As of April 2, 2019, Google has shut down Inbox for good. We'll certainly miss using it for all of our email needs, but Gmail has improved a lot since Inbox's release in 2014 and is the best alternative you'll find.
The closest you'll get to the Inbox experience.
Although many of us used Inbox because it had lots of features that were lacking in Gmail, this has steadily changed over the years. With plenty of useful features and far greater stability than anything else on our list, Gmail is the best Inbox alternative.
Who should use Gmail?
If you haven't checked out Gmail since Inbox stole you away from it in 2014, a lot's been added that makes Google's primary email app worth revisiting. Emails are sorted into specific categories so you can focus on what matters, it's easy to switch back and forth between multiple accounts, you can use Smart Replies, and even schedule emails to be sent at a later date. It may not be a perfect Inbox clone, but it's already pretty great and only going to get better.
Is it a good time to try it out?
Absolutely. Gmail's changed a lot since Inbox was first released and is now more polished and feature-rich than ever before.
Reasons to use Gmail
- It's free
- Very fast and smooth
- Smart Replies + Smart Compose
- Customizable swipes
- Schedule emails
- Undo sent emails
Reasons not to use it
- Fewer categories/bundles than Inbox
- Can't see reminders
Google's building Gmail into a version of Inbox that'll be around for years to come
When Google released Inbox a few years back, many users flocked to it because it offered a considerably better experience on both mobile and desktop compared to Gmail. Since then, a lot has changed.
With Gmail, you can now snooze emails, use Smart Replies + Smart Compose to have AI help you compose your thoughts, customize your swipe actions, schedule your emails to be sent at a date in the future, and view your emails in three pre-made bundles. Those bundles are what really sold Inbox for a lot of people, and while Gmail's Social and Promotions bundles aren't quite as extensive as what Inbox offers, they still do a good job at helping your inbox feel a bit less cluttered.
Google's slowly bringing Inbox's best features to Gmail one at a time.
Whether you use Gmail on your desktop or Android phone, it's visually a lot more appealing than when Inbox was released. Gmail for web and its Android app both match Google's Material Theme UI, including a dark mode for the former with the latter expected to get one very soon.
Other niceties include rich notifications on Wear OS, integration with the Google Assistant, and — as always — Gmail is 100% free to use.
Lastly, there's something to be said about the stability of Gmail going forward. While Google's been known to launch and kill off services fairly often as we've seen with Inbox, Gmail's been around since 2004 and is one of the most popular email clients in the world. In other words, it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
There are lots of other email apps that try to replicate Inbox's formula, but with small, third-party clients, there's no telling how long they'll be around for.
Alternatives to Gmail
Despite all of the progress Google's made with Gmail, we understand that it still won't be a good fit for everyone. As such, we've outlined a few other options that are worth checking out.
Clean UI and a built-in calendar make this a great pick.
Another good alternative to Inbox is Microsoft Outlook. Outlook is a very pretty app that runs smoothly, keeps you focused on the emails that matter, and even view your calendar. In addition to Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and Outlook.com, the app also supports Gmail and Yahoo Mail accounts.
If Gmail doesn't offer enough to tickle your fancy, Microsoft Outlook might do the trick. The Focused inbox filters out non-priority messages, things like flight info and files are easy to find, and we love having a built-in calendar to quickly view any upcoming appointments without having to leave the app. Outlook is probably the best choice for users of Microsoft services, but we love that there's also support for Gmail and Yahoo Mail users, too.
This popular iOS app is now available for Android.
Spark has been one of the best iOS email apps for a few years now, and as of April 2, 2019, it's finally available for Android. Spark does a lot to stand out, including a Smart Inbox feature that bundles your emails into various categories similar to Inbox. There's also a snooze feature, you can schedule emails, and much more.
Spark Mail is the newest app on this list, but for some people, it may also be the best. Spark takes a lot of inspiration from Inbox with its Smart Inbox feature, making it easy to find the emails you really care about and sift through all of the garbage. Not everything from the iOS app is available quite yet, but developer Readdle is working on achieving feature parity ASAP.
The best client for those willing to pay.
Newton has been my personal email app of choice since 2017. The app is stunning on both desktop and mobile, read receipts allow you to see when people read your emails, and you can schedule and snooze emails to your heart's content. The catch? It costs $50 per year to use.
The thought of spending money for an email app when there are so many awesome free ones may seem bonkers to a lot of people, but after using Newton for the past two years, I find it really hard to go back to anything else. The feature set is one of the best out there, the app's intuitive and easy to use, and it works on practically everything. $50/year is a lot of money, but if you rely on email for work like I do, it's more than worth it.
Lots to love
A promising client with lots of powerful tools.
Edison Email doesn't have the backing of Google or Microsoft, but even so, it's still a really great client that's worth a look. Edison works with all popular email services, has a powerful tool for unsubscribing from newsletters, a built-in package tracker, and a ton more.
If you want a powerful email app that's pretty and feature-rich, Edison may be the perfect fit. There's a feature that makes it easy to unsubscribe from emails, a dedicated travel page so you can easily see flight & hotel info, and even a package tracker! Edison works with just about everything, too, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Exchange, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL Mail, IMAP, Alto, iCloud, and many more.
There are a lot of cool, experimental features in our above picks, but if you want an email client that works well, is super stable, and still offers some powerful tools, Gmail is the way to go for most people.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Joe Maring is Android Central's News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
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