Inbox by Gmail is officially going away on April 2. The information relayed by Google via the Inbox mobile app's loading/launch screen is now annoying all users every time they open the app, reminding them that the service will shut down in 15 days, i.e. on April 2, and incidentally, this is the same date on which the Google+ social network is expected to meet its demise as well.
Moving focus – and Inbox features - to Gmail
On the positive side of things, while Inbox will be missed by many users, several Inbox features have already been ported over to the Gmail client. As detailed by Google in the “Move from Inbox to Gmail” official support page, Gmail now offers the option to snooze emails and the client can offer so-called “nudges” by occasionally moving older emails to the top of the inbox.
Smart Reply is also a Gmail feature now, giving users access to suggested phrases when composing emails. The Gmail client for PC also gives access to commands such as archiving, deleting, marking as “read,” and snoozing emails via a quick action bar which becomes visible when hovering the mouse cursor over an email without having to open it.
The Inbox legacy and what will come next
Inbox by Gmail won over a lot of users since it was originally released in October 2014 on an invitation-only basis as a more experimental productivity-oriented email client. It continued to increase in popularity once it became widely available to the public in 2015 and many Android smartphone users have transitioned over to this particular solution and abandoned the Gmail client altogether.
It was last September when Google broke the news and revealed its plans for shutting down the application in March 2019. The more recent informal announcement via the mobile Inbox app confirms that the process is more or less advancing according to plan.
The closing of Inbox by Gmail isn’t entirely a surprise considering it came to be as an offshoot of Gmail (as denoted by the name itself) and given Google’s ability to shut down projects whenever they’ve met their purpose or can no longer do so. But arguably, given the popularity of Inbox, some users may have hoped that Google will favor this service over Gmail and the OEM would sacrifice the latter when the time of choosing would arrive.
As to what will come next, Google will now have only one email client to worry about and by focusing on a single solution instead of two, there is the possibility that Gmail will begin to improve and gain more features at an accelerated pace. Google will likely leverage its expertise acquired from developing Inbox over the past four and a half years to do so. This could mean that other Inbox-specific features could be implemented into the Gmail client in one way or another, later down the line.
One of these features could be “bundles” or what is known as the client’s ability to automatically group emails that seem related to one another into specific categories. Something similar can already be achieved in Gmail by manually customizing inbox tabs and notifications, and by filtering emails via custom labels, but a more dedicated and polished “bundles” feature could eventually be released for Gmail too.