I’m incredibly proud – and a little nervous if I’m honest – to give a sneak preview of ActiveInbox 6 🙂

But first, preamble…

Our historic pattern of development with ActiveInbox is to add interesting new ideas, generated from talking with you all, until it starts to resemble a school noticeboard… And then we shake it all up with a big overhaul.

It’s not a stress-free approach, and today I’m pleased to announce this will be the last of the traumatic overhauls. Because we’ve got a new secret weapon.

Olly joined us a few months ago, and is the driving force of us becoming design-orientated.

Like cooking a great meal, the first job is to clean and prepare the work surfaces (which is what V6 is doing) so you can actually start cooking (and we’ve got an abundance of new developments coming down the pipe, all overseen by chef Olly).

And to stretch this analogy to breaking point, developer Remi is every-other-job-in-the-kitchen, pretty much single handedly bringing Olly’s vision to life while the rest of us work on mobile.

What’s New?

In essence, we’ve tidied up a lot of the rough edges.

The Review Bar has moved above the Inbox

The big change is in how you review tasks: we realised it’s best to have them kept under your nose at all times (which is what Radar used to do), but also it’s scary to be far away from your inbox. We think we have a pretty neat solution to this.


We finally cracked Waiting

Many years ago, we had a big debate about why Waiting On wasn’t quite perfect.

The main issue is that Waiting should be its own flag. Just because I’m Waiting on something doesn’t change whatever Status I’ve given it, it’s an additional piece of information.

And during my phone interviews with many of you, most of you said you add a Due Date with each Waiting item, “so you don’t forget to follow up”. It’s clear Waiting needed it’s own timed reminder, but Due Date wasn’t exactly perfect. By separating them, you can now do cool things like state the eventual Due Date is in 2 weeks, but you expect a reply from Alice within the next 2 days.

Finally, there are actually two very separate use-cases for Waiting:

  • You just need a reply, any reply. If you get the reply, you can safely automatically remove the Waiting flag. For this, we make it an option you can set per email.
  • It’s blocked until you’ve decided otherwise. E.g. you’ve asked a big question of several colleagues, and a simple reply like “Ok, I’ll investigate” shouldn’t automatically change anything. In this case, you want to manually remove the Waiting flag in the future.


Adding Tasks is a lot easier

You can now create tasks in quick succession to get things off your mind.


There’s no longer a need to choose between the ActiveInbox and Gmail sidebar

We simply blend them into one.


We’re giving things more meaningful names

Statuses are becoming Lists, projects are now Folders, and any custom things you have (e.g. contexts) are Tags.

It’s a less idiosyncratic way of thinking about things, which might even inspire your brain to optimise your workflow.

What’s Next?

We want your feedback for how you find the new beta, and anything we’ve overlooked (please please give it a chance, after the shock of change).

Would you like to try it?

  1. You’ll need to switch to the Beta channel, which means going into your Extensions list in Chrome and removing ActiveInbox, then installing the Beta version instead.
  2. In the Preferences, check “Enable Version 2016”, and refresh Gmail.

A Promise

Following the first few comments, there’s a few things I want to clarify!

  • This is a big shocking change, and I don’t want to thrust that upon anyone who doesn’t want it. We’re committed to freezing AIB5, dubbed ‘ActiveInbox Classic’, and keeping it available for at least 6 months – and if we can, forever. We’re very aware we’re only here because of you, and I don’t want to anyone to think I’m not being respectful 🙂
  • This hasn’t actually been rolled out as brutally as it might seem: it’s only gone to the 300 or so people who had previously opted in to the Beta channel. If you’re not happy about this, you can switch back to the Public channel, by uninstalling ActiveInbox from your Chrome extensions list, and reinstalling like normal.
  • I really like to release our Betas as early and publicly as possible, so everyone can see what we’re working on, but which means they might include show stopping problems (e.g. overlooked functionality). Although this is exactly the kind of thing we love to discover in the beta period, I can see it adds to the alarm. The important thing to know is that I’m listening, and already with the first few comments, I’ve generated an improvement list with 40 items on it.


This was written by Andy Mitchell