Mailbox earns its edge with snazzy gesturing (think the Clear to do app) and what is essentially a simplistic (but incredibly well thought out) folder system. When emails arrive you can choose to archive, delete, or file them away in what is essentially a to do list or or a ‘hit me with this email later” option.
Like most great ideas well executed, Mailbox seems simple and intuitive the second you’ve filed away an email or two. The icon sets are great, and on the whole this is a safely superior way to field and prioritize emails. The intuitive gestures feel as pleasing and delightful as iOS felt in its early days, but as it turns out I’m still left wanting more from Mailbox app. (They plan on offering a premium plan in the future.)
As far as I can tell, notifications are either on or off. This means if you’re like me and field 200+ emails per day, Mailbox notifications basically flood your phone constantly. Instead, I’d like to see the ability to grab a time delayed list (e.g a notification every 15 minutes or half hour).
Another potential solution would be to automatically determine (or let users manually determine) which emails actually warrant a notification. Notifications are great but with this kind of inflexibility I’ll probably end up turning these Mailbox notifications off completely.
Another small but crucial aspect that affects my reading experience some is the fact that when I’m reading longer emails, the buttons of the interface always seem to impede on my space. I understand the need for quick access to action, but I wish there was a kind of full screen mode that let users bask in the content if email without the constant reminder of their quest for inbox zero.
The brings me to one final point. I found it interesting that Mailbox chose to display the total number of emails in your inbox as opposed to the number of unread messages like a majority of mail clients (including Apple’s own default mail client). This subtle difference (while somewhat of an initial shock) epitomizes Mailbox app’s purpose for existence. If you want that notification number to drop you almost have to use Mailbox’s reminder, folder, and to do features.
I look forward to seeing if Mailbox app can revolutionize email and now that I have the iOS version in my hands I can hardly wait for the desktop iteration. (How they’ll translate the standout gestures to a point and click interface is of definite interest. In my opinion the Clear to do app is half the app on desktop just because you lose the gestures of iOS).
I’m optimistic that Mailbox app can turn me into an email machine, but still a little concerned. Will this shiny package fix my email inefficiencies or are these new to dos and folders simply new hideaway points of procrastination designed to replace my inbox list today? Only time will tell, and I wish Mailbox aka Orchestra the best every step of the way.
P.S. For Those Wondering When They’ll Get Access To Mailbox
A lot of people are buzzing about the reservation system and how long it might take before they can get their hands on Mailbox App. I entered the queue at about 900 and on launch, they were letting in about 20 people per hour. This rate of entrance has already accelerated significantly since yesterday’s launch, and it seems now they’re letting in someone new every couple seconds. That equates to 1,800 people per hour, so brace yourself. With server capacity growing exponentially you probably won’t have to wait long.