Inbox by Gmail will be shutting down today – April 2 – leaving Gmail as the only viable email client for many users. Features will be missed, but as far as the design of Inbox is concerned, Chrome desktop users can get now the look of Inbox in Gmail by installing a Chrome extension simply named “Inbox Theme for Gmail.” As already noted by some users, the extension doesn’t bring any Inbox functionalities to Gmail and instead, it aims to make Gmail look more like the soon-to-be-defunct client (or now-defunct, depending on when you might be reading this.)
Looking good but it’s not quite there yet
The theme for Gmail looks very much like Inbox. It has the appropriate color scheme, the “Gmail” logo has been replaced by “Inbox” and the “Compose” button which usually resides in the upper-left corner in Gmail has been reshaped into a blue “+” button and relocated to the lower-right corner of the screen.
But the extension is not perfect and does seem to break at least one Gmail feature, specifically the ability to undo the sending of an email. This feature gives users a short time window in which they can un-send an email, and although the pop-up exists in Gmail running the Inbox Theme, the “Undo” button doesn’t seem to be working at all. The issue was reported back in February by a user and after we’ve tested the extension we can confirm that it still exists.
Improvements will be made
As of this writing, Inbox Theme for Gmail is a Chrome browser extension but the developers aim to make it available for other browsers as well, including Mozilla Firefox and Safari. It’s unclear which of these browsers will be next to receive the extension as the developers are now asking Chrome users to vote their favorite choice.
But aside from ironing out existing flaws and expanding the extension’s availability onto other browsers, there’s little chance for some of the beloved Inbox features to be added to the extension in the future. After all, this is a theme and its primary function is to change the overall design of Gmail, not to implement new features to Google’s remaining email client.
The king is dead, long live the king!
Publicly launched in 2015, Inbox is now going away for good and the reason for its demise might lie in a lack of users, even though those who did use Inbox have been sold entirely on its productivity-oriented approach.
But even though Inbox is shutting down, Google confirmed its intentions to bring some of Inbox’ features over to Gmail, and to a degree, this has already been achieved. As far as Gmail for Android is concerned, Google celebrated the email client’s 15th anniversary yesterday by introducing new features to the mobile application.
The changelog to the latest Gmail mobile app version included Smart Compose with “smarter” suggestions and support for additional languages. In addition, Gmail for Android now allows users to schedule emails and perform actions such as booking reservations directly from the app. It’s still not equal to Inbox in the eyes of many users, but with only one email client to worry about Google is likely to continue and improve Gmail at a steady pace for both desktop and mobile. Until more Inbox-like features will be added, desktop users are free to experiment with the extension at hand and the existing Gmail features to try and mirror the Inbox experience as best as they can.