Gmail, Now Your Email Personal Assistant

Emails are no longer merely a tool for communication between people. I don’t know about you, but my inbox is full of emails, both automated and purposefully typed, from a ton of different contacts, websites and even a few junk senders. From the company that brought you Priority Inbox, a feature that detects which emails are important and presents them upfront, comes a “new inbox that puts you back in control”.

Several weeks back, Google unveiled their new tabbed Gmail inbox. It frames itself as an easy way of separate different types of emails into multiple tabs. Let’s take a look at what it’s all about.

What’s Gmail’s New Inbox?

Gmail’s new inbox is all about keeping your content separate and organised, in what lives on as essentially a refined Priority Inbox. Emails are intelligently designated a specific tab in your inbox, under names like social and promotions, based on what they’re all about, allowing you to, say, get updates from all your social networks at once or just read the emails sent from real people you know.

Gmail's new inbox allows you to choose up to five tabs to segregate your messages.

Gmail’s new inbox allows you to choose up to five tabs to segregate your messages.

The process is somewhat customisable too. You can choose which categories you want to appear, from all five of the current options to none at all (even going as far as showing example senders specific to your inbox when selecting), and reorganising mesages between tabs is as simple as drag-and-drop. The concept around the new inbox is to do away with some of the common uses of email rules, the automation many people set up to identify emails based on certain criteria and do something, such as applying a label, automatically.

Introducing your new inbox.

Introducing your new inbox.

Gmail’s new default setup works over other designs like the aforementioned Priority Inbox, allowing you to choose an organisational means of your own preference. Don’t worry though; you can easily configure your inbox at any time, either to enable this style as soon as possible or revert it back to something a tad more conventional in the future.

Does It Work?

The key to any service like this is that it works. Having little reliability or consistency pretty much makes any organisational system useless, but that isn’t the case for Google’s efforts. Upon enabling the new inbox, my existing mail was instantly sorted into largely the correct tabs, with the likes of Twitter email notifications appearing in their proper place under the Social tab and Apple’s Fathers Day ad living under Promotions.

The right mail in the right place.

The right mail in the right place.

If an email does go the wrong way, you can simply drag it into the right tab and then choose to assign that particular sender permanently to that tab with a single click.

Final Thoughts

The new inbox is yet another innovative step forward for Google and most certainly a welcome one. It joins Priority Inbox to offer a suite of options for how to organise your inbox without a third-party client or any external tools, while offering a conventional layout so you have can have it however you want.

It’d be nice if you could setup your own tabs beyond the designated five with custom rules, but a focus on simplicity in conjunction with the older filtering systems offers an intuitive and innovative web app with little competition from rivals.

The new inbox is available for your account now through the Configure Inbox option in your Gmail settings, and translates to an equivalent experience in updated versions of the Gmail app for iOS and Android 4.0+, if either of those takes your fancy.


Add Yours
  • I have mixed feelings about the new inbox organiser. On the one hand it removes the need to create filters to handle newsletters, mailing lists, etc. On the other hand, you’re stuck with the categories that Google provides. Also, it was a bit of a pain waiting for the iOS app to be updated, because that prevented me from fully utilising the new feature.

    Overall, I think this is a good addition by Google, but I wish they would go further with this idea by better integrating the G+ Circles into GMail and allowing users to set importance, starring, etc. based on the sender’s relationship to you, for instance. And I would really appreciate it if they could also work on feature parity between the desktop and mobile versions of GMail. The inability to create new filters on incoming emails or create events from new messages on the mobile version of GMail is a real sticking point for me, as I would love to be able to use my iPad for all of my email activity and leave the computer free for other work.

  • My problem with Gmail is that the message threading is not intelligent. I can get a message from five different people and if the subject line says “Hi” it will lump all of those messages into the same thread. Very annoying.


    I`m on the jaystrab side:D

    He`s Right………it`s so annoying

  • Tabs will be lonely in my inbox. I only use gmail for youtube notifications and emails from the gmail team telling me my inbox has been updated. I give them nothing to scan for ads. I had to join google+ in order to comment on Mixcloud but thats it. I used to use google+ until one day I searched google for something and a comment i had made on google+ was the first result with my full name there. That ended that. Google is nice, but they are evil