We all get too much email. It's not just spam, either--that stuff rarely makes it past the front gates of email security, so lots of people hardly ever see it anymore. But many of us get dozens of emails per day, some of which can be ignored, some of which may need responding at some point later, and some of which should be answered as soon as possible. But it's all clumped together without care or meaning!
Google's new Priority Inbox for Gmail offers a solution. It uses some of the same algorithms used for Gmail's excellent spam filtering, but for the opposite purpose: to triage, to see just how important each email is. The Priority Inbox will be an item in the left-hand column, right above Inbox, and will be divided into three sections: Important and Unread, Starred, and Everything Else.
Important and Unread emails will include correspondence with people you always respond to right away, as well as emails that include keywords that usually grab your attention. Email sent specifically to you, and not to others as well, will receive preferential placement.
It's a thoughtful system, an easy way to quickly see what needs immediate responding and what can wait—provided the algorithms are effective. If users don't trust the prioritization system, the whole feature is useless, so hopefully Google has figured out a way to judge the importance of emails well. It's not a new idea—the redesigned Hotmail has a similar feature—but a welcome one, for sure.
Google Priority Email will begin rolling out today (Tuesday) in beta, after alerting users to the option. There's no timetable for a rollout to mobile, but there will be one sometime in the future. Maybe it's not the end of email after all, right?