Google wants to “fix” email—by turning it into Google Now

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Google has been trying to reinvent email for years. Five years ago, Google launched Wave, which at the time spurred breathless articles about redefining email. A year in, Wave was shut down.

Today, Google’s giving it another more refined attempt with Inbox, a new app. If you believe the reviewers to whom Google has showed the app, it is “a total reinvention of email,” ”a big reimagining of the email interface,” that “puts the important stuff on top” and could very well be “a replacement for Gmail.”

It is probably all of those things. But Medium’s Steven Levy gets closest to what Google is trying to do, which is about an “evolution to nudge Inbox even closer to Google Now so that the concept of email itself blurs.”

Google’s Inbox is not an email app. It is a personal assistant, a tool for reminders, and a way to quickly scan incoming information all in one. Google Now, an automated personal assistant Google has been keen to promote, scans all of the data Google has on you and your movements to give you useful updates, such as if your train is delayed. Inbox will do the same for your email, showing photos from links, flight times from reservation emails, reminders from your calendar, and so on.

Ron Amadeo proposed an interesting theory over at Ars Technica last week, namely that Google’s strategy is to make two of everything. Inbox is the other Now. Will it replace email? Probably not. But it could be a very useful supplement for terribly busy people whose lives are filled with travel, adventure, photos from their recent outings, and several meetings every day. And it could also convince people of the virtues of Google Now.