‘Inbox’ wants to fix email, but can it?

Nate Swanner - Jul 8, 2014, 5:50 pm CDT
‘Inbox’ wants to fix email, but can it?

There’s one truth in life — email sucks. The painful process of organizing and cleaning up your inbox daily can be cumbersome, and hanging onto emails for later response often proves annoying. A new email platform called Inbox wants to change email at its core, but is that necessary?

Inbox isn’t a new app — or even an app at all. It’s an email platform, giving Developers things like APIs to toy with in making email more intuitive and better to use. It works with existing providers, like Gmail, letting Developers make filters or unique attachment methods. Open source, Inbox wants to be the new email platform for anyone, everywhere.

It might sound trite — attempting to forge a new email path — but it’s actually a timely solution. At I/O, Google announced their own new API for Gmail, noting their IMAP standard was dated, and didn’t allow for the “cool things” Developers want email to do. Aside from some speed improvements, Google says their new API will allow for send-only permissions in apps, letting Developers choose what they want, when they want.


It’s a new angle on email, but doesn’t solve all the issues. There are plenty of great email apps like Cloud Magic, which take unique advantage of their own platforms to make email simpler and easier to use. In the case of Cloud Magic, clever things like ‘Cards’ are done via their own platform. Saving files is easier, and options like delaying an email for later are also present.

So, is changing email necessary? That’s hard to say, but it can’t hurt to give Developers options. If a program as robust as Gmail says it’s time to change paths, it might be a sign that the tired email system is in need of a refresh, but what can be done? If filters and APIS that allow for apps to pick and choose what they do is all that is on the horizon, email might be better off as-is.


Inbox says “Our company mission is to build elegant products for large complex systems”. Google ends their blog post with “we can’t wait to see what you build.” For a system that is 30 years old and used daily, email sure sounds broken.

Apps like Cloud Magic or Mailbox have a lot of great functionality, and to think there could be more is exciting, and what that could be is anyone’s guess. The small issues we seem to have with email have been fixed to a large extent — we can set an email to check back later, or even save files as we like, where we like. If an API is somehow going to change email from the inside out, that would surprise most users. For now, the clever dressing that are apps is good enough.

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