Occasionally I come across a product that I don't understand after first use. I don't connect with it, and I don't see how it can benefit me. So I give up and uninstall it.
Sometime in the future the product enters my radar. A friend or person I respect describes a use case or feature that resonates with me. So I give the product a second chance. This manifests into a situation where I can't imagine a scenario where I'm not using the product. I become dependent on it. This happened with Evernote and Trello. And this week it happened with Inbox by Gmail.
Inbox by Gmail (or just Inbox) is Google's alternative email app to Gmail. Launched in October 2014, the app is designed to help you sift through email quickly, efficiently, and elegantly. It bundles like emails, dynamically generates canned responses, produces Google now type cards with useful information, and has a game changing super-smart snooze feature.
Inbox can help make your Inbox zero goal a reality.
When you first use Inbox you may feel uncomfortable. It may be the same unsettling feeling you had when you switched from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail (where did the folders go?!). This is because Inbox is forcing you to look at email differently. The premise is to address the emails you can now, and postpone (aka snooze) all others. Your inbox is no longer a never-ending "to-do" list. Answer or postpone. Move on.
The types of emails we receive today are quite different from the ones we received 10 years ago. The latter was comprised of emails from friends, an occasional newsletter, and a random chain email. Today our inboxes are filled with endless notifications and confirmations, newsletters, deals, and all kinds of announcements. Inbox was built for the modern email world. It's best feature is the speed at which you can process your email, but it has many other incredible features.
The snooze feature is my favorite. Left swiping an email brings up the generic Snooze window:
By snoozing an email you get to define when it will return to your Inbox. I dig the elusive "Someday" option. The "Pick place" is pretty powerful. Have a batch of work emails come in during your Sunday brunch? Snooze them to reappear when your at the office. Snooze is a brilliant feature and it gets even better.
Made a reservation at a restaurant and got a confirmation email? Snooze is smart enough to recognize this, and present you with an "Hour before reservation" option. Magic.
Got a shipping confirmation email? Snooze it to reappear on the Day of delivery:
Grouping is another great Inbox feature. I'm a big fan of Pocket. I receive their weekly "digest" email of top articles being shared on Pocket. Inbox creates a nice summary card by parsing the latest email from Pocket. I don't even need to open the email:
My favorite Grouping feature is under the Trip category. For my upcoming trip Inbox grouped all the trip emails together, and created an itinerary for me:
I can tap on each event in the itinerary and see details that include my reservation number, address, terminal, and gate. The convenience this provides is immeasurable. And I didn't have to do anything! Inbox does all the organizing.
I also dig the quick reply feature. I was on a thread with friends who are planning a weekend camping trip. Inbox presented me with some quick reply options if I weren't compelled to write a full response in the thread:
The quick replies are context aware, and adapt accordingly:
I've reached a point where I can't imagine using any other email application right now. Inbox is super convenient, fast, and fun to use! I highly recommend adding it to your arsenal!
Since moving to New York earlier this year I've been exposed to "problems" I didn't know existed while living in California. One is how to pass time in the cold dark place known as the subway. A place devoid of internet connectivity.
Common subway pastimes include reading eBooks, real books, offline content, playing games, or listening to podcasts/music. I prefer reading - either an eBook or articles from the web.
Since I don't have connectivity on the subway, I read articles that I've saved for offline reading. My favorite app for offline content is Pocket (iOS, Android). Pocket is an app where you can save articles, videos, and other web content for consumption later. Articles in Pocket are saved in a "minimalist" format that preserves text and images, but gets rids of all the unnecessary junk that surrounds a typical web article (banners, external links, etc.). The latest article I saved is "President Obama and Bill Simmons: The GQ Interview". Here it is on Pocket on my laptop:
Simple, clean, and easy-to-read.
I add content to Pocket in one of two ways. One method is the Save to Pocket chrome extension. This adds a small button to Chrome. Clicking this button anytime I'm viewing an article I'd like to read later will add it to Pocket. I'll sometimes also go to getpocket.com and manually add the article by clicking the + icon and pasting in the URL.
The second method was what sparked the idea for this post. It's such a delightful experience that I wanted to write about it. One of the reasons I love Twitter is it helps me discover great articles to read. Often when I'm scanning my feed I don't have time to open every article and read it. I therefore save it to Pocket. This is seamless on iOS. I long press the link and this pops up:
I tap the Pocket icon and the article is saved. It takes seconds and doesn't interrupt my "Twitter flow". Twitter is all about efficiency. I'm trying to squeeze in as many 140 characters as I can in my ride up the elevator, or while waiting in line for coffee. This "long press then save to pocket" combination doesn't interrupt my flow. It actually seamlessly integrates with it.
Pro iOS tip: The different "actions" that appear in the iOS menu after you long-press a link can be rearranged. Long-press any of the icons and they will begin to jiggle. Move them around to your satisfaction. I randomly discovered this and moved Pocket to the front of the list. No more scrolling to the right to get to it!