The creator of Inbox is ready to save Google from itself

If you’ve followed my ramblings for long, you know how I feel about Inbox — Google’s short-lived experiment with reinventing the way we experience email.

Inbox, built atop Gmail’s foundation, was a wildly different approach to managing messages. At its launch in 2014, the service was described as being “years in the making” — a “completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters.” Google told us Inbox was “designed for the problems we’re going to see in the next 10 years” and painted the app as being the future of not only Gmail but also of email itself.

And then, well — Google Googled. After pushing the idea of Inbox and adding in extra features and polish for a while, the company lost interest in the product, let it languish unattended, and eventually killed it off about four years after its birth.

While Inbox itself may be gone, though, its spirit lives on thanks to the ongoing work of one of its creators — a now-former Googler named Michael Leggett who’s taken it upon himself to keep the same minimalist principles that made Inbox so effective alive and available for anyone.

Leggett has just announced the launch of a new full-time business called Simplify. Its goal, as he puts it, is to improve the not-so-optimal design of web services from the outside — using his coding and design chops and relying on regular ol’ web extensions as a vehicle for delivering his vision. And if that sounds slightly familiar, it should.

Last spring, Leggett created a browser extension called Simplify Gmail (which is available for Chrome as well as for Firefox and even Edge). I wrote about it in this same space and still rely on it personally to this day. It’s no exaggeration to say the simple-seeming software has completely changed the way I interact with Gmail. It remakes Gmail into a totally different beast — one that doesn’t resemble Inbox directly, in terms of its interface or style, but absolutely does bring to mind the concepts that made Inbox beloved by so many productivity-minded email monsters (myself included).

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.


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