While much of the tech world was focused on today’s Apple event, Google dumped the news that it is killing another product. This time on the chopping block is Google’s other email client, Google Inbox. Google announced today that its trailblazing, experimental email client will be shut down “at the end of March 2019.”
Inbox launched in 2014 as an experimental alternative interface to Gmail. Inbox used the same account and showed the same data, just in a special interface that totally rethought email management. Inbox would automatically group emails into helpful categories like “Updates” for shipping notifications and “Purchases” for receipts. Instead of dealing with an email right away, you could snooze it, just like an alarm. If an email was really important, you could pin it to the top of your inbox. After reading an email, you didn’t delete or archive it, you just marked it “Done.” Eventually Inbox got “Smart Reply,” which used machine learning to write short replies for you.
Google says that it “learned a lot about how to make email better” from Inbox, and now with the “popular Inbox experiences” ported over to Gmail, the company wants to “focus solely on Gmail.” Gmail did gain a few features from Inbox. Mail categories in Inbox do roughly the same sorting and organizing that Inbox did, just in a tabbed interface instead of the “bundles” introduced in Inbox. Snooze made the jump to Gmail with the big redesign. Smart Reply is now all over google products, and besides existing in Gmail, it’s part of Wear OS and Android P. A new feature in Google’s ML Kit APIs will soon allow any developer to put smart replies in their app.
Inbox users have six months before Google shuts down their favorite email app. Google has prepared a transition guide designed to guide users back to Gmail.