Mailbox: iOS app review


After waiting weeks to get into the exclusive club that is Mailbox I am unable to continue using the app.

Where Mailbox excels:
The single action UI is brilliant and innovative. It allows me to do the two or three most common actions with a single swipe. These include Archive and Delete but also a Postpone and Add to List. More on the latter two later.

One click is one click and only one click. That is all Mailbox saved you, is one click. But it’s one click per email. This is the primary reason why I like Mailbox and wanted it to succeed as my mail client of choice.

Where Mailbox is OK:
The workflow that Mailbox preaches is one that I am not convinced is the best way to manage email. The incremental features that Mailbox offers are all about postponing action. “No time now? Do it later by either Postponing it or adding it to a ‘needs action’ list. Don’t feel like it now? Do the same.”

This paradigm may sound familiar, it’s very similar to procrastination. I know it’s not the same since the intention is the user is being proactive about postponing the action as opposed to simply letting the action be delayed.

It is a slippery slope in my book and one that will end up not actually changing people’s bad email organization habits. It will just mean more gets pushed downstream to a later time.

Where Mailbox fails:
Search. I use search within my email management a lot. One of the examples of how it is failing is this; I often send myself files or links or copies of stuff I want to make sure I have record of. In this case it was PDF versions of my tax documents. I sent them from my work email to my personal email so Gmail recognizes it as being sent from me. The subject of this email is “Tax documents”. When I search for that string or any sub part of that string it find other emails but not that email.

I’ve given it a couple days to possibly complete the indexing process but that doesn’t seem to help.

After this trial I will go back to using Google’s Gmail app even though it too has its flaws. The Gmail app has a beautiful UI, better than Mailbox’s and has perfect synchronization with Gmail. Things I would like to have in the Gmail app are the single-action interaction a la Mailbox, click on phone numbers to call, click on contact to go into the Google Contact manager (which doesn’t exist).

That’s my opinion. I am a person though who has always kept a tidy inbox and don’t get overwhelmed by email so perhaps I am not the targets ruler for Mailbox.

I wish them luck. Thanks for reading.

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