Internet

Want an invite to Google's Inbox? Now's the time to act

Google opens up an invitation-request window, but it's brief.

Formerly available only by limited invitation, Google Inbox can be in your hand if you act fast. Josh Miller/CNET

If you've been itching to give Google Inbox a spin but have been held back by the lack of an invitation to try the free email app, now's the time to act.

The Web giant opened up an invitation-request window Wednesday in which prospective users will have one hour to request an invite to the app, which Google unveiled last month. Gmail users who submit a request for an invitation to inbox@google.com by 4 p.m. PT will receive an emailed invitation within an hour, Google announced in a tweet Wednesday. The company had previously limited the number of invitations it was sending out.

Developed by the Gmail team, Inbox is intended to coexist with Google's flagship email product, not replace it. For example, it groups similar types of messages, and automatically highlights key information such as flight itineraries and event information. It comes as competitors, including Apple and file-sharing company Dropbox, have released or updated products aimed at making it easier to find online needles in a haystack.

A key Inbox feature called Assists integrates real-time updates from the Web directly into email, while the Bundles option automatically groups similar messages, such as receipts, and allow you to swipe them all away at once. Inbox also integrates Google Now reminders and lets you create your own reminders.

The app is available on smartphones running Google's Android operating system or Apple's iOS, and on the Web -- but only in Google's Chrome browser for now.