Editor’s note: Brian Clay is a Utah-based tech writer and car enthusiast. He’s been happily married for two years and originally comes from North Carolina.
A few weeks ago I managed to get my hands on Google’s new app, Inbox. So far I love it, but it’s not quite ready to be my go-to email app for a few reasons.
First, let’s start off with the good.
The UI is faster and smoother than the standard Gmail app. It is also more one-hand friendly, which is a necessity if you’re rocking the Nexus 6 monstrosity. For example, when you’re in an email, all you need to do is swipe up to get back to your inbox. The quick email toggle in the bottom right is also fantastic. I also love that Inbox remembers who I last emailed and gives me a quick option to email them again.
One feature I’m on the fence about is bundling. When you get an email, Inbox will automatically determine what category the email should go in. For example, if you get a flight confirmation it will automatically put it in your travel bundle. There are seven pre-set bundles: travel, purchases, finance, social, updates, forums and promos. You do have the option to create additional bundles with customizable rules. So the daily email update from your mom can go straight to a bundle instead of your inbox.
The reason I don’t like bundles is because I like to be able to see all my emails in the inbox, not in separate groups that I have to open. So right now I have the bundling turned off. The fact that Inbox is smart enough to know the difference between the types of emails I get is pretty awesome/stalkerish.
The snooze feature is great. I have been using a third-party plug-in to handle snoozing, but now that it is a built-in feature, snoozing is much faster and more intuitive. Even the location-based snoozing and reminders work really well.
The desktop version of Inbox is a big step up from Gmail in that it is well-organized and intuitive. Not being taken to a new page when you open an email is a great feature. Instead, the message expands and shrinks right in the fee. Hangouts is also better organized in Inbox; you can have it static on the right side of the screen or you can toggle a drop down. Either way you choose, it looks a thousand times better than Hangouts in Gmail.
Now for all of its great features, there are a few things that don’t work so well.
The biggest potential problem is that, as the app is right now, you can’t use email addresses that end in something other than @gmail.com. That means that I can’t use my work email on Inbox, which forces me to go to Gmail for any work-related emails. This also means that I get notifications from two different apps for the emails. There also isn’t any word on whether Inbox will support POP3 or IMAP, which is a feature Gmail 5.0 just got.
Another potentially problematic feature is that there isn’t any way to “select all” emails. Sure, you can’t select all in the Gmail app either, but on the desktop version you can. On both the app and the desktop version of Inbox there is no “select all” tool. One other problem is that you can’t drag and drop emails on the desktop version of Inbox like you can in Gmail, but that is a minor problem for me.
I’ve done a little testing to see how Inbox does in comparison to Gmail 5.0. I tested send and receive time, as well as load time and number of crashes per week. I conducted all the tests on a stock Moto X on the same Wi-Fi network to the same email address. Check out the charts* below to see how they compare.
While Inbox is slightly slower and crashes a little more often, I still think it’s a worthy effort. It’s also still early on for Inbox, and I am looking forward to retesting after the full release to see how it goes. I can see myself using Inbox as my primary email app as soon as they support my work email. Until then I am going to have to stick to Gmail. What do you guys think? I’ve got one invite left for a lucky commenter.
*Charts provided by DataHero