Shush, shush, gather close, I have to whisper this… we’ve been a little quiet on the blog for a few months. This is an opportune time to explain ourselves… we’ve actually been working on 3 different prototype products to add to the family. One of them is very close to fruition, and more on that soon, but the important thing to know is this has been a really creative period and we’ve been hammering away every day 🙂

But while we were in our cave typing away, we felt rippling vibrations that shook the walls and demanded we look up from our screens… the explosion? New Gmail.

We’ve been around long enough to see every incarnation of Gmail, and by our count this is V3, and the biggest upgrade since 2009.

And it’s pretty darn lovely.

But we didn’t initially see it that way. No no no, the short version is it’s required us to throw out and replace about 50% of ActiveInbox’s codebase. 10s of 1000s of lines of code. 10 years of work. And we only had a few weeks to actually achieve that. 3am has been, if not exactly a friend, a regular acquaintance recently.

But we’re (just about) there. And the amazing thing is I really love the impact its had. In throwing out all that code, we threw out the rotten wood, all the clutter in the loft, and freed up so much space for the future. Once the dust has settled – and there will be a period of unexpected quibbles I’m sure – ActiveInbox will be faster & more stable than it could ever have been before. And as a bonus, we’ll be able to develop new features quicker.

So what’s coming up?

Gmail is currently rolling out 3 separate versions of itself (which is hellishly complex for us, but so it goes): 1 is old Gmail, 1 looks like old Gmail but has their new data system, and 1 is new Gmail.

We’ve just published ActiveInbox 7.0.4. It’ll work with all of them, but you might notice a few features are missing.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing back

  • Firefox support
  • Send Later
  • The Action Bar when you’re composing or replying
  • Move Nexters above buttons in conversations
  • The ability to update emails from the inbox and search results

Because the new system has given us new powers, in the next month we’ll introduce some new features

  • We’ll be able to make ActiveInbox load a lot faster, with a new caching technique
  • Some experiments to semi-automate ActiveInbox, so it can help you track things you’re waiting on, suggest folders, and suggest emails you might have missed.

Of course, as we’ve had to work around the clock to release this in time, I expect there may be some gremlins hiding, so if you have any questions or problems, we’ve got a mega thread prepared to discuss them: https://getsatisfaction.com/activeinbox/topics/new-gmail-new-aib-v7-error-reporting-here-only-please

Categorised in:

This post was written by AndyM

  • Erin Reynolds

    Woohoo!! Exciting! 😀 (And I’m so glad to hear that ActiveInbox will be working with the new Gmail!)

    • Thanks Erin 🙂 I actually think it sits really nicely with the new Gmail – I think because Gmail itself is a bit more “airy” AIB’s design feels at home.

  • Glad to read that you’re on the ball. This adds to the reputation of a solid and reliable product. When all this is done, I hope you have time to develop the mobile version further so we can carry over workflow from the desktop while on the move.

    • Thank you! Actually, while I have your ear, what’s the most pressing thing you’d like to see changed in mobile? (We’re up to our necks in work, but that just makes it all the more important to prioritise your needs!).

      • Adrian Calderon

        To throw in my two cents, I would prioritize the following for the mobile app:
        1) Better offline capability — My main use case for mobile is to use it in the subway / while commuting, so offline is essential! Currently, if I miss the window to pre-load info, the app doesn’t work too well.
        2) Notifications — To truly switch from the Gmail app, I’d need the notifications to be equally real-time, including all iOS types of alerts (badge icon, lock screen notifications, etc.).

        • @kitezh:disqus @adrian_calderon:disqus Copy that – and double yes to pre-loading.

          • in RE to the mobile app: it also stopped keeping people logged in as of yesterday. I now have to log into Gmail each time I use the app.

          • Brett – if you’re still suffering (I’m so sorry 6 days has gone by btw, I’ve been buried in code and barely surfaced), can you message support@activeinboxhq.com? That’s something we should be able to investigate.

          • No prob, Andy! It was like that for a few days and then started working like it did before. I’ll definitely shoot an email over if it continues again.

      • Yes, I’d agree that offline is the main issue. Even if online, there’s a long wait after opening the app before I can see the mails. It’s usually just easier to fiddle around with the gmail app, where the emails are pre-loaded. It would be great if you could tap into that store, somehow, like you do on the desktop.

      • Kito D. Mann

        +1 for offline improvements. Also, I find it’s a little flaky (I’m on iOS), but I don’t have specific use cases (other than lockups while fetching e-mails or dealing with intermittent connections).

        There are some other things that need improvement:

        (1) Ability to Reply All to individual e-mails (rather than the whole thread)
        (2) Better handling of attachments. I almost have to go to GMail to handle them.
        (3) Display the last e-mail in a thread first, like GMail on iOS does. For long threads, I often have to switch to GMail rather than trying to scroll through every e-mail in ActiveInbox.

        • As ever, thank you Kito. Our original motivation with the mobile app was to provide a way to triage emails on the go so you could handle them when you were back at the desktop (simply because to do more at first would have overwhelmed us), but I definitely feel we need to keep evolving it. When the dust has settled with AIB, and we’ve got the new prototypes at least into the public (which will hopefully influence what we do with mobile), we will have the resources to resume it.

          • Kito Mann

            That’s great to hear, Andy! I feel like it was getting consistently better, and then all development stopped. I was worried you were abandoning it!

      • J Sturgis

        I’ll add my comment as well. For me the number one issue is lack of multiple account support. I have four paid AIB accounts and can only use one in the Android app. Altogether I have seven email accounts in use and still can only use one account in the app. I don’t use the app because I can’t use the app. I’m not sure if I know of a single other email app that works for only one account.

  • Jimble

    Morning

    I installed and reviewed ActiveInbox awhile ago and was going to sign-up for a Professional account. Given the new Gmail, why should I still do so? How are you differentiating yourselves?

    Ta.

    • Excellent question Jimble, let me try to match it with a good answer 🙂

      tl;dr Gmail + Google Tasks *might* suit you if you prefer to manage full blown tasks (but then you’d probably be using Todoist or Trello)… but ActiveInbox’s concept is one of the emails being the tasks. There’s not a separation of “here are tasks; here are emails”, requiring you to manage two pieces of data for every action. Hence why we’ve always done well with managers – amongst many others – for whom their inbox truly is their to do list.

      But anyway, let’s concrete! What’s Gmail done?
      – Snoozing
      – Relocated Google Tasks to be less hidden away.

      Both are improvements for sure. But snoozing has been around in the email world since at least 2011, and around that time we played with doing it ourselves, but what we saw in the data was that everyone snoozes the same things repeatedly, essentially building up a tidal wave of snoozed emails ahead of themselves. We’ve always felt it was much more relaxed, and less twitchy, to have a simple ‘Today’ list, sortable by priority, where you can steadily progress through things.

      As for Google Tasks, it still has the same fundamental ‘extra work’ issue… you’re creating a separate task and then adding your email to it. Now you’ve got two things to manage. With ActiveInbox, the concept has always been that the email itself is the task, and it’s much more fluid to your workflow.

      Of course, while most emails are too small to belong in a powerful full blown task manager (hence why it’s good to manage them as little tasks themselves), sometimes you might want to add emails to your projects in your project manager. We’re thinking about that too, and soon will have integrations to help with the most popular tools.

      But where we’re hoping to help is more automation. Being smart about what you need a reply too, and making sure you get it. Suggesting project folders so you don’t have to think about it. That kind of thing.

      And of course, for many people, being able to summarise long conversations into Sub Tasks & Notes – and replace the subject line – is still very useful for flying through their emails.

      Finally – we’ve definitely not been lazy this last year 🙂 We’ve been working on some brand new ideas, things never seen before in email. It means they’re a bit risky for us, as the world may reject them, but I’m confident they’ve all got *some* promise, and as we release the prototypes we’ll home in on whatever that is!

      I thoroughly welcome you to question me further, and pick any holes in my thinking 🙂

      • sunkneeg

        This is really good insight. I was considering cancelling my AIB subscription until you pointed out the gaps in new Gmail…this may be worth a blog-post so people still realize the solutions AIB will continue to provide over Gmail.

      • jDeppen

        The email being the task is key for me; unless Gmail incorporates that, I’m here for good. Subtasks are also huge to summarize the Next Action so I don’t have to reevaluate each email every time. Thanks for the hard work.

      • Jimble

        Just read – will come back with later thoughts, but the email being the task concept is a persuasive argument, if one is able to manage all or a majority of tasks within and do away with the need for a separate task manager. Unfortunately, I’ve found the majority of my emails need to be broken into multiple sub-tasks, which didn’t seem to be well-supported at the time.

        I’ll re-enable AIB and have another play.

        • jDeppen

          In that case, I’d create a folder (project) and break down the sub-tasks. The alternative is sub-tasks right on the email.

  • BradCouper

    Looking forward to see it in action Andy.

  • Kieron Mitchell

    Thanks Andy for all your hard work!

    As an aside, suggest you date your blog entries.

  • José María García Rodríguez

    I have to say I was a little worried because of the radio silence here about the “big” GMail change to come. Now, this post is a relief, and I am eager to see those new superpowers that are in the works 🙂

    Just to make it clear… when you refer to those missing features you mean that they won’t work in “new Gmail”, right? If so, I would prefer to wait for AiB updates before changing to the new Gmail interface.

    • Hi Jose – just to confirm your hunch is correct, but we’re getting things back as quickly as possible!

  • Great! Looking forward to it. For what it’s worth – and I don’t know if this is related – the iOS app stopped working yesterday. It requires you to now log in every single time you access the app. It doesn’t keep Gmail logged in. This happened months back and you issued a patch that fixed it. Any chance of getting that again?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hey Brett – just in case you didn’t get the notification above, please email us via support and we’ll dig in!

  • Benzojones

    I actually took a spin with new gmail and AiB. All was fine EXCEPT when I went to clear the due date. It kept reverting back.

    I switched back to old gmail and it worked properly. I imagine this is a gremlin and will be addressed, but I am curious as to if anyone else had this issue.

    • Johan Hammarström

      Same issue here…

      • Agreed chaps (and Ben I’m so sorry it took 6 days to reply, as I said to Brett, it honestly feels like that time went in a blink – there’s crazy amounts of work happening here).

        • Johan Hammarström

          Regarding issues on Due days,please also see my posts in the forum…

  • Terry Harker

    My Gmail account is set up through G Suite. Is it possible to get the new Gmail when using this paid set up?

    • Hi Terry – I believe Google are rolling out to GSuite. I got an email a while back telling me I could have it if I signed up to their Early Adopter Programme.

  • Angus

    Thanks Andy. All sounds very exciting…apart from the potential gremlins.

  • I recently updated to the new Gmail. I’m not seeing a way to complete items. In the old Gmail, I could just check them off. Now that’s missing. I’ve searched this post and also the forum and can’t find a solution. Thank you.