Google Inbox Co-Founder Fixes Gmail. Again.

Posted on April 25, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 19 Comments

It turns out I’m not the only one who hates the Gmail web interface: The co-founder of Google Inbox does too. So he’s fixing it.

“It’s like Lucky Charms got spewed all over the screen,” former Gmail leader design and Inbox co-creator Michael Leggett told Fast Company, referring to the terrible Gmail web interface. “Go look at any desktop app and tell me how many have a huge fucking logo in the top left. C’mon. It’s pure ego, pure bullshit. Drop the logo. Give me a break.”

This is the kind of guy I can relate to.

As you may recall, I was a happy and content user of Inbox, Google’s simpler and more efficient front-end to Gmail—on both web and mobile—until Google announced last year it was killing it off. I evaluated Gmail, naturally, but found it to be as terrible and complex as Microsoft Outlook is on the Windows desktop, and vowed that I would never use Gmail.

By the time Google did finally kill off Inbox earlier this month, I had already moved on. But Leggett decided to do something about Gmail: He created a Chrome extension called Simplify that makes Gmail on the web look and work more like, wait for it, Inbox.

That Leggett helped invent Inbox is important: He gets it.

“The best I could hope for is, it’s really good and Google will force people to switch to Inbox, or it’s really good and they take the best features and put into Gmail,” he says of his decision to leave Google. But while Gmail did get some of Inbox’s best features, what it didn’t get was Inbox’s minimalist user experience. Gmail is a mess or, as Leggett puts it, full of “visual noise.”

And Simplify fixes that. Beautiful.

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