In case you missed it, three members of the team responsible for Inbox by Gmail including Vijay U, Jason C, and Taylor K (Product Manager, Designer, and Software Engineer respectively) answered questions in a Reddit AMA thread today.
Those who want to get a full look at the entire thread can click through the source link below, but in the interest of saving you some time, we've looked through the team's responses to gather up answers to the more popular questions.
In general, the Inbox team expressed interest in eventually bringing many of Gmail's existing features to Inbox, with some either under discussion or already in active development.
The top question in the thread is one that I've personally been wondering about since Inbox launched - when will Google Apps users be able to handle their email through Google's nascent service? Vijay had the following to say.
Supporting these accounts comes with other demands and we're working hard on addressing them so we can get Inbox to Google Apps users.
We were pleasantly surprised to see how open-minded Inbox users are to making big changes to their work email workflow, and the high demand for Inbox on Google Apps accounts has already caused us to speed up our efforts to bring Inbox to all of you. Hang tight!
Implicitly, those demands are due to the fact that Apps accounts are paid, so things like reliability, up-time, and a lack of bugs are particularly important. Since Inbox is still technically in its beta phase, the exclusion of (eager) Apps users is somewhat understandable.
Vijay also indicated that smarter Snooze defaults and personalization are being explored, and things like cross-browser support (a deal-breaker for non-Chrome users) and "undo send" (from Gmail) are being worked on but simply weren't ready in time for launch.
Speaking of borrowing functionality from Gmail, there have been questions about how Gmail power users can adapt to Inbox, and Vijay U explains that while it's a bit different, labeling systems can be translated into bundles, with the added benefit of being able to "throttle" bundles to only appear occasionally. As for multi-labeling using bundles? Lead Designer Jason Cornwell explains that this was experimented with while Inbox was in development, but that it "just doesn't work very well," noting that bundles are ultimately more powerful than labels.
Another big question mark since Inbox's launch has been its ultimate destiny in relation to Gmail. Many have speculated that perhaps Inbox would replace or merge with Gmail at some point in the future, but the Inbox team isn't so sure. To start with, Jason Cornwell explains that Inbox is a "step back" for Google, taking a new look at how email works today, rather than looking at how to "fix" Gmail's current implementation. "We build Inbox as a separate product," Cornwell explains, "because we didn't feel like we could solve those problems by just adding more features on to Gmail."
As for an ultimate merging of the two products? Cornwell says, "In the short term, no. In the very long term, we hope so." So Gmail and Inbox coming together isn't certain, but it isn't off the table either.
There's also the sticky question of the similarity in functionality between Inbox and Mailbox. Cornwell explains it thusly:
Inbox was in development well before Mailbox launched. Both apps share a similar basic philosophy that your Inbox is really a to-do list. Both apps allow users to snooze messages, which is a great feature that has been available in Gmail via various 3rd party extensions for years. That’s really where the similarities end. Inbox takes a lot of the work out of managing your life by automatically grouping related messages into bundles and by pulling out the information that matters most into highlights. Inbox allows you to create your own reminders, which really allows it to function as a true to-do list that reflects your own priorities, and offers assists to help you get things done. Inbox goes a lot farther into personal assistant territory and helps you stay on top of the things that matter. We see Inbox as a tool for managing your life, not just your mail. That’s the biggest difference.
Disclaimer: I’m a developer on the web client and not the Android app.
The Material Design guidelines were still under development while many recent apps were being designed. We expect to resolve consistency issues in upcoming releases.
So, as some Googlers have already stated, there is still hope for consistency among Google's in-house apps. As we said when we initially took an early look at material design (back when we only knew it as Quantum), it was noted that Google wanted to hit the ground running with progressive updates, and it looks like the respective teams are still catching up.
Taylor K notes that the team is always open to feedback, encouraging users to use the option in the app's nav drawer, and says that ultimately the team wants Inbox to handle "all of the things you need to get back to in your life," with email as a starting point.
The team answered even more questions, including some on the more technical side, so if you want to get the full scoop, click through below.