Comments on Google’s new InBox email reader

For better or worse, email remains the primary method computer users exploit for asynchronous communication. So Google’s release of a new reader application, InBox, stimulated my interest. I received an invitation to add the application and thought it might be helpful for readers to provide some comments here in this blog. For readers unfamiliar with the notion of “asynchronous communication”, the easiest way to understand the concept is simply to consider messages largely disconnected from one another. In other words, getting the message from an email does not require a review of the reply that may (or may not) result from it. Popular messaging apps like Whats App, or Facebook Messenger, Google Chat, etc. are all examples of synchronous communication, in other words messages are interdependent and really meaningless without the replies associated with them, even if there is no reply whatsoever. In the latter case the initial message is collected by each of these applications into the folder directly associated with a targeted recipient. In the case of almost any email reader, and in contrast, any sent message can be found in the “sent” folder repository for all sent messages, regardless of the intended recipient.

When I consider an application like Google InBox the important points all have to do with productivity, and, further, the pace at which I can locate information of importance to me, as opposed to all of the other information really of low importance to me. So I admit to liking the way InBox collects my messages into broad groupings: “Social”, “Updates”, “Promos”, etc. I find it easier to get the information I’m after as the result of this rearrangement. Dealing with a reorganized repository of messages is something easy for me to do.

But learning a different way of working with messages, which in the case of InBox amounts to using the new “Sweep”, “Pin” “Bundled”, “Unbundled”, etc features is another matter. I have made little, if any use whatsoever of these new features. Why? There is nothing wrong with how I’m presently working with my email, so I have no motivation to changing it. Learning a different way to work with messages is actually a matter of adopting a new computing technique. Adoption is a big deal and not something I want to get into, right now, for my daily, persistent need to interact with email.

I need an application like InBox to work with all of my email — not just the email I receive via GMail. This capability is presently available with Microsoft Outlook 2013, on my desktop. So I still prefer Outlook 2013, even without the new order to messages I’ve received by using InBox for my Google email aka GMail. I understand this capability will be rolled into GMail, but I would rather see it added to InBox. Perhaps I will have more information to share on this in a later post.

A bigger plus, for me, would be to have Google’s search service retrieve and expose relevant email messages from my inboxes based on my queries. Unfortunately the feature is not presently available, neither with Google Search, nor with Bing and/or Cortana.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Are Business Tech Consumers Likely to Adopt Cloud Computing for High Use, High Value Applications?

Analysts following cloud computing may want to include a “usefulness” factor into their assessment of how users are adopting these new computing trends. Early examples of how high value applications perform, when clients are located remotely from terminals and screens may not be as promising as one would otherwise expect.

We maintain an Office 365, Enterprise Edition subscription. Once we learned of the “1 TB of OneDrive storage coming to an Office 365 near you” offer from Microsoft, which provides any/all subscribers to Office 365 1 TB of storage, at no additional charge, we decided to back off of using an on premises Linux storage repository and move all of the active, daily storage we need to this OneDrive for Business cloud offer.

Unfortunately, when users are consuming office productivity applications like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint from the Office Professional Plus suite included with an Office 365 enterprise plan, the bi-directional communication required between desktop, remote client, and remote storage can (and in our case does) create a rather unsatisfactory daily computing experience which average users may not be willing to adopt.

Despite maintaining a high-speed fiber optic data connection with the WAN, we are experiencing 10-30 sec latency, literally 100s of times a day, as we create or edit documents which are stored in our OneDrive for Business repository. When the applications subject to this experience were limited to email and browsing web pages, this time drain didn’t amount to much and, therefore, was tolerable for our users. But when high value applications take on the same characteristics, it may not be easy for the “average” business technology consumer to accommodate the experience.

It would seem the same type of procedure is required of businesses using Google Apps for business, especially where the desktop hardware are Chromebooks. This writer thinks resellers like BestBuy opted to “pre-warn” consumers about the unique “flavor” of cloud-intensive computing as the results of a heavy rate of product returns from dissatisfied consumers (caveat: we have no hard statistics on this point, but still note introductory material designed to help consumers “learn more about Chromebooks” before they actually purchase one on BestBuy’s web site).

Bottom line: over time we think a substantial segment of consumers will be reluctant to adopt pure cloud computing for high value applications.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved