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An open email to Google Inbox

Mike Elgan | Nov. 3, 2014
I really wanted to hate Inbox; then I tried it.

Google Inbox
Google Inbox Credit: Google

Dear Google Inbox:

I wanted to hate you. I really did.

At first I thought: "Oh, you think you're so great with your fancy Material Design and snobby invitation-only access. But I know your type. You're really out to kill my beloved email, and take away control from me and give it to some faceless algorithm that never sleeps."

Look, I know plain-vanilla email is un-glamorous and ugly. But I've spent 20 years figuring out how to use it productively. Heck, within Gmail alone, which I've used now for seven years, I've built up hundreds of filters and spent hundreds of hours to manage and optimize and tweak my email system to perfection.

You see, I'm a zero inbox guy. I consider email the original and only universal social network. In fact, I've used all the tech pundit cliches about email, and believed them.

I have to admit that after Leo Laporte invited me to Inbox, I just intended to "use" you. You know, for the sake of learning all about you so that I might better criticize and oppose you. Know thy enemy, etc.

And in fact our first couple of days together my fears and suspicions were confirmed. You gave me that queasy feeling that I didn't really understand where the messages were going and couldn't really trust you to not hide things from me.

But after you proved perfectly reliable, and after I discovered that it's somehow even easier to un-archive, un-delete and search for filed away messages than in Gmail itself, I came to trust you.

More than that. I began to prefer Inbox over regular Gmail, and then even more than Mailbox (which helped pioneer some of the gestures you're using). Now, I kind of feel addicted to you.

The reason is some combination of visual appeal, mental clarity about what's going on and super ease of use.

They say design is about how you make people feel. And your design makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.

You're a multifaceted creature, to be sure -- a cross between email, a to do list and Google Now, with an extra helping of search, geofencing, snoozing and other cool tricks.

How did you know that I always wanted a great to-do list integrated with email, and have tried to use the Gmail Tasks feature of Gmail many times (logically concluding that it should work and optimistically hoping that this time it will be different)? Each time I tried Tasks, it always left me uneasy -- it was too cold and utilitarian to spend much time with.


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