Users can have up to five categorized tabs

Google is making the process of checking email a little less painful with a new tab-style inbox for Gmail

Itamar Gilad, Product Manager at Google, announced the new method of sorting emails today. It allows users to separate incoming emails into as many as five different tabs according to categories.

Some of the categories include social, where emails from Facebook and Twitter belong; promotions, where the Groupon and LivingSocial emails would go; updates, where emails like confirmations, bills and statements would be sent, and forums, where forum discussion emails belong. 

The user still has a primary inbox for all emails that don't fall into those categories. The idea is to help users find important emails or those from friends/family quicker than sifting through one, cluttered inbox.

To get the new tab-style inbox, click the gear icon in Gmail on your desktop/laptop and choose "configure inbox." From there you choose which of the tabs you'd like to appear in your inbox and Gmail will sort them for you. 
The tabs receive live notification updates that appear in the tab’s title bar.

Tabs can be configured in the Android app as well, which will be available in the next couple of days. An iOS app is "coming soon," according to Google. 

"It became obvious to us over time that this notion that the inbox was more of your master than your servant was becoming more widespread," said Alex Gawley, product manager for Gmail. "It wasn’t just the people receiving hundreds of emails a day — more regular users were starting to feel stressed out by their inbox.
"We thought, this might be a really interesting way for us to help regular users take control of their inbox again."

Source: Official Gmail Blog

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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