Anyone else sorely miss Inbox? I still do, and it’s been years since Google put it in the graveyard. As a matter of fact, I had to look, but it’s been a staggering 3 years since Inbox was officially cancelled, and I can say I’ve despised Google’s decision every day since. Inbox was simply a better way to do email and I’m far from the only one who thought so. I won’t go back over my thoughts on all Inbox brought to the table – you can read this post if you’d like a refresher – and I won’t get into why I think Google failed in capturing the best parts of Inbox to bring to Gmail’s last redesign.
Instead, I want to highlight a non-Googler who made an extension that I’ve relied on for years at this point and happily exclaim that this same Chrome extension will soon be resurrecting my absolute favorite part of Inbox very soon: bundles. Simplify Gmail is a brilliant plugin by the same guy who created Inbox to begin with, and it did a lot for me in the very tough transition from Inbox back to the standard, cluttered, ugly, and unproductive Gmail interface. Again, I’ve written at-length about Simplify Gmail and even without this new, upcoming feature, I think everyone should give this extension a try. But with bundles on the way, you really need to be paying attention now.
Bundles from Inbox for Gmail
I’m going to quote one of my favorite writers talking about bundles, why they were so transformative, and why I’m so very glad that they will be returning to my Gmail inbox in the coming weeks.
With Inbox’s Bundles, this is handled quite differently. With Inbox, if I tell a folder/label I’d like it “bundled” in the Inbox, any message that hits that folder gets sent to my inbox with all its other labeled messages. So, instead of dropping a single email out of context into my inbox, I see the folder/label and all the messages with it. Upon archiving it, I’ll see that whole bundle again in my inbox when a response comes. And, if I want to keep that bundle in my inbox, I can leave it as long as I like and then archive it just like a message when I’m ready to pack it away.
This simple change revolutionized my workflow. I used to be a little worried to archive things until they were tucked away and dealt with, leaving my Gmail inbox bloated and full of dangling tasks all the time. With Inbox, I put the message into a bundle, hit done (“archive” in Gmail) and forget about it until the reply I need comes in.– Robby Payne
Bundles are quite literally the best part of Inbox that Google said they were going to keep and never actually delivered. They enable quick batching of emails, a better response pattern, and a cleaner look at what is actually going on in the context of an email conversation. There has been no way to get this sort of productivity out of Gmail since Google left Inbox in the dust, and now it looks like that is finally getting ready to change thanks to Simplify Gmail.
In a huge piece featured on Fast Company, Simplify Gmail got the wider recognition it deserves and they took the opportunity to share a bit about the upcoming bundles feature that will hit Simplify Gmail early in 2022. Later this month you can give it a go via the Simplify Gmail Canary extension that – as the name implies – gets you features way earlier than most. These features will be experimental and won’t always work, but that’s life on the bleeding edge.
Michael Leggett, the Simplify Gmail extension creator, provided Fast Company with a video of the new bundles feature in action and let them know that this isn’t an attempt to recreate Inbox exactly as it was. This isn’t a backwards-looking attempt at bringing Inbox back in a Gmail container. Instead, this is the creator of one of the most-loved email clients rolling up his sleeves and bringing the parts of that client that made it special over to Gmail. And I’m so excited for it.
I’m not trying to recreate Inbox exactly as it was. I’m taking those theories and thoughts and design ideas and best applying them to Gmail in the context that is Gmail today. The dream is that Google eventually adds some of this itself, and I can take away features. That would be a real win.Michael Leggett via Fast Company
According to Fast Company, Leggett is also planning on bringing the integration of Google’s handy reminders back to Gmail as well. This was an oft-overlooked benefit of using Inbox over Gmail. It allowed you to see and create Google’s multi-platform reminders right in your inbox. With reminders being able to be accessed and created via Google Calendar, Google Assistant, and on the web, Inbox gave you a better place to see and interact with those quick-thought tasks. Though not as formative as Inbox’s bundles, I do miss seeing my reminders in my email from time to time as well. Hopefully as Leggett continues moving forward with Simplify Gmail, most of Inbox’s fantastic productivity enhancements will be readily available again for those of us that loved them.