I've never been a huge fan of the tabbed Gmail because it limits my ability to see everything at a glance. But having snagged an invite to Inbox on Wednesday night, I can report that the batch function is a big step forward for e-mail on mobile devices, where screen real estate is at a premium. The pinning function is also fantastically easy to use — almost too easy. It's not hard to imagine your list of pinned items growing longer and longer until it starts to resemble the old inbox you left behind.
One of the challenges of switching to a new e-mail paradigm is that some of the most basic mailbox functions are now more difficult to access. Virtually all the buttons and interactive elements in Inbox are associated with categorizing e-mail — marking them as read, marking them for later, marking them as spam, for the trash, or as part of a batch. But to forward a message requires you to hit a tiny menu button that looks identical to a larger button that you use to re-categorize messages. Replying to a message still requires opening said message. When you consider how Apple's iOS now lets you reply to text messages right from the lockscreen, you start to dream of being able to respond to e-mails the same way — if not from the notification, at least from the inbox view.
That said, Google more than makes up for all that with a simple "swipe" button that clears away everything that isn't pinned, which is a really satisfying way to de-clutter once you've dealt with the items that need your attention.
Some folks report that they love Inbox's simplicity, while others would rather have more power user features.
first impressions of inbox are v positive: intuitive, quick & easy to use. now they just need to make it work with google apps & on firefox— Simon Blackbourn (@lumpysimon) November 6, 2014