazon, it groups all the emails together and at a glance I can see the delivery status of my order and click directly on the tracking link (this is without opening the email)...

sort of like the folder I created in yahoo mail called "Amazon" where - wait for it - all my emails from amazon go???

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Thumb Up

Have an upvote for actually sharing your experience/point of view.

I've also been trying inbox for a month now and I have your same feelings. It works ok and have very nice feature.

I really like the snooze button and the fact that overall it helps to keep the inbox clean from old email: if it's something that you are going to do in the future just snooze, if you have completed it click on "done". Of course this could be done in the old gmail/outlook, but here it's the whole point of the interface.

On the other hand, this means giving more data to google (can we possibly give more?) and the interface needs a bit of polishing, it needs time to get used to some changes with respect to gmail and, as usual, some features have disappears. Also I really don't like the fact that you have to use chrome, although with a little help from an user-agent switcher plugin you can use it on firefox (which gets me even more disappointed as there's no reason to restrict it only to google's browser).

Overall, I think there's good ideas and possibly the good stuff will flow back into gmail in the future.

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Anonymous Coward

Ahh,

So google's email is dead, Inbox, is, er , email. amazeballs...

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Anonymous Coward

Just give me on-by-default encryption, with some standard way for recipients to install my public key to read them. As a minimum, digital signing by default.

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Agreed. Automatic PEM, S/MIME, and PGP/GPG support would be about a million times more useful to me than some machine-learning sauce (which I don't want anyway, as I am actually capable of deciding for myself what to do with my email). And they'd be even more useful for users who don't understand them and have better things to do than learn about them. Wide deployment would put a huge dent in phishing, for example.

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