Pretty much everything Google does these days is a work in progress, so it’s not surprising that on Wednesday the company announced that it’s giving its popular Gmail program something of a facelift.
In effect, Google is creating filters that will automatically sort incoming messages into five specific categories – primary, social, promotions, Updates and Forums – which will appear as tabs along the top of the page. You can display all or none of the tabs.
As you'd expect, primary messages are those you want to see right away; the social box contains messages from social networks such as LinkedIn and Google+ (the announcement on Google blog didn’t mention Facebook, though it would be quite an omission); Promotions will help you keep tabs on offers from retailers; Updates for tracking packages and checking on flights, and a Forum tab for keeping up with discussions.
Rather than give you a lot more detail on how the new inbox will work, here's a video on YouTube that explains it quite well and has the bonus factor of playing one of my favorite oldies -- "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes.
"We get a lot of different types of e-mail: messages from friends, social notifications, deals and offers, confirmations and receipts, and more," wrote Itamar Gilad, a product manager at Google, in a blog post announcing the update. "All of these e-mails can compete for our attention and make it harder to focus on the things we need to get done."
The new in-box will begin rolling out for the desktop in the next few days, and will be available for iOS and Android devices within a few weeks. If you don’t like the new system, you can default back to a classic view. If you like it, but want to modify the new inbox to suit your taste, check out this page for details on how to do that.
I have yet to use the update; if it’s really terrible, which I doubt, I’ll let you know.