Review: Adapting to New Google E-Mail Is a Chore

My first reactions to Google's new email app, Inbox, boiled down to one part frustration, one part irritation. It's meant to make your life easier, but it's more complicated to use than Google's Gmail app.

With Inbox, you keep your Gmail email address and contacts. The Inbox app adds organizational tools.

For many people, email is a place to store information. I rely on it for bills, shopping-delivery updates and travel plans. Inbox aims to improve on Gmail's information warehouse by automatically categorizing messages by subject and making them available to you at a time you prefer. It's also meant to help you search more easily on your phone.

Problem is, understanding how to use Inbox isn't intuitive. I spent hours fiddling with it and had assistance from Google that most people wouldn't have. Even after a few weeks, I still spend more time managing my email than I did with the Gmail app.

Nonetheless, I do plan on using Inbox as my primary email app because it is better at searching through emails.

Inbox is available on Apple and Android phones and Google's Chrome browser on traditional computers. The free app is technically by invite only, but it didn't take long to get mine at http://inbox.google.com. You need a Gmail account to use it.

ORGANIZATION

My Gmail app already sorts my email into categories: Bills, travel reservations and appointments typically wind up in Updates, while mailing-list items go to Promotions. The rest go to Primary.

Inbox goes further and calls these categories "bundles": Travel, Purchases, Finance, Social, Updates, Forums and Promos. You can also create your own labels -- mine include Pics, Work, Links and Taxes -- to supposedly sort future emails automatically.

Problem: The distinctions between Google's bundles are subtle, and it doesn't always sort emails as I would like them.

And for my own labels, forget it....

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