Yesterday's teardown of Gmail brought news that the app would soon bring some of the useful sorting methods over from the web client, giving users a way to see messages that might be the most important to them. Not to be left out of the fun, the latest update to Inbox reveals it has a couple new tricks of its own. Of course, we're talking about Inbox, so these upcoming features are driven by artificial intelligence and mountains of data about the types of messages that matter most to users.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.
The first topic of this teardown is called Highlights, which the text describes as putting "high priority emails on top." Just from the name and a few words of a description, it's easy to jump to envision that Inbox will quietly analyze a number of factors to determine which messages are high priority, including things like the source of the message, deadlines and urgency of the language in the body text, and how it relates to other messages you've received in the past. There is a button to mark messages that shouldn't appear in Highlights, which I assume will teach Inbox what to ignore in the future.
<string name="bt_highlights_settings_toggle_title">Show high priority emails on top</string>
<string name="bt_highlights_remove_action_text">Don't show in Highlights</string>
<string name="bt_highlights_batch_remove_action_succeed_message">%1$d removed from Highlights</string>
<string name="bt_highlights_remove_action_failed_message">Could not be removed from Highlights</string>
<string name="bt_highlights_remove_action_succeed_message">Removed from Highlights</string>
While this sounds like a natural fit with Inbox's already clever methods of bundling, Highlights will be an optional feature and can be turned off in settings.
Nudging (a.k.a. Follow-up Suggestions)
Inbox is all about task management, which brought about enviable features like bundling related message types and snoozing emails. While you can always manually set reminders to handle email chains that haven't reached some kind of resolution, it would be nice if Inbox could figure this out for you too. Cue an upcoming feature that will be called "Reply and follow-up suggestions."
The feature is referred to internally as "nudging," which might be an equally fitting name given its purpose. The concept is that Inbox will keep track of emails you may have forgotten – both those you've received but never replied to and the ones you've sent but never got a response to – and it will post notifications after a while with reminders to take a look and possibly follow up.
<string name="bt_nudging_setting_all_title">Reply and follow-up suggestions</string>
<string name="bt_nudging_setting_inbound_title">Reply suggestions</string>
<string name="bt_nudging_setting_inbound_summary">Emails you might have forgotten to respond to will appear at the top of your inbox</string>
<string name="bt_nudging_setting_outbound_title">Follow-up suggestions</string>
<string name="bt_nudging_setting_outbound_summary">Sent emails you might need to follow up on will appear at the top of your inbox</string>
<string name="bt_nudging_notification_inbound_title">Reply to %1$s?</string>
<string name="bt_nudging_notification_outbound_title">Follow up?</string>
If you're not interested in follow-up suggestions, you'll be able to turn off nudges for the messages you haven't replied to and/or those that have been sent and are still awaiting replies. There's currently no button to give feedback about individual threads that don't require follow-ups.
Google's algorithms will have to be pretty good at interpreting the end of an email chain, otherwise these nudges could become too noisy. Otherwise, this certainly sounds like a useful feature. This could reduce some of the cognitive load that comes from trying to remember many different conversations, especially when they necessarily run over several days or weeks.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.