David Precht / Posted 4.18.2013
Mailbox: It could be better
I first heard about Mailbox as the “fast, fun mobile inbox that puts email in its place.” So I downloaded the app to get started. But you don’t get started immediately. Oh no. You’re put into a queue, given a reservation behind hundreds of thousands of people. That sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not.
So I waited three weeks.
It makes sense on one level why it took me so long to finally gain access to Mailbox. I mean, they’re using a cloud-based email structure, where instead of having emails hit your phone directly, they’re going to the cloud and securely transmitted to your phone. To free up the server space in their cloud takes some time, especially with the sheer number of people who seem to be using the app.
Soon enough I received notification that the app was ready for me. Finally. But then the real frustration began.
Gmail 2.0, perhaps?
Mailbox is an email app designed for people who favor the Gmail model of email. It allows users to look at emails on the fly, organize them easily and – the real selling point – decide when you’d like to actually deal with the email. Alerts and snooze and achieving are the name of the game and it’s clearly the kind of app for someone who receives emails frequently.
Mailbox is also the kind of app for people who are extremely well organized or have a desire to become better organized. I’m the kind of organized where I read and answer emails readily, many of which languish in my inbox for weeks or months.
I’ve spoken with several friends who use the app regularly. They swear by it, tweeting claims like “I am a @Mailbox evangelist. Changed the way I handled eMail. 1st change in my habits in 15 years. No malarkey.”
It was those kinds of testimonials that drove me to downloading the app in the first place, along with the slick design and promise to have all emails pushed immediately instead of having to us the Mail app on my iPhone.
Clean, clear and under control
The email interface is clean and simple. The task bar has three buttons -- a clock, an inbox and a check mark, which correspond with: to do later, in queue, and done.
Swipe emails to the left gently (about half way), until the interface is yellow and you can “snooze” the messages. You can then specify just when you’d like to revisit them – later today, this evening, tomorrow, this weekend, next week, in a month, some day, and at a specific date of your choosing.
Swipe the email all the way from left to right and it lights up in sepia tones. Now you can send it to a designated list. The list options include "To Buy", "To Read", "To Watch," or you can create your own lists.
Swipe gently to the right and the interface turns green. This will send it to the archive. Swipe it all the way from right to left, a red “X” appears and then email is deleted.
Once you've cleared everything from your inboxes, you're rewarded with the message "You're all done" and an image with the Mailbox logo.
You have 520 messages, in no particular order
Once I set Mailbox up I noticed pulsing message notifying me that I had 520 emails waiting, but I really didn’t. I’d read all those. But because they were still in my inbox, the app assumed that I was lazy or didn’t understand how email worked (maybe that’s true), so it suggested that I archive my emails.
That seemed fair.
Soon everything was archived. Everything. Oh God, I’ve lost everything, I thought.
So, I went into the tab dedicated to my professional emails, now archived, hit the little check mark at the top of the screen to see those emails, and at the top of that list was an email from 2010. Ugh.
As I scrolled down I found that my emails were all there, luckily, but in no desirable order. Oh good, that’s one positive and several negatives.
Zero inbox, tons of work
Mailbox is built around the philosophy of a "zero inbox." Which is all fine and good for incoming emails, but it means that I’m actually going to have to work to properly organize the inbox mess. Ugh.
The whole point of me getting Mailbox was so I wouldn’t have to work to at organizing my inbox.