Google today announced that it is killing off Inbox by Gmail at the end of March 2019. This is Google’s six-month notice: Users trying to access Inbox after March will be unceremoniously redirected to Gmail.
Google introduced Inbox by Gmail as a limited invitation-only email service in October 2014. The company mainly used it as a place to experiment with new email ideas like snoozing emails, Smart Reply, Nudges, and high-priority notifications. Four years later, Google has decided it doesn’t need the service anymore.
In April, Google redesigned Gmail with a slew of new features, many of which were first tested as Inbox experiences. Google says everything in Inbox by Gmail has already been ported over to the new Gmail, save for one feature. Trip bundles, which groups travel emails like flight, hotel, restaurant, and car rental reservations together into Trips, is the last one standing: It is also going to be brought over to Gmail eventually.
Going forward, the company says it will solely develop Gmail, invoking the word “focus” whenever it kills a product or service: “As we look to the future, we want to take a more focused approach that will help us bring the best email experience to everyone,” the company said.
We asked why Google can’t keep Inbox by Gmail around for testing even more new email ideas. There was no straight answer, but the new Gmail has an “experimental features” section under Settings where users can opt-in to test new features before they’re ready for prime time — Smart Compose is the first such feature — which is how Google will test new email ideas going forward.
For those who use Inbox instead of the new Gmail, Google has created a transition guide to help them switch. Since Inbox is really just another user interface for your Gmail account, you don’t need to transfer anything, just sign into Gmail and get used to the new interface.
Back in December 2014, lead designer Jason Cornwell answered a question about whether Inbox would replace Gmail by saying:
In the short term, no. In the very long term, we hope so. Inbox is something new — that’s why we’re launching it as a separate product. We care deeply about Gmail and Gmail users, but in the long run as we add more features to Inbox and respond to user feedback we hope that everyone will want to use Inbox instead of Gmail. Ultimately, our users will decide.
It looks like ultimately users picked Gmail, or at least Google did.