TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Ways Gmail’s New Inbox Will Make Your Email Life Infinitely Better

email
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You’ll love the “pin” feature

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

We all love to hate on email. For good reason: It’s time-consuming, dull, and requires constant attention. But while email isn’t going to disappear in the foreseeable future, your worst email woes might.

Last month, Google rolled out Inbox, a new email interface. It’s like Gmail’s younger, hipper sister—clean, sleek, and loaded with lots of productivity-boosting features designed to help make dealing with email, well, suck less.

In other words, if you currently use Google products at work, your professional life is about to be changed. Here are just a few ways Inbox has answers for your biggest complaints about email.

1. If You’re Constantly Forgetting About Important Emails

You’ll love the “pin” feature. Just hover over an email, tap the push-pin icon, and voilà—the message is put front and center in your inbox until you un-pin it. You can even turn on a function that will only display pinned emails.

Put it to Work

Your boss sends you extremely detailed instructions for a project. Instead of having to do a search for the message each and every time you work on the task, just pin the email to your inbox. You’ll have it open in your browser within two seconds.

2. If You Hate Wasting Time Opening Messages Just to See the Attachments

You’ll love the “preview” future. With regular email, attachments are indicated by a little paperclip. But Inbox takes this way, way further by actually showing you what the attachments are and allowing you to open them without opening the email. This includes documents, pictures, Excel spreadsheets, videos—you name it.

Put it to Work

You’ve been waiting for your client to send you a revised contract, and you finally see her name in your inbox. Instead of spending time opening her email, scrolling all the way to the bottom to see if she’s attached it, and then downloading it, you can quickly pull up the contract and get to work.

3. If You Hate How Cluttered Your Inbox Gets

You’ll love the “bundle” feature. Bundling automatically sorts your email into categories—kind of like Gmail’s primary, social, and promotions tabs, but much more sophisticated (and easy to use). The built-in categories include travel, purchases, finance, and updates, and you can also add your own. Emails of the same category will appear together in your inbox.

Put it to Work

You’re planning your vacation, and you’re being flooded with ticket confirmations, tour reservations, hotel bookings, and so on. Meanwhile, your mom keeps sending you old pictures she’s found, and your boss has emailed you multiple spreadsheets to review. Instead of having all of those emails appear jumbled together—a one-way ticket to distraction city—they each show up in separate little boxes, making it easy to deal with each task one at a time.

4. If You Hate Clearing Out Your Inbox

You’ll love the “sweep” feature. This allows you to archive whole bundles at once: Just click the checkmark above a bundle, and it’ll be swooped out of sight, saving you the trouble of manually going through and archiving individual messages.

And don’t worry—if you’ve pinned a message, it’ll stick around in your inbox.

Put it to Work

You’ve just gone through scads of LinkedIn and Google+ invitations, and now you want to de-clutter your inbox. You scroll down the social bundle and click sweep. The bundle vanishes!

5. If You Hate Having to Remember to Answer Emails

You’ll love the “snooze” feature. If you get an email at an inconvenient time, Inbox lets you schedule it to come back later. Just click the clock icon and pick a time (from an exact day and hour to “someday”). It will disappear from your inbox until then, so you won’t have to keep reminding yourself you still need to answer.

Put it to Work

At 8 AM, your colleague shoots you an email asking for the latest sales numbers, but you won’t have them until the afternoon. You snooze his email to 3 PM so you remember to get back to him once you can.

Loving the sound of Inbox? Send an email to inbox@google.com to request an invitation. I got mine within a week, so yours should arrive shortly. Let me know what you think—and if I missed any cool ways to use it!

More from the Muse:

MONEY retirement income

Why Workers Undervalue Traditional Pension Plans

Gold egg in nest in dark
Simon Katzer—Getty Images

Lifetime income is the hottest button in the retirement industry. So why do workers prefer a 401(k) to a traditional pension?

Despite many drawbacks, the 401(k) plan is our most prized employee benefit other than health care, new research shows. More than half of workers value this savings plan even above a traditional pension that guarantees income for life.

Some 61% of workers with at least $10,000 in investments say that, after health care, an employer-sponsored savings plan is their most important benefit, according to a Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor poll. This is followed by 23% of workers naming paid time off, 5% naming life insurance, and 4% naming stock options. Some 52% say they prefer a 401(k) plan to a traditional pension.

These findings come as new flaws in our 401(k)-based retirement system surface on a regular basis. Plans are still riddled with expenses and hidden fees, though in general expenses have been going down. Too many workers don’t contribute enough and lose out by borrowing from their plans or taking early distributions. Most people don’t know how to make a lump sum last through 20 or 30 years of retirement. And the common rule of withdrawing 4% a year is an imperfect strategy.

The biggest flaw of all may be that most 401(k) plans do not provide a guaranteed lifetime income stream. This issue has gotten loads of attention since the financial crisis, which laid waste to the dreams of millions of folks that had planned to retire at just the wrong moment. Many were forced to sell shares when the market was hitting bottom and suffered permanent, devastating losses.

Policymakers are now feverishly looking for seamless and cost-effective ways for retirees to convert part of their 401(k) plan to an insurance product like an immediate annuity, which would provide guaranteed lifetime income in addition to Social Security and give retirees a stable base to meet monthly expenses for as long as they live. Such a conversion feature would fill the income hole left by employers that have been all but eliminating traditional pensions since the 1980s.

With growing acknowledgement that lifetime income is critical, and largely missing from most workers’ plans, it seems odd that so many workers would value a 401(k) over a traditional pension. This may be because guaranteed income doesn’t seem so important while you are still at work or, as has lately been the case, the stock market is rising at a rapid pace. It may also be that the 401(k) is the only savings plan many young workers have ever known, and they value having control over their assets.

Seven in 10 workers have access to a 401(k) plan and 96% of those contribute regularly, the poll found. Some 86% enjoy an employer match and 81% say the match is very important in helping to save for retirement. The 401(k) is now so ingrained that 77% in the poll favor automatic enrollment and 66% favor automatic escalation of contributions. Four in 10 even want their employer to make age-appropriate investments for them, which speaks to the soaring popularity of automatically adjusting target-date mutual funds.

Read next: How Your Earnings Record Affects Your Social Security

TIME Video Games

Sony and Microsoft’s Newest Battlefield: China

Xbox One PlayStation 4
Attendees walk between signs for Sony PlayStation and Microsoft XBox on the first day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, California, June 11, 2013. Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images

A new front has opened in the console wars

The Chinese video game market is in for a major shake-up. Two of Sony’s mega-popular consoles, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, will be sold in China starting next month, the company announced Thursday. Sony’s move comes three months after Microsoft debuted its Xbox One in China.

Why did it take so long for Chinese gamers to get the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One? For 14 years, China banned video game consoles over fears violent games would lead to moral decay. That ban was just lifted in January, opening the door for Sony and Microsoft.

China’s ban didn’t totally eliminate consoles there — a grey market of smuggled and home-grown consoles has long existed there. But analysts say the rule caused China’s gaming market to be dominated by PC and mobile games. That means Sony and Microsoft now have to convince Chinese gamers they should buy a console, too.

Sony and Microsoft could be in for a windfall if they can turn China’s gamers into console jockeys. Lewis Ward, research director of gaming at IDC, said his firm found that China’s current console penetration rate is in the “single digits.” But given China’s 1.3 billion-person population, that low rate actually translates into millions of potential customers already — and that’s before the companies’ marketing machines kick into action.

“In PC [gaming], you have Internet games like Starcraft, Warcraft and Defense of the Ancients. So how [do Sony and Microsoft] win back those groups?” said Roger Sheng, a Shanghai-based consumer electronics research director at Gartner.

The answer lies not in hardware, but in software. Game selection will be biggest reason a Chinese gamer decides to buy a PlayStation 4 (RMB2,899, or $468), an Xbox One (RMB3,699, or $598) or any other game console, analysts said. But while China is letting foreign consoles through the front door, whether or not they can bring along Call of Duty or Titanfall is another question. Each game sold in the country has to win the hard-to-earn approval of China’s Ministry of Culture, which prohibits everything from blood to touchy political topics.

“[Xbox One’s and PlayStation 4’s] prices are similar enough — both of them are expensive for a typical consumer in China,” said Lisa Hanson, managing partner at Niko Partners, an Asian games research firm. “The tricky regulatory landscape is always the biggest barrier to success for foreign companies in China.”

The key for Sony and Microsoft, analysts say, is for them to build partnerships with Chinese game makers, who enjoy pre-existing relationships with regulators and whose games have already passed the lengthy approval process. For now, Sony and Microsoft can entice Chinese developers to port their pre-approved games to the Xbox and PlayStation. If consoles take off with Chinese gamers, local developers are likely to start making dedicated games for them.

When it comes to building relationships and selling games in China, Sony has a leg up on Microsoft: As a Japanese company, it’s geographically and culturally closer to China than its American rival Microsoft. That means many Chinese gamers are already more familiar with Sony’s titles, a big advantage for the company. Sony hasn’t said which PlayStation games it’s bringing to China, but Microsoft is so far only selling 10 — a sign it might be having trouble connecting to the Chinese audience. Sony is also leading in terms of developer partners, with 26 to Microsoft’s 13.

Ultimately, the small size of Microsoft’s current catalog combined with the Xbox’s higher price may give Sony the edge in the Chinese console wars, analysts said.

“[Xbox’s catalog size] is bordering on negligence — I assume Sony is going to have a significantly larger catalog than that,” Ward said. “Make no mistake, people buy consoles because of the games.”

TIME apps

France to Ban Uber’s Cheapest Service Next Year

Latest regulatory headache for the ride-sharing app

The French government announced plans Monday to ban Uber’s low-cost service next year, as Paris taxis clogged the capital in a “go slow” or “escargot” protest against the ride-sharing service.

The decision to ban UberPop came after a French court on Friday declined to ban Uber from operating in the country. But Uber’s victory was short-lived.

“Not only is it illegal to offer this service but additionally for the consumer there is a real danger,” French interior ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandlet told iTELE, questioning drivers’ inadequate insurance. Brandlet said that the ban will begin Jan. 1.

MORE: 5 places where Uber is fighting for its life right now

The decision comes as Uber is facing scrutiny and regulatory pushback around the world. It was banned in Spain, Thailand and parts of India—where an Uber driver was recently accused of raping a passenger — late last week.

Uber did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment, although it tweeted Monday morning that demand in France remains strong.

The company, which was fined 100,000 euros in France this October for fraudulent business practices, called some of the country’s attempts to ban the app “discriminatory” last month.

TIME Money

Amazon Pricing Glitch Loses U.K. Businesses Thousands

Some items were sold for as little as a penny

There’s more to being a successful retailer than keeping your buyers happy.

U.K. businesses that sell via Amazon.com’s local site are up in arms over a software glitch late Friday that led to their items being sold for as little as a penny. Some ended up out of pocket to the tune of up to $30,000.

The incident was down to a problem with a software tool developed by Derry-based RepricerExpress, which allows businesses to offer their goods on Amazon.co.uk.

The software automatically changes prices for the items on sale to guarantee that they stay competitive, but in this instance, it generated a self-reinforcing loop in which goods were automatically re-priced down to a penny.

One user complained on an Amazon bulletin board that stock worth $15,000 had been sold in this fashion within 40 minutes.

“Being they are not based in the US (sic) It takes away lots of options for us to recoup our loses,” the user wrote. “Last night I had to explain to my wife and 3, 4 and 5 year old that we could not take our trip to Disney in February.”

City AM cited one fancy dress company owner as saying her company had lost over $30,000 overnight.

Amazon said it was unable to cancel orders that had been dispatched and charged to customers, but another user on the bulletin board noted that it had been able to cancel those that weren’t slated for urgent shipping.

RepricerExpress chief executive Brendan Doherty said on the company’s website he was “truly sorry for the distress this has caused our customers,” and said Amazon had reassured him that sellers’ accounts wouldn’t be penalized as a result.

It wasn’t clear what degree of compensation would be available to the businesses that had suffered. RepricerExpress didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment from Fortune.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Australia

Uber Charged 4 Times Its Usual Rate During Sydney Hostage Siege

The company has now backtracked after customer outcry

Uber faced a new controversy Monday when it began charging customers four times the usual rate after a gunman took several hostages in downtown Sydney, Australia. Uber apps told customers they must pay a minimum of A$100 ($82) per ride.

Uber made the following statement on Twitter:

Following an outcry on social media, Uber Sydney changed tack and is currently offering free rides for passengers trying to leave the city “to help Sydneysiders get home safely.” The company said in a statement that it will refund fares charged for earlier journeys.

[Financial Times]

MORE: Central Sydney is in lockdown amid a developing hostage crisis

TIME deals

BC Partners Buying PetSmart for $8.7 Billion

The Petsmart store in Westminster
The Petsmart store in Westminster, Colo., is seen Nov. 18, 2014 Rick Wilking—Reuters

Pet retailer goes to a British bidder in the year’s largest U.S. private equity deal

London-based private equity firm BC Partners has won the auction for retailer PetSmart Inc. in an $8.7 billion deal. This would suggest that BC Partners made a last-minute move to best Apollo Global Management, which yesterday was reported to be the front-runner.

According to a press release, BC Partners will pay $83 per share for Phoenix-based PetSmart. That represents a 6.86% premium over PetSmart’s closing price on Friday, but a whopping 46.2% bump over its 2014 nadir on May 22.

Shares stayed fairly low until activist hedge fund Jana Partners disclosed on July 3 that it had amassed a 9.9% stake in Petsmart, and only continued to climb as the company’s board responded by launching an auction process led by J.P. Morgan. Jana had threatened to nominate its own slate of directors if it wasn’t satisfied with the results of the auction, although it’s hard to imagine that it would oppose $83 per share.

Longview Asset Management, PetSmart’s second-largest outside shareholder with a 9.02% position, will roll its shares into the company as part of the BC group. Also participating are several limited partners of BC Partners limited partners, including La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and StepStone Group.

The purchase price represents a 9.1x EBITDA multiple for the 12 months ending November 2, 2014. No word yet on specifics of the debt package, except that lenders will include Citigroup, Nomura, Jefferies, Barclays and Deutsche Bank. There has been recent Federal Reserve pressure on banks to keep leverage multiples below 6x EBITDA, and deals that surpass that threshold have had some difficulty getting syndicated.

In addition to Apollo, PetSmart reportedly received a joint bid from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

The retailer operates 1,387 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Social Media

Facebook Unfriends Microsoft Search Engine

Facebook offices in Paris, France in 2010.
Facebook offices in Paris, France in 2010. Tomas van Houtryve—VII for TIME

The social media behemoth may be angling in on Google-dominated web search

Facebook has officially dropped from its website search results from Bing, the search engine owned by Microsoft Corp.

The move comes on the heels of Facebook unveiling a new search tool on its own site, allowing the site’s 1.35 billion users to easily search for old Facebook activity on theirs and others’ pages, perhaps indicating an increased emphasis on the lucrative web search market currently dominated by Facebook rival Google.

Facebook’s decision was confirmed to Reuters on Friday by a company spokesperson. “We’re not currently showing web search results in Facebook Search because we’re focused on helping people find what’s been shared with them on Facebook,” a spokesperson said. “We continue to have a great partnership with Microsoft in lots of different areas.

[Reuters]

TIME movies

Sony Hack Reveals Concerns Over New Bond Movie’s Script

Sony execs were not happy with its third act

The email leak resulting from the Sony hack is so massive, it has even taken down the world’s favorite superspy.

According to emails released in the leak, which include insider details of the lives of celebrities and embarrassing exchanges between high-profile Hollywood executives, the third and final act of the new James Bond film Spectre was considered so bad by executives that one screenwriter after another was dispatched to rewrite the ending.

“For what it’s worth, I think first 100 pages are fantastic,” MGM executive Jonathan Glickman wrote on October 9, Defamer reports. It’s all downhill from there. ”You guys set me up for a let down on climax,” writes Glickman. “So I was not surprised.”

With a projected budget clocking in at the “mid $300ms”—as revealed by the leak—Spectre is set to be one of the most expensive movies ever made. No small wonder then that the filmmakers were scrambling to fix an ending that readers of the leaked script felt was difficult to follow and at times both nonsensical and bland.

“Also, there needs to be some kind of a twist rather than a series of water chases with guns,” reads one memo attached to the script in August.

If you want to ruin the movie for yourself or an annoying family member over the holidays, you can read more at Defamer.

TIME Economy

Americans Get Sunnier About the Economy

Ahmad Ali, Ghalzal Ali
Shoppers patronize a Target store just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty—AP

Economic optimism is at its highest level in almost eight years

Americans’ confidence in the economy is returning after years of doubt and pessimism, with economic output, jobs figures and retail sales in a strong upswing.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment rose to a near eight-year high in December, according to data released on Friday, similar to levels seen in boom years like 1996 and 2004, and the best since January 2007.

The increased optimism is a result of strength in many sectors of the economy. Economists expect a sharp drop in gasoline prices to help boost the economy in the coming months. The federal government forecasts the price of a gallon of gas will drop to $2.60 nationwide next year, compared with $3.37 this year, translating to greater spending rather than savings—particularly for low-income Americans.

Reasons for concern remain, including sluggish wage growth and the plight of the long-term unemployed. The drop in oil prices is also rattling the stock market, with the Dow dropping more than 300 points on Friday.

But the most recent jobs report was promising, with 321,000 jobs added to payrolls around the country in November—the biggest monthly increase in three years—holding the unemployment rate at 5.8%. The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.9% in the third quarter of 2014, and in the second quarter GDP grew 4.6%.

“Everything is pointing in the right direction for the consumer,” chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics Paul Ashworth said, according to Bloomberg. “We expect a pretty good run for consumption growth in the fourth quarter. It is a big boost for the economy.”

Americans are finally feeling the effects of the improving economy. According to the Reuters poll’s director, Richard Curtin, more consumers had good news than bad news when asked about the economy than in any month since 1984. But the first quarter of 2014 still saw a deep contraction in the economy of 2.6%, partially due to an unusually cold winter in many parts of the country.

The improving sentiment is likely to further boost the economy and could translate into higher worker wages and more consumer purchasing.

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