• I've Deleted Apps You Haven't Even Used Yet | The Mailbox Review


    One of the more hyped App launches in recent memory has been for the new iPhone email client, Mailbox. While many of you are probably still waiting in the queue, I'm sad to say I gave it my best shot, but it just didn't do it for me.

    Mailbox is a very pretty app with a simple idea - to turn your Inbox into a todo list using the principals of "Inbox Zero". I've been a big fan of the Inbox Zero concept for years now, so it seemed a natural fit. But Mailbox had reliability issues that let down an otherwise awesome little app.

    The interface is simple and playful, and for the first few days of using the app I found myself happily sliding email left and right to mark as done, or mark to follow up. It was a blazingly fast way to get through my inbox, and oddly satisfying.

    But for all it's super fast gestures, I was finding Mailbox was getting in my way more often than it was saving me time. Like the iPhone Gmail app, Mailbox would reload itself every time it launched, adding a frustrating few seconds to the job at hand.


    That which doesn't Matter, Let it Slide

    When it comes to notifications, Mailbox only has two options - immediate push, or no notification. I prefer something like every half hour with email, so I can stay on top of my list, but i'm not bugged every second. But without that option, I switched on push and my little phone was bugging me constantly. Not something I wanted from an App that is supposed to free my calendar to, um, help me take up bushwalking.

    One major issue with the service is it relies on hosting all your email on it's servers, to allow push. It's this reason you're probably still in a queue, the developers didn't want to fail whale your email but overloading the servers.

    Now I don't really care about the security implications here, although i should, but I did care about reliability. I noticed one morning that an email I'd sent to another address had not gone through in over an hour. So i sent a few more emails to test, and they all were locked in some delivery black hole. A few hours later, the emails appeared, but there was no indication they'd been delayed.

    In the end, I'd rather there be an option to just use Gmail over IMAP, without Push, and without their servers involved.

    Another little annoyance is you can't use any of your current Gmail labels as To-do lists. I'm not a huge label user, I tend to only create labels for trips overseas or large projects - something where I want many different emails to be placed together, but it was still a pain in the butt to move everything from a Gmail label "NZ" to "[Mailbox] NZ". It feels like the limitation is there to teach end users to keep Lables to a minimum, but dammit, I already do that!

    Still, these To-do lists are really just labels, so they're available on the web, and in other IMAP clients, making the app easy to use with your current Gmail workflow.


    Your Mailbox Lists on Gmail and Mail.app

    In the end, my complaints are all teething issues that I'm sure will be addressed with updates to the app. I haven't deleted the app just yet (actually I did, and then had to email support to reinstall it without re-joining the queue!) but I've switched off notifications now and haven't used it for weeks. But I'll keep an eye on it, because i want it to succeed. Although, possibly like the company itself, I think I'd rather Apple just buy them and integrate some of the ideas into the native Mail.app.
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