There is an app that comes along once in a while that, for whatever reason, generates an enormous amount of interest prior to launch, either through clever marketing, or simply because it looks incredible in pre-release screenshots and videos. Mailbox, a brand new app for dealing with e-mail, was launched on the iOS App Store yesterday to just such acclaim, and a significant amount of column inches, and indeed Twitter inches, have already been devoted to the app.
The app, developed by Orchestra, utilizes a queuing system in an effort to avoid problems that can occur with a massively popular roll-out of a new online platform. This system is controlled by advance reservations, which have been available since December, and has proved to be massively popular with hundreds of thousands of potential users registering to use the app. Mailbox is gradually working it’s way through the list, slowly opening up more and more spots to users who pre-registered. The biggest question is surely, does the app live up to the pre-release hype?
The answer is emphatically positive. The app subscribes to the ‘Inbox 0′ theory of e-mail management, in that you should never have dozens, or even hundreds of e-mails simply sitting in your inbox, waiting to be filed or dealt with. It does this in a very nifty user interface, with only four gestures needed to deal with each an every e-mail. A small swipe to the right archives a message, a large swipe permanently deletes it. A large swipe to the left adds the message to a list, a small swipe to the left brings up a ‘remind me’ box with various options such as ‘later today’, ‘tomorrow’ or ‘next week’.
The reminder system, and indeed the UI as a whole, is the highlight of the app and is implemented in such an incredibly simple yet powerful manner making the Mailbox app perhaps the most powerful e-mail manager to date. The app Settings are also easily accessible with just a couple of taps and are well laid out.
There are some limitations however. Currently the app only works with GMail and I can imagine that it’s going to take a tremendous amount of effort to get it working on Exchange email systems. There’s also small features like e-mail aliases e.g. sending an e-mail from a different address, but the developers of the app say that feature is on their list for future releases of Mailbox.
Hopefully, there will be some rapid development in the context of being able to use Mailbox on other e-mail platforms. The app is so good that it needs to be experienced by as many people as possible and the only way to do that is to make it fully platform independent. The concept of ‘Inbox 0′ is an excellent, not necessarily novel, idea and Mailbox is the finest example yet of an app in which you manage your e-mail, rather than letting your e-mail manage you.
Mailbox is available free from the iOS App Store now.