Inky Tries to Fix Your Inbox and Show You What is Relevant
“Inky, An App for All Your Email. Smart Views, Unified Inbox, Relevance Sorting, Cloud Enabled, and More!”
Inky tries to solve the problem of email being “broken” by modernizing the way we look at email through unique sorting methods. It is available on both Windows and Mac.
Inky tries to be minimal, but due to some significant flaws it fails in this respect. The first major problem is that it doesn’t look like it belongs on a Mac or Windows computer, even though it has apps for both. They each look the same, as though they were designed for the web and not as a standalone program.
Second, the message title font is too big, which means it can’t list very many messages at once. In the list of messages, you don’t get much of a preview of the email text. There’s no point in putting any at all if it is only going to list the first four words of the message. You can’t even see the entire subject for most messages. Because I want to be able to quickly scan through my list of emails to decide what to read, this is a problem. Also, the font for the labels is too big and too spaced out. It just takes up to much space on the screen, especially when you can’t even adjust the column size.
After getting over the font problem, there’s the issue with the icons for the different categories. Some of them make sense, but others are less intuitive. The person could represent a list of your contacts, but is actually for emails from people on your contacts. It’s difficult to tell what the icon is that stands for your subscribtions and the default icons seperating your email accounts also aren’t intuitive. Thus, you end up having to scroll over each icon to figure out what it stands for or deal with looking at the label view that takes up too much space.
One of the nice features of Inky is that you can create one account that houses all of your email accounts. So if you sign up for Inky on one computer, you can just log in using the username you created on another and all of your accounts will already be set up. There’s no need to configure everything again. Configuring each account was also very simple and I ran into no problems getting them to sync.
Reading messages is painful in Inky. It tries to do something somewhat unique, though similar to Gmail’s priority inbox, by sorting messages through their relevance. Unlike Gmail, which only sorts by priority or not priority, Inky uses a scale with different levels of relevance. The more relevant the message, the closer to the top of the list it will appear. Well, it would if the app worked correctly. Through my experience, it rarely finds anything of relevance and the messages appear somewhat at random. A response to an email I personally sent to someone was considered not relevant to me. That is significant problem. Perhaps over time it might learn, but because it starts sorting without having learned, important messages get sent to the bottom, while random newsletters appear at the top.
One of the largest problems with sorting by relevance is that it still sorts by time intervals. It shows what it thinks is the most relevant message in the last four hours, today, yesterday, etc. This method means that I’m still not being shown what is most relevant to me. I don’t want to see what is most relevant in the last four hours, I want to see what is most relevant overall. If I received an email the day before and didn’t get a chance to check until today, this method would mean that important email would be hidden at the bottom even though it is most relevant.
Inky does have a method to help it learn what is relevant. When reading a method, you click the drop and choose whether the message is or isn’t relevant to you. Because of the gradual scale it works on, if a message is originally marked as not relevant, you will have to click multiple time to show the message is very important.
Instead of sorting by relevance, you can also sort by a few other factors, such as by time. This is good, but defeats the purpose of using Inky. If the most relevant messages were shown to you correctly, you wouldn’t need to sort by time. If you’re going to sort by time, you might as well just use the default Mail client, which actually looks like it belongs on a Mac, or use your respective web client.
I liked Inky’s compose screen. It takes up the whole screen, but this gives you plenty of room to see the message you are writing. Often when I draft messages in the Gmail web client, I have trouble seeing the entire message in conversation view, so this was a nice change. Although, I would have like a windowed mode rather than always having to keep the entire program open.
Aside from the problems above, Inky also runs slow. It took awhile for my messages to sync and navigating is difficult. Often whenever I changed the sorting method of my messages, nothing happened and they would remain in the same order. It was frustrating to use and quite buggy, often freezing and requiring a restart. Accessing the settings only worked part of the time and the rest of the times the app froze. These problems appear in both the Mac and Windows apps.
Inky tries to fix email with its relevance system, but ends up making it more confusing. It is plagued with bugs and not ready for full-time use.