Google has begun rolling out a new Priority Inbox beta system to existing Gmail account holders.
The new functionality is an extension of Google’s email spam filtering system but further extended to attempt to discover which emails are important and which are not.
"People tell us all that time that they’re getting more and more mail and often feel overwhelmed by it all," wrote Google spokesman Doug Aberdeen on the Gmail blog. "We know what you mean—here at Google we run on email," he added.
"Our inboxes are slammed with hundreds, sometimes thousands of messages a day—mail from colleagues, from lists, about appointments and automated mail that’s often not important. It’s time-consuming to figure out what needs to be read and what needs a reply. Today, we’re happy to introduce Priority Inbox (in beta)—an experimental new way of taking on information overload in Gmail. "
Using similar techniques as learning from Spam, the Google system aims to try learn which the habits of the Gmail user so important messages are moved to the top rather than the usual chronological system.
"In a way, Priority Inbox is like your personal assistant, helping you focus on the messages that matter without requiring you to set up complex rules," said Aberdeen. The new functionality has already appeared on some accounts and will roll out further over the coming week.
Google produced an animated video to explain what Priority Inbox is about.