(If you were on the Beta, please go back to the mainstream release to resume automatic updates).

After a year of trying and refining new features (with your feedback – thank you!), we’ve finally clicked the last couple of pieces of the jigsaw in place… ActiveInbox 5.0 is ready for all existing users.

What were those last two pieces? Speed & beauty!

ActiveInbox now feels instantaneous

Tom has been incredibly busy ripping out the battered, rusty old engine of ActiveInbox, and putting a brand new sports engine in its place.

I can’t stress how big a change this is… It’s not a simple bit of optimisation work (although we did that too), it’s 22,000 new lines of code.

So now when you load Gmail, click Action, set a due date, or change something in Active Results, it happens in the blink of an eye.

Beautifying ActiveInbox

A caveat: everyone who’s tried the beta has initially had a shock when seeing the changes. It takes about a day to get used to them. So when you upgrade, if you have an urgent desire to tell us about a visual tweak, please please sleep on it first! If it still bothers you after a couple of days, then let’s discuss it 🙂

With the help of the very talented James Beer of Logo Logo, we began making the interface absolutely coherent and so a joy to use (not just pretty!). I won’t bore you with every little detail, suffice it to say we did obsess over the little details.

Colour and Icons Have Meaning

Generally speaking, blue means ‘do something at your leisure’, and red is for the urgent Today or Overdue.

Also, if you set colours for labels in regular Gmail, ActiveInbox will make use of them.

We Defined ‘Task’ and ‘To Do’

We used to prevaricate on what to call a conversation that has a status/due-date, mostly calling them “to do”s or “active”. We’re now, rightly, calling them what they are: Tasks.

And by freeing up the phrase “to do”, we were able to stop using the ugly phrase “Next Steps”. Now a conversation can have a checklist of To Dos.

The Group By and Sort By menus are hidden until needed

We’ve been hearing that the Group By and Sort By dropdowns were confusing for new users, and were also just visually distracting for everybody else

So we did the kind thing, and tucked them into a menu icon where they can be expanded only when needed.

Other Things You Should Know

We removed the noisy/distracting cube that opened the Action Bar for each row in the Inbox. Instead, you now check the rows you want to change, and click the cube on the header bar.

Coming up next…

I’ll be mostly handling support for the next few weeks, smoothing out any remaining kinks.

I also want to keep tweaking the experimental Focus Mode based on your feedback, but we’re pretty much feature locked for the next few months. It’s time to spread the word a little!

On the topic of spreading the word, if you wish to write a review on the Chrome Webstore (or tweet out, or write something on your blog, etc.) it would be INCREDIBLY appreciated! We’ve never really done promotion, it’s all been word of mouth, and as our customer base grows we can afford more resources to develop faster – so it’s a very virtuous circle 🙂


This was written by Andy Mitchell