Free Gmail has stalled because to the focus on workspaces; Google needs another inbox experiment.

Always remarkably revealing is branding. The splash screen that appears when you open Gmail identifies it as a component of Google Workspace. When compared to G Suite, that brand, which debuted in 2020, makes it quite evident that Gmail, Meet, Chat, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Keep, and Voice aid in productivity. Although many people use Gmail for personal purposes as well as for work, Google has lately tended to disregard the latter use case. There is an answer to the lack of new innovation in Gmail’s past: Inbox.

STATE OF THE JOB The astonishing shift brought about by the Workspace makeover is, to its credit, the rapidity with which new features are now released. Google is working hard to make its family of apps the ideal place to complete tasks regardless of the situation (remote, hybrid, or in-office). The centerpiece of this drive is an integrated Gmail that enables multitasking and consolidates access to Chat, Spaces, Meet, and Docs to reduce tab switching.

However, the vast majority of new features and modifications have been made to enhance the experience for commercial clients ever since Google declared that its email service is the new home for work. Free users have profited, but they weren’t the target group.

At best, these individual users have mixed feelings about the Meet tab, but it would be interesting to see how popular free Chat and Spaces are now that Hangouts has taken over. Recent improvements to Gmail on the web, which are characterized by the new Sidebar navigation, and the Material You redesign for Android, which also included a new widget, are the biggest non-Workspace changes.

NOT ALWAYS IN THIS MANNER The previous redesign in 2018 represented the last big update to the fundamental email experience. This included having the option to perform actions straight from the inbox interface, such as opening pictures and other attachments, archiving, deleting, marking as read/unread, and dozing. Additionally, there was a convenient way to access the Calendar, Keep, and Tasks add-ons, as well as new security alerts and unsubscribe prompts. The other main focus that year was Smart Reply, which was later expanded upon by Smart Compose at I/O.

The main objective was to streamline email management and triage while also providing Google with astute advice. The Workspace logic, in contrast, while admirable, is extremely team-oriented , getting things done-focused, and synergistic. It doesn’t depict life outside of work.

Inbox, which the company said will be discontinued five months after unveiling the revamp, served as the inspiration for many of the new Gmail features. The Google said Inbox was an excellent area to test out new concepts, and the company discovered several new ways to improve email. Its justification for closing Inbox was that company intended to concentrate on one app, and that consolidation was acceptable following years of stagnant Inbox development.

Google must repeat the strategy that allowed Gmail to receive new capabilities, despite being four years old at the time.

PLAN KENNEDY INBOX, ALSO KNOWN AS THE MANHATTAN INBOX PROJECT You might not agree with all of the Workspace changes to Gmail as a free/personal user. The redesign does, however, make sense for the target market because Google aims to market an all-encompassing productivity solution for enterprises.

You can still use personal Gmail in a largely pre-Workspace fashion (i.e., by hiding the new tabs), but the overall interface is becoming stale.

In the current Google ecosystem, email is merely an input/piece of information that is intended to be somewhat dumb, with other apps intended to output it. Other Google services (Assistant and At a Glance) frequently surface messages as proactive notifications, such as those that are related to travel and events. That support shouldn’t be limited to different experiences. For a bigger audience, it must also be integrated into the popular Gmail software.

It seemed a little strange that Google had two email apps when Inbox originally debuted. However, that strategy made a lot of sense because the business need a space to test new ideas without interfering with most people’s daily tasks. Simply put, Gmail is too important to dramatically alter in untested ways.

Inbox by Gmail

In the last ten years, Google must have had some audacious ideas about how to improve email management and make Gmail more useful. While many ideas are at least worth reviewing, AI-backed smarts should leave the Compose window.

Bundles, for instance, never made it from Inbox to Gmail, and there was a newsletter function that would directly highlight items. Generally speaking, Inbox did an excellent job at summarizing your emails and presenting information in a more glanceable way. Although Gmail provides some curating, it isn’t as editorially or prominently featured as Inbox once was. With the glut of content available now, if anything, that is needed more than ever.

It’s time for Google to innovate personal Gmail usage and offer support for a common user experience: their inboxes. The ideal method to achieve so and clearly separate Inbox from Workspace may be to take the Inbox route. After all, it previously was successful.

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