The dreaded fight to get to Inbox Zero just got a bit easier with this newly released email app by a company called Orchestra. The name of the app is Mailbox, and it’s currently available exclusively on the iPhone for all Gmail and/or Google Apps users.
User Interface & Gestures
Mailbox offers a super sleek user interface, with a lot of it being controlled by the swipe of a finger. A short swipe of a cell to the right will allow you to archive the message, however, if you swipe a cell to the right a bit farther, you will be able to send the message to the trash. If you do a short swipe to the left, you can have Mailbox do something with the message later, such as remind you of it later in the day (you can configure the default amount of time it should wait to remind you) or the next day, etc. A longer swipe to the left allows you to add a message to a particular list (you can create your own lists, too).
The app’s icon badge is different than most email clients badges, it shows the amount of emails that are sitting in your inbox, whether they be read or unread. The idea is that you want to be at Inbox Zero, so ideally there should be no badge at all. This took a bit of getting used to at first, because my initial thought process was that I just wanted to know when I had a new or unread email in my inbox. In order to feel more “at home” I changed an option in the setting to have it show a badge of “1″ if I had a new email, which I ended up hating even more because I could have had three or four new emails, but it would just have a badge with “1″ on it. I’d love to see that changed. Nonetheless, once I started to get into the mindset of Inbox Zero, I changed the setting back to show the total number of emails in my inbox and got to work on getting that number down to zero.
Send, Receive, Push Notifications, and Accounts
The app allows you to add multiple (Gmail/Google Apps) accounts, however as far as I can tell there is no way to reorganize the order in which the accounts are listed (at least not yet). So if you have a particular account you wanted listed first, add it last. Sending email is super easy, just click on the compose icon and you’re on your way. It’s a simple email box, just type in your message and you can add photos (either by taking one or from your camera roll) too.
Your signature is stored in the settings and can be configured from there as well, it doesn’t show up in the email composition box, however it will be added to your email.
Mailbox also supports push notifications, so you can easily have the app tell you when you receive new emails.
As I mentioned somewhat before, Mailbox definitely made me rethink the way I use email. Once I had that icon badge showing how many emails were in my inbox, I decided I had to do something about it and started to archive everything except my unread email, in an effort to hit Inbox Zero. As of right now, I currently have three emails sitting in my inbox, which I plan to get to very soon.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, that must have been a real pain to archive everything in your inbox one by one. And you’re right, it would have been if it weren’t for another really nice feature of Mailbox, the app offers the ability to quickly archive everything in your inbox for you, so you don’t have to manually do it. Once you hit the bottom of your inbox in Mailbox, you can click the “need help” button and can archive everything with one tap of your finger.
In my experience, the “archive all” feature worked well, however, I think I might have choked up the app when I attempted to hit the load more email button several times and then tried to archive all of it. When I checked on my desktop, it appeared to have archived all but a handful of the emails, so I did those manually through Google Apps on the web.
Additionally, I went ahead and reconfigured Apple Mail to work better with Mailbox by following the step by step instructions the Mailbox team provides to get the most out of the app (and your desktop email clients). This is something I would highly recommend you do.
Mailbox is not your traditional email app, it takes some time to get used to, because it is different than what most people are probably accustomed to. However, don’t let that stop you from using it, you need to give it a few days of solid usage before making your judgement of whether it’s for you or not.
Some people have said that Mailbox will revolutionize the way you use email, and I agree (to an extent). It’s a great email app that automates a lot of the process, and its definitely helped me reclaim my inbox, but don’t expect it to start replying to your email’s yet. Well, maybe in the future.