If you’re a Gmail fan, you probably like the clean interface, or maybe the priority inbox feature, which lets you choose the kind of mail you want to see up-front. Now, with a new Gmail redesign rolling out today, Google is trying to impose even more order on a crowded inbox.
Instead of sending you the usual stream of mail and giving you options to filter it (what Gmail does right now) the service can automatically sort your mail into five different categories.
- Primary: Your usual, run-of-the-mill mail, with everything together in one spot.
- Promotions: Groupons! And other assorted stuff Gmail terms deals.
- Social: “Hi! Someone posted something on your Facebook wall.” That sort of thing, and other social-networking updates.
- Updates: Apparently these are like life updates. Get a receipt or a bill or some other statement, and it goes here. (It’s the indoors-y, adult type to social’s fun, outgoing friend, if you will.)
- Forums: If you get an update from an online forum or subscribe to some newsletter-type thing, you can get updates on it here.
There are five tabs at the top, one for each of these categories. Just click on the tabs to switch between the different mail streams.
The obvious question here is: How smart is it at sorting? Am I going to get Nigerian princes in all of my forum updates? We can’t say for sure yet, but Google says the new inbox will learn through algorithms, and get better at sorting (and adapting to your preferences) over time. So, although Twitter updates are probably easily categorized as social, if your Blade Runner fan forum pings (JUST FOR EXAMPLE) get caught in the promotions tab, you can drag those emails to the correct category, and Gmail will start putting all of them there. If you want to do something a little counterintuitive–like put those Twitter messages in “forums”–you can teach it that, too.
As with other Gmail roll-outs, it’s designed to be there if you want it there. Users can select to use all five of the category tabs, or none of them. (New users signing up for Gmail after the switch will start automatically with social and promotions tabs. The folks who’ve already minutely customized their priority inboxes will have to opt in to the new design.) It’s also possible to switch back to Gmail Classic if you’re not feeling the new digs.
Along with that, a new mobile Gmail redesign based around the tabs system is coming to Android and iOS “within the next few weeks,” according to Google’s Gmail blog.