Inbox, the product from former Dropbox employees and MIT students, launched today, TechCrunch reports, and did so very quietly for a product gunning to go up against Google’s Gmail.
Last month at its annual I/O event, Google launched the Gmail API, which helps developers build apps that work with Gmail.
Inbox works similarly, except it connects with all email providers, from AOL to Outlook, the company wrote in a press release. It allows developers to build tools to help users with email, like apps to autosend emails or time-delay messages. One unique feature is for a developer to access data in a user’s mailbox. “For example, you could use Inbox to build an app showing detail from all the flight confirmation messages a user received last year,” the startup’s site explains.
“Email is the database of your life. It’s the digital home for your conversations, memories,
and identity,” Inbox cofounder and CEO Michael Grinich said in the press release.
Grinich worked as an engineer at Dropbox and a designer at Nest. Last winter he formed Inbox with Christine Spang, formerly an engineer at Ksplice. The open-source app was always meant to work with a variety of email clients, and soon will even function with enterprise software, like Microsoft Exchange, its website says. But being the Gmail API of everything of course isn’t easy.
“Storing the world’s email data for secure and fast access is a monumental task,” said Spang. “We’re solving this from the ground up.”
The ground is pretty low. The company’s website drives home the fact that email itself is more than 30 years old. With technology from three decades all at some point working with the web’s most prevalent platform, of course things can get a little messy.
Still, Inbox is here and Grinich and Spang say it’s here to stay. The two used some precious web real estate to throw out a diss at the internet giant, which notoriously shuts down pet projects.
“Inbox is an email company. Google is an advertising company. This product is our focus, and will not be ‘discontinued’ unexpectedly,” Inbox’s website says, or rather, burns.