(Credit: Google)

While Apple was busy pitching its shiny new watches and iPhones to the world today, rival Google took the opportunity to let us know that it's killing Inbox, an alternative to Gmail that the company's been developing in tandem for about four years.

Thankfully, Google will keep Inbox plugged in through March 2019, so you at least have a healthy amount of time to get reacquainted with Gmail (Android, iOS) -- which has been busily incorporating and expanding upon a number of Inbox features, such as smart replies.

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Google didn't sound eager to make the change, adding, "Inbox by Gmail has been a great place to experiment with new ideas like snoozing emails to later, as well as try the latest AI-powered experiences like Smart Reply, Nudges and high-priority notifications to help you stay productive."

To ease the pain, perhaps for itself as well as its users, Google created a user guide for asylum seekers who will be vacating Inbox for Gmail over the course of the next seven months.

Inbox took a different approach to your incoming messages than other email platforms, and perhaps it was a little too different for users to make the shift. Gmail also gets more than one billion monthly active users as of 2018 -- quite a bit more than all other webmail platforms combined -- so even with Google's marketing dollars, Inbox had a challenging road ahead of it from the beginning.

For reference, Google's entire Android platform hit the one billion monthly active user mark three years ago.

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In addition to the transition guide, Google also recently promoted five features in the new Gmail to entice Inbox fans. The highlights include AI that can detect emails that you might want to prioritize; Smart Replies, which use more AI to generate quick phrases to use in response to particular emails; an offline mode; a sidebar with shortcuts to Google Calendar, Keep, and Tasks; and the automated detection of a type malicious email message known as "phishing," which attempts to trick you into giving away passwords, credit card info, and other sensitive personal data.

The new Gmail has also adopted the "Material Design" visual theme that Google originally introduced to Android in 2014, with more white space and the company's Product Sans typeface.

The takeaways

  • Google is shutting down Inbox, its alternative to Gmail, at the end of March 2019.
  • The company has developed Inbox in parallel with Gmail since 2014.
  • Inbox users can take advantage of a transition guide to get them over to Gmail more smoothly.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.