Thoughts on Mailbox After a Week of Use (Video)

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You might have heard of Mailbox: an iPhone-only app that claims to change the way we use email. Even if you want to use it right now, you can’t, unless you were among the first to reserve your spot in line. If you download the app today, you’re looking at an 800,000 person line. Orchestra (parent company of Mailbox) is doing this to ensure that their servers can handle the processing of millions of emails; Mailbox does some server-side action to compress your emails, strip out unnecessary stuff, and push it to your phone in an attempt to provide a fast email experience. And boy, does it work. Mailbox is faster than the Gmail app on the iPhone app, and most likely faster than the stock email app. It’s a joy to use.

Beyond being an all-around good email app that’s fast and clutter-free, Mailbox has a very important feature: it treats your inbox as a task list, allowing you to defer emails into the future. And that’s a great idea, because it’s probably pretty common that you think: “I need to action on this email, but not until [insert date/time here]”. Mailbox lets you defer emails for later action such that it disappears from your inbox, and enters it again at the specified date and time. If you play your cards right, you can achieve “Inbox Zero” where all of your messages have been actioned on. It’s a pretty good feeling to see no messages in your inbox.

But, Mailbox isn’t without its quirks. Here are some test notes:

  • To really get the most out of the app, be sure to Archive all messages in your inbox. Start from a clean slate.
  • It’s frustrating that you can only defer emails on the app. Meaning, if you use Gmail on a PC, you can’t dismiss an email until a later date. But the reverse is true: if you defer an email on your phone, it will leave your Gmail inbox and come back later. Orchestra is working on other apps, including one for the desktop/web and Android. Mailbox badly needs other clients to fulfill its potential.
  • Mailbox is Gmail-only right now. It does indeed have a unified inbox (which can’t be said about the official Gmail iOS app).
  • I’ve found that email triage via the Mailbox app is best (for me) at two times of day: morning and night. In the morning, I wake up to well over a dozen emails, many of which I can deal with later in the day, some of which I need to action on right when I get into the office. I can use Mailbox’s defer option to do this. Then, at night, I have some left over emails in my inbox. Again, I can use Mailbox’s defer option to specify when I need to take action on the remaining messages.
  • You can use Mailbox on the iPad, though you’ll be using the smaller iPhone version. If you are jailbroken, you can use Retina iPad to boost the text quality if you use the iPhone app at 2x.

You can get Mailbox in the Apple app store (iTunes link).

Are you using Mailbox? What do you think of it?

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman
Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.