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It sure looks like Google is about to kill Inbox [Update]

Updated September 12, 2018: Welp. They did it. Google's killed Inbox. Inbox will be laid to rest in March 2019, and in its place, the company's hoping people switch over to Gmail instead. This isn't really surprising considering the overlap in features we've seen between the two apps over the last few months, but even so, it's still sad to see that the light is finally coming at the end of the tunnel for Inbox. RIP 💔

It has been almost exactly three years since Google made its new email client available to the whole world.

Inbox by Gmail was sold as a "completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters," and while I think this mission was a huge success, the client never really caught on the way Gmail itself did. Fast forward to today, Inbox has become stagnant and Gmail is being regularly updated to compete with modern email clients. In fact, with the recent revelation of an upcoming new Gmail design, including several features straight from Inbox, it's not difficult to imagine this once futuristic-feeling email client being sunset before too long.

The big thing that sets Inbox apart from other email clients is automation. Inbox automatically sorts your email into themed piles, so you can sift through them as you see fit or archive whole stacks with a swipe. You can snooze emails, too, so they disappear from your main feed and arrive, magically, when and where you want them. That feature, which largely sets Inbox apart from Gmail, is now coming to Google's primary email client. And that's good because it's incredibly useful worth having everywhere. But seeing it come to Gmail caused me to look at what else sets Inbox apart, and that list is quite slim these days.

Google has been working on things like smart replies and several other features for Inbox and Gmail at the same time, but if you look at the Gmail blog, the last time Inbox got a solo update was way back in August, 2016. There's been little momentum since then, something iPhone users have found especially frustrating as the iOS Inbox app is one of the few remaining Google apps without iPhone X support. Any way you look at it, the Inbox experience has been largely unchanged for quite some time now.

The biggest reason this frustrates me as an Inbox user is how it aligns with Google's overall trend of focusing on automation products. The AI-powered revolution, the "Personal Google" experience powered by machine learning, is the kind of thing I expected would make Inbox even more capable over time. In reality, Inbox doesn't feel any smarter to me now than it did two years ago. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since I already enjoy it for what it is, but it seemed likely that Google would sink some resources into making its predictive, intelligent email system a big part of its machine learning future. Instead, it feels more like successful parts of Inbox are being woven into Gmail.

Its possible Google will never fully "sunset" Inbox, as it is mostly just a different front-end for the existing Gmail platform. Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the future of Inbox.

Soon enough, no doubt at Google I/O in less than a month, we'll likely all have access to this new Gmail and everyone will be able to enjoy most of the things that make Inbox cool. But for now, I'm not quite ready to give up on an email system that pre-sorts my messages so I never have to look at a giant list of emails ever again.

Boost your Gmail productivity with these tips and tricks

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

113 Comments
  • HELL NO! I really don't want Inbox to go way. Have been using it for so long and I have rarely used the GMail client and have even deleted it from my phone. Inbox's organization and it's blue theme just feels right and perfect for an EMail client. I really, really, don't want it to go away since it's the only EMail client I use.
  • What's the big deal if all features come to Gmail?
  • Nothing major unless all my personalization is lost. I have spend countless hours getting Inbox to work how I want. I don't want to reinvent the wheel in GMail.
  • Well, all of your setup is available in Inbox if you set gmail in the right mode. Check it out. All your labels are there.
  • Inbox is light years ahead of Gmail. Inbox is extremely organized even if you don't create special folders or whatever. It organizes the most important I can pun things for later which I love. Just the way inbox works is a lot better. Gmail is garbage.
  • That's why I love inbox.
  • Then they should include postponing emails like in Inbox and include reminder integration
  • Umm... they have already. Month' ago. That was the point when I (and Androidcentral) knew the end is near for Inbox.
  • Inbox is way better. All I use is inbox unless it's for certain emails that are not supported.
  • It's mostly not about the features, but the way inbox bundled e-mails.
  • My sentiments exactly. I like the one click delete of mass email newsletters etc and pinning emails I want to keep visible. I prefer Inbox over Gmail every day of the week.
  • Say it isn't so. As long as I have the option to go to a classic view or "inbox" view in Gmail I will be good. Was inbox ever technically out of beta though?
  • I started using Inbox shortly after it became available for GSuite accounts (or whatever they were called back then), and I used it straight up until last week, oddly enough. Last week I realized how annoyed I was that Inbox was starting to feel stagnant. My biggest problem at the time was the composer was still lacking features that Gmail had before Inbox was thing. Then when I started loading up normal Gmail account to see if I'd be comfortable switching back I realized other stuff. I had to click at least 2-3 more times in Inbox versus the same action in Gmail. It's slower, both in the UI and in actually displaying new mail when I'm already in my inbox. The bundling feature was always a tiny bit hit or miss, some stuff that should be automatically bundled wasn't. After a couple years with Inbox I finally had enough, switched back to Gmail, saw the Gmail redux is coming soon, and now this? Guess I jumped ship at the right time.
  • Stagnant isn't bad when it is still the best email experience. I don't think there are many changes/improvements that Google can make to it. AI isn't going to create design changes. It seems that maybe shifting AI over to all the users in Gmail, maybe there will be some additional improvements that AI will do with all that information. Like Photos, Inbox is still the best email client in my opinion. Just because it hasn't improved much over the last year, doesn't make it less useful to me. I wish Google would bring this AI/Machine Learning to Drive. They could totally do it, and it would be great. Imagine if you could organize your PC/Mac with downloading the drive app. Talk about a takeover.
  • I prefer inbox and have disabled gmail app on mg phone!!
  • I did the same
  • Me too, I like Inbox better
  • At this point they're just making changes for the sake of making changes. They don't know the meaning of the phrase if it ain't broke don't fix it
  • Welcome to Google products! If it ain't broke, over engineer it til it is, then release 3 competing products/services that also don't quite work right, then scrap them all!
  • Lol, so true.
  • Google, where an absolutely mind-boggling user experience has somehow become part of the charm.
  • I always forget Gmail is a thing. I've been on inbox from the beginning and think about it AS Gmail
  • They haven't updated inbox app to iPhone X full screen. One of the very few Google apps that's not been updated. So won't be surprised if they sunset inbox. Personally, use Inbox and love it, especially the snooze feature which has made email triaging so easy. Since that's coming to main Gmail I won't miss Inbox as much.
  • Exactly. As long as the "treat messages as tasks" concept is ported over, I think this is a net positive. Edit: I'd love for the automatic trip aggregation to stay, too. For heavy travelers, that's really handy.
  • Oh yeah that too. Trip bundling is handy.
  • Guys, I can't believe so many people don't know it.
    Gmail got this feature month' ago.
    I used Inbox from day 1 and switched back as soon as Gmail got the snooze feature. I always missed dome features in Inbox. You can now even switch Gmail to behave like inbox. There is no need for an Inbox app any longer imho. It's all in Gmail now. For month' (I know I repeat myself, but ...)
  • Typical Google. I was hoping coming from Windows Phone/Services that I could rely on Google to support their services. Feels like I'm back in the MS ecosystem of services being discontinued constantly.
  • God i miss Windows phone
  • I miss 8 tracks
  • I miss two cups connected with a string.
  • Inbox is just a front end to G-Mail. The G-Mail service is here to stay. It's just that Google having two apps for one service will become one app soon.
  • Exactly, no big deal
  • Yeah. Inbox is to Gmail as an alternative launcher is to Android.
  • What are you talking about? Google is fully supporting their core services. Gmail isn't going anywhere. Inbox is, and always has been, a non-core, or experimental front end for interacting with Gmail, which again is not going anywhere. Inbox itself has never been indicated as being a core service that will get long term support. With Gmail's redesign, Inbox's features are being rolled into the core Gmail experience, so we don't have two separate apps doing the same thing (checking email). Isn't this what people have been getting onto Google for, multiple services doing the same thing? This should be welcomed if you listen to the typical "why does Google have 3 chat clients", etc comments.
  • I used inbox for two full weeks when it launched, and hated it. I pretty much forgot it existed until this article.
  • The mobile app is great, and handier than the Gmail app from my experience. Gmail is still a better desktop experience, I think.
  • It was the Android app I used, I honestly can't remember the last time I logged into my email from a PC. We're talking years.
  • Same. I've always kept Gmail organized anyway, so all the automation never appealed to me.
  • They could keep inbox and kill the Gmail app. I'd be good with that.
  • It's a Google app. OF COURSE IT'S GOING TO BE ABANDONED!!! If you choose to go with an app from Google, you can't get upset when it goes away, at this point. The history is glaringly obvious and you shouldn't expect different at this point.
  • I was an early convert to Inbox, and have used it pretty consistently, but there's one thing I always have to go back to in Gmail (at least, on my phone). I'm unable to print from Inbox. Don't know why that was never an option, but if I want to print an email, I have to open Gmail. So if they move most of the features I like to Gmail, I'm ok with Inbox being dropped.
  • Click the 3 dots on the top right of an email. Print is the 3rd option after reply and forward.
  • I only see reply and forward from the mobile app. No third choice.
  • Gmail and Inbox are still VERY different apps. Gmail doesn't have message pinning, a quick way to clear all messages from a category except for pinned ones, etc. Also, doesn't Gmail have ads in it?
  • Yeah the ads are the biggest reason I use the inbox over Gmail app
  • I much rather have Inbox than Gmail! I only Inbox I would hate have to go back to an archaic system as Gmail.
  • That's all good but what is Google going to do with Allo???
  • "What's Allo?"
    - Google devs
  • I use Inbox and GMail, both. I like the idea of automated sorting of my emails, but I've never trusted Inbox to sort the way I want. It's too hard to get rid of things that Inbox decides is "priority" and get what I want labeled as priority. I usually end up scanning the All Mail label in Gmail to make sure I haven't missed anything that Inbox might have failed to put front and center.
  • I've been using Gmail for work (Gsuite acct) along and Inbox for personal (Gmail) account for almost 3 yrs. I too heavily use the snooze feature. As long as features are retained, I'd be fine with Inbox going away, except that I enjoy having separate apps for work and personal emails. Is the Gmail account switching, esp. when clicking on notifications, intuitive enough for my use cases?
  • This x1000. Gsuite for work in Gmail app, personal account in Inbox means I get different notifications for work and personal and it's glorious. Losing this would be a disaster to my current work flow, especially distinguishing 9-5 from nights and weekends.
  • Exactly what I do. I love having then separate.
  • You can tune Gmail to notify you differently from different sources and much more.
    Also there ist a way to get a "different inbox folder" for different accounts if you want to separate them completely.
    Gmail has a ton of options. Maybe that's the reason people don't see them :)
  • I switched to inbox and never looked back. If gmail turns into inbox then I have no problem switching back again.
  • Email used to be a simple affair, I do not understand why companies like Google have to make things complex. All that is needed for email is a way to send and receive, maybe with attachments and some way to filter and that is it. i use thunderbird and have a domain from a company that provides me with a email service, simple and quick and I do not get Google, yahoo, microsoft or any other of these free providers mucking around with my email.
  • #OldManYellsAtClouds
  • It makes sense. Inbox is like the forgotten stepchild that's only there to confuse users. It's about time they streamline things.
  • see that's what I thought about Gmail. Inbox was the future and if they incorporate the good parts of inbox into Gmail then I won't complain.
  • Well this ******* sucks. I love Inbox and can't stand the regular Gmail experience. If they add grouping and trip aggregation I guess I'd be ok with switching back. Inbox works so well for me though that it's amazing Google would think of abandoning it. Hell just rename it Gmail and keep the actual app and I'd be fine with it. Bummer for sure
  • Am I the only one who doesn't care about Google inbox going away? It doesn't add anything to Gmail anyway, and when are Google going to add a mark as read option for emails? Even Apple has mark as read on its email client on iOS, as much as I love Google and it's service but I've never really liked G-mail and my biggest issue with it is the lack of an option to mark as read with only options to Dele and archive emails.
  • Inbox actually has the exact features you just asked for from Gmail. You can mark emails as read (or done) so that they're out of the way while still being accessible if you need them later. My guess is that those features will be moved over to Gmail at some point soon if Google really is going to phase out Inbox at some point.
  • It wouldn't surprise me at all. Google's history is filled with dead ends. It never mattered if a platform was successful or not, it was all just whims. For some reason they killed Hangouts which was a very good attempt at a chat client. All it missed was end to end encryption. Now for some reason they have Allo which no one uses. So it's very likely that Inbox will go the way of the dodo. Or Hangouts, in this case.
  • It's been a long time since I last tried inbox, bit I kept coming back to gmail for at least two reasons: It was a pain of not almost impossible to assign a message to more than one label. I could try and set up rules, but in Gmail illnoften categorize message with multiple labels. Inbox seemed to only easily let me choose one. Gmail has a 'auto resize images' option that let's me fix screwed up images in some messages that are out of proportion. Inbox didn't have that. It didn't happen often, but enough that it annoyed me to the point of going back. I did like the snooze feature of inbox a lot.
  • I use both the GMail and Inbox app. GMail for my work's G-Suite account and Inbox for personal email. I wish the notification icons for GMail looked more distinct when using multiple accounts.
  • They should just merge the two apps. No need to have multiple apps that do the same thing (Hangouts/Allo/Duo, Gmail/Inbox). At least Google doesn't have multiple map apps.
  • They actually do they have Waze and Google maps
  • And Google Earth.
  • Used Inbox since day one. I like it and will continue to use until I cant....
  • Good news nigros!
  • Inbox is the only email client I use. Gmail feels old fashioned at this point.
  • i hope thay want do it. For me inbox is perfect, all in one place, much bether than gmail., whot else to say, google is making so many ., unnecessary aps, but this one is realy usable.
  • Cool. Inbox sucks
  • Believe I got a beta invite for inbox from the forums
    Haven't used anything since. Dislike Gmail after the first week of using inbox. I didn't like the change at first, but please tell me there will be an inbox view of Gmail...
  • Inbox is like a RPN calculator. Strange at first, but after getting used to it you wonder why anyone would do things any other way.
  • In other news, water is wet. Typical Google.
  • If Google kills Inbox, I will respond by killing my Gmail account and going all in on my Outlook.com mail account. I've grown so sick of Google in recent years. This would leave only Maps that I use (infrequently at that), since I have transitioned completely away from Chrome and search already...
  • I don't think it's going anywhere. It's super integrated with reminders. They'd have to separate that, which is possible, but I don't see that happening. I use it daily for the reminders alone.
  • I'm too dependent on reminders myself.
  • I have been a user of Inbox since it was released. I like its intelligent sorting and it's really helped me get my mail under control. There are things missing from Inbox though that get me going back to Gmail on occasion. Every couple of weeks I have a debate with myself as to whether to stay with Inbox or go back to Gmail The biggest thing is the ability to send an email to a group. I keep expecting it to get added, and it never is. I had lost track though and didn't realize it's been 2 years since it's really been upgraded.
  • Snooze feature a must.....
  • Inbox is a fantastic email app. But it never took off for the same reason any other Google app that hasn't taken off, Google suck at marketing. They couldn't sell crack to a crackhead. They need outside help in the worst way. Google has to be the worst major corporation in history at marketing. If Google created a car that never broke down and never needed refueling, it would be last in sales.
  • If Google hasn't seen fit to update this for the iPhone X you can kiss this puppy goodbye, especially with notch support built into Android P.
  • Squirrel and google has changed their focus again, as usual.
  • I love Inbox. Since the annmocment of the Gmail update design, I started to use Gmail again. I found myself going back to inbox bc I felt overwhelmed with the long list of emails. I also heavily rely on the reminders feature and how it integrates into the google calendar. It is truely optimized workflow to use reminders that way. I am a little confused. Will this new Gmail design have bundling and reminders? Also, I am frustrated to see trips, purchase, finance, forums, and promo boxes go. Inbox helps cut on unesscary notifications. It always helps preserve my apple watch battery! Please let me know if this new design will have bundling and reminders!
  • I used Inbox for about a year, but switched back to Gmail. Inbox isn't bad, but Gmail seems to work better for me on filtering and composing emails.
  • I love inbox :(
  • I use Inbox all the time. I rarely use Gmail now.
  • Just hope this update let's me kill Conversation mode once and for all. I hate the current implementation.
  • To quote The Critic - "And nothing of value was lost."
  • It’s a good thing, it makes thing simpler. Unless they keep inbox updated with more advanced features, they should unify their email clients. Why criticize Google for having too many messaging apps on one hand and praising them for having 2 email clients? Or blame Samsung for putting duplicate apps on Android ?
  • For non-iPhone X users, “Does not support iPhone X” means, that the app works perfectly as expected, but instead of filling the top 1 centimeter of the screen (to the left and right of the notorious notch), it is simply black. I guess that’s what no support means in 2018. First world problems.
  • Typical. Take away something I've come to love and use on a daily basis.
  • NOOOOOOO!!!!! In their moving to Gmail Guide they say about reminders: "try using Google Tasks, Google Keep, and Gmail side by side." So, three things to do what Inbox did and did well in a single app, and that's only until they KILL Tasks or Keep. Just, wow... I've been using it since it was invite only. Great app, and the management features are top notch. Pinning, reminders, snooze, there are just so many quick and easy tools to keep my inbox clutter free that this news just sucks
  • NOoOOoo!!! I've tried going back to Gmail a few times and it just feels slow and outdated with too much clutter. Hope the new version is more Inbox than Gmail.
  • Much prefer inbox to Gmail's interface. Everytime I use Gmail it looks confusing as heck. Not clean not clear cut and I am presented with all of this email that I am not interested in at the moment. I only want to see what just came in not everything sitting there on one page. If they bring the clean look to Gmail and only show me new mail in each category on the first screen I would be pleased.
  • i never even heard of it, but then I do not use Google for email.
  • They're digging their own grave. Dropping so many projects for early adopters, when those people find it useful, will stop people from trying new things.
  • I've been using inbox since the invite. I love inbox because it helps me organize all my email.
  • Is there a way to make GMail work like Inbox?
  • Google is a corrupt shadow government.
  • I just started using Inbox since Gmail changed a ton of things around that made it hard to use. It's not like Gmail used to be but at least with Inbox I can see where and how many unread emails I have
  • Is inbox anything like BlackBerry Hub? Is there anything like BlackBerry that is more widely available?
  • I liked inbox for many of the sorting and organizing features, but one thing that annoyed me was the inability to create emails to send to contact groups. Also, while not about inbox or Gmail directly, I find the integration between contracts and the Google mail apps to be poor, and don't get me started on how contacts syncing never seems to work
  • Sob! Can you just stop with the BS for once Google 🤦‍♂️. I dumped Gmail completely about 3 months after using Inbox and haven't looked back. Unless I can make Gmail exactly like Inbox (including the Blue color) I'm pissed.
  • I hope they don't kill it
  • This has me down right angry at Google. First they kill off the save to inbox feature which was absolutely amazing! Then they're trying to get us to use this stupid tasks app that doesn't have a fraction of the functionality. It was fully integrated with reminders and keep and calendar. And the inbox app is the reason I switched from outlook.com back to using my old gmail account. Honestly this has me so angry right now might switch back to outlook.com at least that I get an ad-free experience for being an Office 365 customer.
  • Nothing new here. Just google being google i.e. releasing 3 products that do the same thing and then scrapping them all to troll and frustrate us end users.
  • *Everybody* Look at the awesome new Google thing that is sooo awesome! *Me two years later* laughs
  • What would be funny would be if Microsoft took the Inbox design and redesigned Outlook.com be more like Inbox. I wonder if that would attract people
  • I read the tea leaves and figured I should just rip the band-aid off and go with GMail. I couldn't do it. The mobile app is crap compared to Inbox. I'm giving the Outlook app a chance now. Initial feelings are positive...
  • Well, as soon as Gmail got the snooze feature, I switched back to Gmail. So many features more that I always wanted in Inbox.
    You can pretty much set up Gmail to behave like Inbox. The last thing I needed was that snooze of mails which is rad and makes your email kind of a to-do on steroids.
  • are there any alternatives? is anybody going to make a inbox themed ui for a mail client for gmail? i love inbox
  • I've gone back to Gmail, since losing Inbox now appears inevitable. While often I preferred the formatting of emails in Inbox, I realized that you can format your outgoing messages in Gmail (bold, italics, highlight, color, etc). That's a pretty nice feature I didn't know about. Having the snooze capacity is helpful as well.