As we discussed last week in our podcast, our email accounts are likely to follow us around for the rest of our lives. We need an email address to sign up for online services, to access digital accounts, and, increasingly, to receive crucial mail that no longer arrives in paper form. All of this makes email marketing an increasingly attractive target for marketing campaigns—but also a system ripe for innovation and improvement. This week we look at four articles exploring the present and future of that simultaneously most beloved yet most hated online invention: the email inbox.

Google reinvents the email experience: Rumors spread across the Internet that Google’s Inbox application, which updates basic email with a user-friendly graphic interface, might one day dethrone Gmail as their flagship email product. The team behind Inbox says there are no plans for a transition right away, but Inbox has proven popular with an important business demographic—so much so that the company is announcing additional support for business clients who use Google for their internal email systems. [Read more at The Next Web]

A promising email upstart bows out: Though it debuted to positive reviews and was beloved by some users for its clean and well-designed user experience, Dropbox’s Mailbox is no more. The company said the app didn’t gain the level of users they had expected for a desktop version, and some users complained it was buggy and crash-prone. But it turns out that designing and executing an email client is tough and involves cumbersome programming languages and high user experience. In this analysis from Venture Beat, the smart money is on internal team communication tools like Slack and cloud storage providers like Google Drive gradually replacing the need for email altogether. [Read more at Venture Beat]

Predict the future of email by examining the past: In 1985, the government think tank the RAND Corporation released a paper on the future of email, which was then a niche communication method reserved for military and government personnel. Many of their predictions, it turns out, have come true, and email has fundamentally reshaped the way we communicate with each other and, in many cases, reach out to complete strangers. But the research paper also suggests some interesting implications for future use of email, such as so-called “unlisted electronic mailboxes” that enable high-level executives to escape endless email outreach. [Read more at Gizmodo]

Personalization and customization make your email account just for you: A group of email experts make their predictions for the future of the service, and high on the list is the ability to personalize and customize email accounts to meet a user’s specific needs. Among the predictions they make: templated emails that change depending on who you’re talking to, new ways to write emails on mobile devices, and lots more third-party apps that interface with your email provider. [Read more at Mashable]

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