NEW YORK - Google plans to begin rolling out to Gmail users on Tuesday a new feature designed to automatically rearrange messages in their inbox so that the most important and pressing ones appear at the top.
Called Priority Inbox, the feature will be released with the beta, or test, label and is being described for now as “experimental” by the company.
All individual Gmail users will gain access to it in the coming days. Availability for people who use it as part of Google Apps will depend on whether domain administrators allow their users to activate “pre-release” features.
The motivation behind Priority Inbox is Google’s conviction that the problem of e-mail overload continues getting worse, forcing people to spend much time and effort managing their inbox both for personal and work-related matters.
Priority Inbox is an additional, optional view of inbox messages. People who choose it can toggle back to other more conventional views, such as listing messages chronologically by arrival timestamp or alphabetically by the senders’ names or subject lines.
With Priority Inbox activated, Gmail divides the inbox into three sections: the top one contains the most important and unread messages; the middle one has messages that have been flagged by users with a star to highlight them; and the last section has all other messages.
Matthew Glotzbach, director of product management in Google’s Enterprise unit, sees Priority Inbox as a sort of inverted spam filter which, instead of blocking and setting aside unsolicited messages, prioritizes items in the inbox so that users can attend more quickly to the most important e-mails.