Google released a new email app called Inbox on Wednesday that can best be described as Gmail-lite.
Intended to be less time-consuming than Google's original email service, Inbox borrows some of Gmail's features like prioritizing important messages and leaves out others, like ads.
"The team is focused on developing the product, and there are no ads in Inbox right now," said a Google spokeswoman in an email.
However, marketers won't be entirely locked out of the new app. The spokeswoman said that emails from brands will appear within Inbox but separated into a Promotions bundle, which is similar to Gmail's Promotions tab that was introduced last year.
These so-called "bundles" are a key feature of Inbox, grouping emails into categories like Finance, Travel and Social to reduce the time it takes to find a message. For example, the Finance bundle will contain someone's emailed bills.
But the underlying intent of Inbox seems to be removing the need to open an email at all. The service will pull information like phone numbers, flight information or attachments from an email and highlight them within the app's main feed. And Inbox will sift through emails to do other things that make it more like a personal assistant than a message repository.
"For example, if you write a Reminder to call the hardware store, Inbox will supply the store's phone number and tell you if it's open. Assists work for your email, too. If you make a restaurant reservation online, Inbox adds a map to your confirmation email. Book a flight online, and Inbox gives a link to check-in," according to a Google blog post announcing Inbox.
By reducing the need for people to open an email in order to access the information they need, Inbox may shrink marketers' email open rates. But by potentially distilling the actual value of those communications, it may also reduce the likelihood of people deleting brands' emails or unsubscribing from their email lists.
Inbox is available as an app on devices running Apple's iOS or Google's Android mobile operating systems. People can also use it on desktop through Google's Chrome web browser. But as with Gmail's initial roll-out, anyone looking to use Inbox has to request an invite or receive one from a friend with access to the app.