The default Mail client for the iPhone has become in my opinion outdated, or it’s certainly not as advanced as the hardware it resides in. Mail is not fun to navigate, and its latest features don’t provide much of a productivity boost. But the just released popular third-party email client, Mailbox (Free), may make Apple’s Mail client feel like a third-rate piece of software.
The much anticipated Mailbox was finally released in the iTunes App Store, with over 200,000 users waiting — on launch day — for their reservation to be filled so they could finally begin using the service. (By they way, reservations are still being taken, so sign-up here to receive an access code.)
If you’re looking for a mail client that will help you get your inbox to zero on a daily basis, Mailbox may very well do the trick. Mailbox is more about swiping and managing emails than it is about tapping and deleting them. (One small caveat, however, Mailbox only works with Gmail accounts for now. The app’s developers say support for other IMAP services will be added later.)
Archiving and Deleting Messages
Whereas Apple’s Mail client requires you to swipe and tap in order to delete messages, Mailbox enables you to use a simple left or right swipe to delete, archive, or save messages for later review. The swiping features may feel a little tricky at first, but the colors and icons should make them easy to remember. To archive a message, you swipe right until the green bar with a white check icon appears.
If you want to delete a message, you do what’s called a long swipe, which means you drag further to the right until the red bar with an “x” appears. All your archived emails can be reviewed by tapping the Check icon in the menu bar of Mailbox.
Also on the archived list, you can swipe left on a message to put it back into the Inbox list, or do a long swipe left to “snooze” the message for later.
When you only have a handful of messages in your inbox, Mailbox allows you to perform batch actions on a group of them. So you can actually delete, archive, or snooze a group of messages using one simple short or long swipe—left or right.
Mailbox’s most advanced feature is that it can be used as a bona fide to-do list for your email messages. When you swipe left on the message, a yellow bar with the check appears, and when you lift your finger, a set of options appear for “snoozing” the selected message.
With Apple’s Mail, you can only flag messages to be reviewed later, and all your flagged messages get put in the same folder. With Mailbox you can choose to snooze a message, for example, for later in the day, the next day, next week, someday, or pick a date. They’re sort of like Smart Mailboxes in Apple’s Mail, or filtering messages in Gmail.
All “snoozed” messages will re-appear in your Inbox on the date and/or time it was assigned. You can also access your saved messages by tapping on the “later” icon in the menu bar of Mailbox.
And incidentally, if your Gmail inbox is chock-full of emails, Mailbox will help you “get to zero” by either batch archiving all your messages, or by archiving all emails except the ones not read or starred.
Conversations and Composing Mail
Email conversations in Mailbox are similar to Apple’s Mail, but Mailbox does it better in that you can tap and read on individual messages in-line rather than being taken to a separate page. Tap a selected message again and you can read it apart from the other messages.
As for composing messages, Mailbox’s clean user interface is also similar to Mail, but unlike the latter you can snap a quick photo from within the app, or choose one from your Photo library. You can also enable Mailbox to access your Address box in order to quickly add email addresses.
Permanent To-Do Lists
Mailbox also includes another almost hidden to-do list. You can do a long swipe left on a message, and a list of folders appears in which you can move the emails to. Mailbox starts you off with a default list (To Buy, To Read, To Watch), but of course you can create your own.
In the hidden side menu bar of Mailbox, you can manage, edit, and set preferences for your Lists, Snoozes, and sync preferences. Settings is also where you add email accounts, send notifications, and create a default signature for the emails you send out.
The sidebar, which you access by tapping the top-right drawer button, also includes folders for your various email lists, including the Trash, where your deleted messages end up. And if you find a Mailbox to be a little tricky to use, the handy Help section includes an in-app tutorial, a set of tips and tricks, and instructions for using Mailbox with Gmail.
Mailbox is fully optimized to work on the iPhone 5, running iOS 6. It is also compatible with the iPhone 3GS and later iPhone models, plus the iPod touch and iPad, though it is not optimized for the latter devices. Mailbox also works for a dozen different languages. The developers chose to incrementally roll out access to its services in order to properly manage the deluge of access to its modern cloud services.
Check out the official video below:
Let us know what you think of Mailbox? Will it make it to the homepage of your iPhone?
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