Inbox, Google’s task-oriented alternative to traditional Gmail, is basically a hyper-intelligent organizer that serves up information that you need with eerie precision. Beyond being able to manually manage messages like any reminder app, swiping left on emails to “Snooze” them (resurface them at a later date), Google also applies all sorts of contextual smarts behind the scenes.
Get a confirmation e-mail for a restaurant reservation, for example, and it’ll pull up the joint’s address and phone number. Receive plane booking information, and it’ll track your flight’s status.
Counterintuitively, Inbox previously did not apply that intelligence to Snooze times. You were stuck jumping between Inbox and your calendar to figure out just when you needed to be reminded of something. But now it does: thanks to an update that went live yesterday, swiping left on a package tracking update, restaurant/hotel/event/car rental reservation, flight confirmation, or calendar invite pulls up the the usual Snooze options with a new “hour before” option. Inbox, if you let it, will derive a day and time from the e-mail to remind you of it when appropriate.
Google has in fact been giving a lot of attention to email lately, and not just Inbox. It announced a cavalcade of “neural network”-powered enhancements to its spam filter last week, improving detection to such a degree that Gmail can now identify sophisticated phishing scams and respect individual deletion preferences.
And earlier this year Inbox gained two new features, the ability to briefly “undo” sent e-mails, and reminder syncing with Google Keep. Then in May, Google acquired Timeful, an app with to-do list and calendar features centered around time management, with the intention of folding its features into Inbox and Google Calendar in the coming months.
The investments in Gmail are no surprise given the service’s rapid growth. At the Mountain View-based company’s I/O developer conference in May, senior vice president of product Sundar Pichai announced a new milestone: 900 million active users. With Gmail, of course, serving ads, it’s not hard to put two and two together and see why Google’s making its mail service as enticing as it possibly can. And from the search giant’s financial imperative to grow Gmail sprouts new features like intelligent Snooze, AI spam filters, and even Inbox itself. Most people can agree that, from a user perspective, that’s certainly not a bad thing.