Mailbox, the new iPhone email client that has recently set the interwebs alight, officially went live in the App Store today…kind of. The new app is technically out of its beta period, but users eager for a new email experience will have to enter into a waiting list that’s now thousands deep before getting the service rolled out to them. Users will be able to see exactly how many people are ahead of them on the list, but that probably doesn’t make the wait any more tolerable.
So why are iOS users getting all giddy for this thing? For one, it’s from the folks behind Orchestra, the to-do list app that was named the App Store’s productivity app of the year in 2011, so these people generally know what they’re doing.
But the big thing about Mailbox is the way it’s been designed specifically for mobile users. Similar to Orchestra, Mailbox essentially turns an iOS user’s Gmail inbox into a giant to-do list, with each individual email becoming its own separate task.
The free client is heavily swipe-based. A long swipe to one side sends an email to the trash, a shorter swipe to the side sends it to the archives, and so on and so forth. Being able to perform these functions with a single swipe is certainly nothing new to mobile email clients, but that doesn’t make it any less of an efficient option for people trying to get through mountains of email.
Mailbox also has the neat little ability to save emails for reading at a later date. Users can temporarily remove an email from their inbox with a simple swipe to the left, putting it in their “Later” folder and only having it reappear in their inboxes hours, days, or weeks from its original arrival. That could prove quite handy for the many users out there in an endless struggle to reach the fabled inbox zero.
Mailbox looks good, is designed to be efficient, and comes with a solid set of features. Plus it’s free. So what’s not to like? Well, so far it only works with Gmail, which gives it a hefty install base to start but leaves users of Exchange, Yahoo! Mail, and the like out in the cold for now. There’s no version for iPads available just yet, and there’s nothing for Android users either, despite the fact that Google’s Gmail is at the core of the experience. It doesn’t work with Gmail’s labeling system either, so advanced Gmail users may be set back from the start. And even if it does have plenty of good things going for it, Mailbox is still, well, a mailbox. Most of it does what any other email client can do.
Ultimately, some people are probably never going to reach complete inbox zero no matter what client they use. But for users who exclusively use Gmail on their iPhones (and only them), Mailbox may very well be worth checking out.