My thoughts on Mailbox
Mailbox, which just debuted a few days ago, is far from being feature complete. With that being said, the gesture-based mail app has definitely captured my attention since its teaser page was launched in the summer. Over the past couple of days, I’ve put together some thoughts on the app and where I hope it goes.
Setup and Functionality
After signing in with your Gmail credentials, the tutorial you are greeted with is interactive, well designed, and is simple to understand Some seem to think having a tutorial in the beginning of your app means that it wasn’t well-designed or it isn’t intuitive, but I have to disagree when it comes to Mailbox.
Like many other email users (pre-Mailbox), I have taken the approach of archiving mail that I have read, but don’t want to necessarily delete. The mail in my inbox usually is something I do not want to forget about and archive, but I also do not want to take care of it right away. This is where Mailbox implements its unique feature, the Snooze/Later section. I can swipe and be asked when the next time I’d like to be reminded about the email. Options include Later Today, This Evening, Tomorrow, This Weekend, Next Week, In a Month, and Someday (which can be any measure of time). Selecting any of these options will take the email out of my inbox and visually get me to inbox zero. It’s a really clever concept.
Concerns, Tips and Ideas
After using Mailbox, I have some concerns, tips and ideas that I would like to lay out. The first thing I noticed when browsing my archived mail is that Mailbox has a limit on how much mail it pulls from Gmail’s servers, so if you’re searching for an old email, it only accesses the most recently archived messages. I raised this concern on Twitter and CEO of Orchestra, Gentry Underwood responded that “cloud search is on the feature shortlist.” Not only was I impressed by how fast I was contacted, but the fact that the CEO of the company responded to me really shows how much they care about this app and its success. Another feature of Gmail that I use frequently is Starring emails. Within Mailbox, you can star emails, but you can not see those emails grouped in its own section. Hopefully this is something they are also considering to add in a future update.
Labels (which are called Lists in the app) are a big feature in Gmail, but when you tap on the three horizontal bars and look at your email hierarchy, none of your labels can be found. It would be nice if they explained the way this works clearer. There is a way to get your labels shown within the Lists section, though.
If you navigate to the desktop browser Gmail interface, you’ll notice a label with nested labels called Mailbox. Basically, you can manage your labels and tell them to be nested under the Mailbox label. Why they do not pull those in automatically, I’m not really sure. It might have something to do with their own server interaction. Once you’ve nested your labels, you will have access to them within the app.
Mailbox works well
Mailbox is a functional and beautiful app. They launched on time as promised and I’m sure there were many features they wanted to add. If you’re still waiting in the queue for access to the app, it’s definitely worth the wait. An iPad app and support for other types of email providers is something I would like to see soon, but either way Mailbox does not disappoint. It gets me excited for what the app can grow into.