Mailbox: the free iPhone app that will change how you use email

view gallery VIEW GALLERY
5.00

On the Buttons: David Phelan reviews a revelation in email for iPhone users

Mailbox is a free iPhone app that aims to change the way you use email. It's from Orchestra, the guys who made Orchestra To-Do, a sophisticated reminder list app for the iPhone. It's pretty good, - though personally I'm still devoted to the colourful, intuitive and perfectly configured Clear (iPhone, £1.49).

Click here for the step-by-step visual guide to the app.

Orchestra realised that plenty of people use email as a rather poor to-do list, with scores or even hundreds of messages sitting unanswered to act as reminders of unfinished business.

As organisational guru David Allen (best known for his time management book and method Getting Things Done, which partially inspired the app)  points out, an overflowing inbox is deeply inefficient and it's important to scuttle the unimportant stuff away to stop it from distracting you from the crucial bits.

The most efficient way to deal with an email, and many other kinds of communication is to look at it only once, deciding then to action, save or delete the message.

Mailbox recognises the importance and – dare I say it? – the beauty of 'inbox zero' where there are no emails at all sitting there to make you feel guilty that you haven't dealt with them.

So when you look at your inbox onscreen, Mailbox lets you swipe to sort it. A quick swipe right and emails that you don't need but shouldn't be deleted are swept into an archive, symbolised by a green tick. A slow swipe right, however, and the tick turns into a red X, telling you that email has been deleted.

But what about the emails you don't want to look at right now, don't want forever and can't just get rid of? Mailbox has an elegant solution with its snooze function which makes the message vanish and reappear later.

A short swipe left invokes the snooze function. Do this and a grid of options appears so you can decide how long before the email is back. Choose from later today, this evening, tomorrow, this weekend, next week, in a month and so on. Each has a cheery icon, though the fact that the "this weekend" option is signified by sunshine shows that this is not a British-developed app.

There's one more option – a long swipe left lets you put the email into a list. Default options are to read, to watch and to buy, though you can create more.

You can do all these swipes without even opening an email, reading the first two lines of the message in the inbox list. Of course you can also open them and assign a destination from inside the emails, too.

Getting through your inbox suddenly becomes a simple and very speedy process. And then there's the joy of reaching an empty mailbox, signified by the app displaying a photo – this changes on a daily basis – and the legend "You're all done".

This is a fantastic app, though there are some downsides – mostly to do with the fact that it won't work for everyone. For a start, it's iPhone-only – there's no Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry version for now. Second, it only works with Gmail accounts, though you can work with multiple Gmail addresses. It's a shame there's no me.com email compatibility as so many iPhone users have one of these - Orchestra says it's working on this.

Third, you need to be patient. The app works on a reservation system. Only when you reach the front of the queue can you start using Mailbox. When I joined there were hundreds of thousands of people in front of me – the app shows a countdown with the number of people in front of and behind you. It counts down at around 10 people per minute, though the team hope to accelerate this soon.

Not getting it yet is the biggest disappointment but go with it. Reserve your place now and wait your turn. This is a remarkable app that can really make a difference to the way you use email. For sure, it will be copied by others, but for now it's unique. And highly desirable.

What are you waiting for? Oh yes, that's right, to get to the front of the line.

 

Follow @David Phelan
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

    Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Designer

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Kent based design consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Gazetteer Consultant

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work for an ...

    Day In a Page

    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate