Mailbox App – Put Email In Its Place

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One of the hot new apps to hit the Apple App Store is Mailbox. I have been waiting for this app for a few months and it finally arrived two days ago. It is built by the great designers that created Orchestra.

There are very few apps that I get really excited about. Most apps I will never use, but every once in a while an app comes along that shows great, if not revolutionary promise. I was kind of hoping that Mailbox was that kind of app. Mailbox is suppose to give us an advantage over the onslaught of email and give us a fighting chance.

Currently Mailbox is only available to a small number of people who requested an early invite and they are seeing a request rate of over 500,000 people. They are limiting their usage in an attempt to not crash their servers. I can respect that as there have been plenty of apps that I have attempted to use that were a nightmare as they just didn’t work or their server bogged down. I guess I was a lucky one and had a reservation number of 1,900. They released the app on Thursday and I found myself constantly looking to see where I stood. It started out pretty slow and the numbers would only drop by 50 or so every time I checked. But overnight and into the morning the numbers went much faster and around 9:00am yesterday morning I was able to log in.

The app itself is incredibly well designed. I may be a little prejudice, but I really love apps that are clean and look nice. The simpler and more efficient the better I think. This app is all about getting you the information you need as quickly as possible and let you deal with it just as fast. I like how the subject line is bigger and bolder than anything else. To me that is more important than where the email came from. I can almost automatically tell if this is something I need to act on or if I can put it off. There have been a number of blog posts about Mailbox and what it is about. I just want to post a few photos and give my opinion of the whole package.

While currently it is limited to gmail accounts only, I have found that I really enjoy using the app. I, unfortunately, will not be able to use it for my primary email app, as I have 6-7 email addresses that I use on a regular basis, and this would mean that I would have to use two emails clients. Not exactly what I am trying to do.

One of the biggest benefits is how quickly you can move through your inbox. The inbox is one of the banes on my existence. There are many times I won’t open my inbox until around 10am, just so I don’t get caught up in someone else’s emergency. Their emergency’s are of no concern to me.

I have had a pretty good system for gmail (my company’s email) for quite a while. I use labels to create a priority system that makes my email a little more manageable. This system is really pretty easy. When I open my email I will go through all of the emails and classify them in one of these four categories, minus the emails I automatically delete.

1 – Now
2 – Next
3 – Soon
4 – Someday

I don’t act on any email. I open it and rate it in importance. If it is something I need to take care of immediately, I place it in the “1 – Now” label/folder. Everything else gets rated in importance. The priority will of course constantly change, but this helps me maintain a zero inbox. If I am constantly trying to answer all of my emails, I would never get anything done.

Mailbox has Lists, which are similar to gmails labels/folders, but they are independent of gmails labels. Personally I wish that they were one and the same. I don’t want to have to maintain multiple lists and as Mailbox is not available online, you end up having your original labels as well as a label for Mailbox. I wish these could be synchronized.

As I have only been using Mailbox for a little over one day and they handle email a little different than most email clients do I am still adjusting to it. Such as the Later features. It is very interesting that I can just send an email to reappear Later, This Evening, Tomorrow, etc. Perhaps this will take care of my label and rating system that I wrote about above. If it is something that I can do right now I will leave it in the Inbox, otherwise I blast that email into the future. Actually, the more I think about it the more I like the idea.

Using the Later system would have been very beneficial when I was in San Francisco last week. I was receiving a lot of emails that I needed to deal with, but I was not capable of doing anything about them. Instead of leaving them in the Inbox or putting them in a folder (which I did), it would have been very convenient to just have them reappear when I got back into the office on Monday morning.

I will be curious to see what comes with Mailbox. I think they are on to something that is really great, but I need to be able to use all of my email accounts, as well as use it online and on my iPad. Once these things come to pass, I have little doubt that this would be my email client.

Below are a few random screen shots of the iPhone app and the tutorial they run through once you get signed up.

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