At the launch of Android Lollipop, Google introduced the Material Design language. As Gmail is a widely used product is was really hard for google to do a complete new material design for Gmail. Instead they released a new alternative system called Google Inbox with a fraction of useful features compared to Gmail. As soon as Inbox was out, I started using it and used it till last week, which made me a user who used Google inbox for more than a year.
Google Inbox had some unique features of its own though, like snoozing emails, adding and showing up reminders within the inbox etc. I feel that the “Mark as done”, wasn’t something new. It is just the same as archiving emails in Gmail. But one of the most important thing upon which the Google inbox system built around was its philosophy of “Keeping a 0 (zero) mail inbox”.
My Experience with Google Inbox vs Gmail
As I said earlier that I had used Google Inbox since it was in beta till last week for more than a year, initially it was a bit hard for me to get my work done using Google Inbox due to its new design and abolishment of many useful features that Gmail has.
But I still kept using it just because of its new flat minimal material design. As time goes on, the list of irritation and disgust also kept increasing and at last I realized this is enough, let’s go back to the good old Gmail. So, here is my experience with Google Inbox vs Gmail and why I switched over to Gmail from Google Inbox.
The Zero Inbox Philosophy
Unfortunately, since day one, I was never a zero-inbox guy. Sometimes I like to keep some emails inside my inbox just because it reminds me to do something or I’m still thinking about it. But if it is not in my direct sight, it’s out of my mind. So, many times I keep some emails around, from which I might be expecting some reply or it has some other intangible value to me.
To be honest, after I initially started using Google Inbox, I gave the zero-inbox philosophy a try, unfortunately it wasn’t for me. So, over the time the size of inbox just keeps growing and growing and soon I realized that the more emails you have in your inbox (whether that is bundled or unbundled), the more time it would take to load Google Inbox page fully.
Sometimes when you load the Google Inbox page and maybe deletes a few emails thinking that they have been deleted; but when you refresh the page you will see that whatever operations you have made none has been reflected on the server, so you have to delete the same messages again.
This sluggishness of Google Inbox really made me angry every time it happens. Also, don’t think that it only happens once in a blue moon, it happens quite regularly, which is even more frustrating.
Honestly, I have never seen any kind of sluggishness issue in Gmail. No matter how many emails I have in my inbox, just go to Gmail, it will load in a fraction of seconds and you are ready to go. But things are quite different with Google Inbox.
No Mark as Read or Mark as Unread option
Another thing that quite bothered me in Google Inbox is that there is no “Mark as Read” and “Mark as Unread” option inside it, which I used extensively when I use to use Gmail. Then after coming to the Google Inbox ecosystem there was no way to unread a mail that you have already read.
In fact, to do this, you basically have to hop over to the Gmail and then mark that email as unread. Now I know many of you might be thinking why I didn’t take advantage of the Inbox’s snooze feature, to be honest actually I did. But in some cases, I preferred some read to be stayed as unread so that I can easily identify it later. Maybe it’s just me or maybe you have the same problem, let me know in the comments.
No download as ZIP options for multiple attachments
One thing I loved about Gmail was if you receive more than one attachments in one email, there is an option to download them all as ZIP instead of downloading individually. Now this was something wasn’t present in Google Inbox and trust me I missed it extensively.
Think of a scenario where you have received an email with 30 pictures in it or maybe more and you have download them manually one by one or just to download the images as ZIP, you have to open up Gmail again. Personally, it was a very bad experience for me and in many times, I found myself opening up Gmail just to download the attachments.
No detailed information about the sender
Another major thing that was missing in Google Inbox, was the ability to see in-depth detailed information about the sender from whom you have received the email, which is really handy many times to check the authenticity of the sender.
Inside Gmail, when you receive an email, you generally see a small down arrow at the top of the email and clicking on that it shows a bunch of information and the sender, the server he used to send it, if the email is encrypted or not, if it is then which server has been used to encrypt it etc.
Unfortunately, inside Google Inbox the only thing that you can see is the name of the server and the email address. That’s it and like always if you need more, open up Gmail. So, what’s the point of using Google Inbox if for most of the things I have to use Gmail?
Google Inbox doesn’t have as advanced filters & search as Gmail
Though Google Inbox basically uses filters to bundle your emails, but the filters aren’t as advanced as the ones your get inside Gmail. Also in Gmail, you can use these filter commands in the search box to do more advanced search. But inside Google Inbox you only get very basic search functionality to search your email with normal string comparison.
Inside Gmail, if you click on the small downward arrow at the end of the search box, you will see a bunch of options to do some advance level search and narrow down your result. This is something you can never do in Google Inbox.
In fact, the only similar thing you can do in Google Inbox is to create a bundle and then add the filters, but again you may have to break your filter query into several parts instead of passing a long complex filter.
Not so good android app like Gmail
I don’t know about the Google Inbox iOS app as I personally use android, but with the Google Inbox android app one problem I have faced frequently is that, it doesn’t give notifications to you as soon as you receive the emails.
In many cases you won’t even receive any email notifications at all unless you open up the Google Inbox app. I don’t know why it just doesn’t sync as well as Gmail app when the app is not in used.
I know some of you might me thinking well maybe it is because “unrestricted access” wasn’t enabled for Google Inbox app or maybe “battery optimization” was enabled for that app which made it stop working when it is in background.
But trust me, for the past year I’ve tried everything, digging into each setting and giving Google Inbox app the ultimate unrestricted access possible. But the problem doesn’t get resolved. Ultimately, I even twitted this to the Google Inbox team and they also seem to have no idea why this is happening.
On the other hand, when I enabled the Gmail app on my phone it just works like a charm without any special settings or digging. Every time I receive an email, it notifies me, sometimes even before than the website does.
Even more – no “check mail from” or “send mail as” options
Unlike Gmail, Google Inbox barely have any advanced settings options. Most of the advanced settings options like “check email from”, “send mail as” or even enabling pop or imap needs to be done from the Gmail’s settings page. It just feels like Google Inbox is some kind of bad skin over Gmail which doesn’t have even 70% power as Gmail.
There are many little things like these here and there if you look closely, but here I just mentioned the main points that I felt annoyed and made me to switch back to the good old Gmail instead of using the new kid in the block Google Inbox who is unfortunately not so new anymore. Lol 😂
Though Google Inbox has a much more modern flat minimal look to it, but when you consider the smooth user experience, fast response and advance features, there is no doubt that Gmail is a far better choice over Google Inbox, even though it doesn’t have that modern material design to it.
I personally think Google Inbox is good enough for casual email users who barely use email for anything serious that occasional emails. But anyone who does some serious emailing on daily basis, unless you are a “zero inbox philosophy” person (which you can also achieve in Gmail if you just archive your emails), I don’t see any strong reasons for using Google Inbox over Gmail.
Moreover, if you want to boost the features of Gmail even further you can use a small tool named Mixmax. I personally use it with my inbox and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone. It is such a nice tool for people who does some serious emailing on daily basis. You can also checkout my review on mixmax to know more about this tool.
So, do you guys use Gmail or Google Inbox as your email inbox? I would love to know your thoughts and experience on this matter. Let me know if you guys feel the same as me or different, in the comment section below. Let’s continue the conversation there.
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