At its recent WWDC presentation, Apple demonstrated that it still has the design chops for putting out a classy, eye-catching products and software. But in the case of the iOS 7 Mail app, the default iOS email client received comparatively low-grade functional changes. Third-party iOS mail clients including Mail Pilot, Mailbox, Cloze, and now Boxer (normally $4.99, but currently free for the first 100,000 downloaders) provide the type of advanced email management features missing in Apple’s default Mail client.
Boxer for iPhone combines the unique features of Cloze and Mailbox, and it supports Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo!, Hotmail, Outlook, AOL and more. Boxer is not yet optimized for the iPad, and at the moment push notifications are only available for Gmail accounts.
Boxer includes everything you would expect in a mail client: inboxes for multiple mail accounts (which can be viewed together or separately), the ability to write, reply, and forward messages, as well as archive, delete and mark messages as spam.
The user interface design seen in Boxer is clean, and easy to navigate, though there are several advanced features that are only a swipe or two from accessing. The main sections of Boxer are the Inbox, To-Do Lists, and the Dashboard. You get the option to decide which section you want to appear upon initial launch.
Just like other third-party mail clients, Boxer includes handy swiping features. When you swipe a message to the left in the inbox list, you archive it by default, or your can select to delete or mark it as spam. The only drawback to this feature is that you can’t bulk archive or delete messages. The only iOS mail client that handles bulk archiving is Mailbox.
Swiping a message to the right brings up many of Boxer’s unique features, which I will touch on in a second. You can undo a left swipe before you archive, delete, or mark a message as spam. But once an action has been applied, and you move to the next message, you can’t undo the previous action. This means you can’t – for instance – un-delete a message, which is worth remembering.
Boxer includes a few unique features that sets it apart from the other third-party mail client. First off, you can actually “Like” a message. If you want to quickly let a sender know that you favor their message, you simply swipe it to the right in the inbox list view, and tap the Like icon. When you move to the next message, your favor response will be automatically forwarded to the sender.
The liked reply message the sender receives is, “[Your name] liked your message with Boxer,” with the link to the app’s website. Unfortunately, you can’t customize this reply message. Many users might not want to include the Boxer name and link in their reply.
Similar to Cloze, Boxer contains mail templates that you can quickly select and add to your original messages and replies. Not even the OS X version of Mail includes these types of handy snippets. Again, you can tap the Quick icon in the menu of actions to bring up your list of reply templates.
In the Settings section of the app, you can customize or add more snippets to fit your needs. When replying to a message you also get options for setting a due date, a priority, or an “assignee” for the message.
Boxer also makes it easy to quickly attach a photo and even a file from your Dropbox account! Try doing that with Apple’s default Mail client.
Other options for handling messages in Boxer include features for adding selected messages to a to-do list, or to simply mark messages as Done. The latter option is for parking a message in the Done list for later review. You can also tap the folder icon at the bottom of an opened message to bring up Boxer’s built-in actions and the existing folders in your mail client, where you can move a message to.
In addition to syncing with Dropbox, Boxer for iPhone also allows you to connect the app to Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Boxer uses these connections to provide information about the contacts in your inbox. You can actually tap on the profile photo of a contact and Boxer will not only filter all the messages associated with the contact, but also provide their available social network links.
Needs Bulk Archive
Overall, Boxer is another great option for managing your email on your iPhone. I do, however, look forward to the developers adding bulk mail handling. I like to get my inbox quickly to zero, but swiping each individual message is a huge time waster. The other iOS mail client, Mailbox (Free) is the only app I know of that handles archiving bulk emails.
Let us know what you think of Boxer – as of this writing a little over 23,000 free copies are remaining. Will you be ditching Apple Mail, or have you already done so?