Mailbox: the free iPhone app that will change how you use email
On the Buttons: David Phelan reviews a revelation in email for iPhone users
Monday 04 March 2013
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 & Style blogs
The high-powered dream team trying to create a stiletto shoe as comfy as a trainer
How Old Do I Look: Microsoft’s super advanced age-guessing app is terrible at guessing how old celebrities are, too
Apple MacBook review: preposterously thin and extravagantly attractive, this is the best-designed laptop Apple has ever made
UK skin cancer statistics 'shocking' as sun-worshippers ignore the dangers of exposure
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As your knowledge grows you wil...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Cloud ...