I was very fortunate to have a low reservation number in the line of over 700,000 people that are patiently waiting for their MailBox number to be called. It is a line that is almost worse than visiting a DMV in any state, but is the wait really worth it?
What is it?
You first might be asking what exactly is Mailbox? Mailbox is a new GMail email app for the iPhone that looks at email differently. A few years back this whole idea of Inbox Zero started. Email can be something that makes you incredibly productive or unproductive. If your a slave to your email, then its holding you back. If you take control of your email, and do not feel like you have to check it every 5 minutes, then you can turn it into a productive tool. The idea behind Inbox Zero is each time you check your email, you deal with everything thats there, and put it in a defined place. Typically those things fall into one of three buckets – archive, follow-up, or trash. Now that we have the idea of what Inbox Zero is, let’s look at how this works with Mailbox.
How do I get it?
The team at Mailbox has decided to grant access via a first come first serve basis. They started with pre-reservations back in January, and hit the app store last Thursday. One really cool thing they are doing is allowing you to see exactly what your number in line is, and how many people are behind you. The line is moving incredibly slow, and at this point over 700,000 people have reserved a spot. Mailbox is assuring that they will start giving out mailboxes faster, and will eventually get to the point where it’ll be open to everyone.
You can download Mailbox from the app store.
How does it work?
You’ve got a lot of options options for checking your GMail on the iPhone, but what makes this different? The first thing you are going to realize about Mailbox is the beautiful interface. It’s clean, simple, and only has buttons there that are needed. They truly thought through the entire workflow process of how email should work.
I’m going to walk you through the entire process, just so you can see how it really does change your mindset on working with your email.
When you receive a email, you have a few options you can delete it, archive it, set a follow up later time, leave it in your inbox, or add it to a list.
Delete: To delete something, you just swipe to the right until you see the red x, and it is deleted.
Archive: To archive, you half swipe to the right, until you see the green check, and it is moved to your archive.
Later: Later is one of the best features of this app. When you see a email come in your inbox that you know needs a action, but you don’t have either the answers or time to deal with it at that moment – you set a time to address it later. When you swipe to the left, you see the yellow later label. Then, a box pops up with the option for you to define when later is.
Lists: Look at lists as a way that you might have typically used folders in the past. By default they have 3 lists setup, but you can delete and add many more yourself. If you have something come in that you might want to buy, ready, or do at a later date you can put it in those lists. This is a feature that I think will organically form to your personal workflow as you start to use it.
Leaving In The Inbox: This is the least desired option in the Mailbox world. The ultimate goal is to get your inbox to zero. They have setup a different daily photo back the background of their logo when you successfully get your inbox to zero. You can even share on social media that you got your inbox to zero, along with viewing the actual photo on Instagram to learn more.
Other key features ..
Composing: The window to compose a new message, looks like one stolen strait from twitter. As you can see in the gallery below, it is extremely simple to add a image, the smaller box is there to encourage you to write shorter emails, and it interacts with your current contact list beautifully.
Move All: There are two small lines at the bottom left and right of the inbox view. These are here to allow you to archive all your current messages, delete all messages, or set all your messages for later. This is an exceptionally great way to get started with the app. If you find that you have thousands of email in your inbox when you first start the app, just archive all of them and you can start with a clean slate.
Badge Number: If you find yourself as someone that has to check a application as soon as you see a 1 pop up on it, then there is a setting just for you. You can actually turn the badge notification completely off. This will allow you to keep your calm, and only check email when you are ready for it.
There are various other different configuration settings that you have at your disposal to increase your experience with the app. From setting snooze times, you can drag and drop emails in a specific order, change the way everything syncs, and setup how you want your notifications to work. Everything is here to make your productivity the best it possibly can be.
With so much hype surrounding this app, does it live up to the expectations? In my opinion, yes. What they are doing isn’t revolutionary. You can do all of these things yourself with your current mail apps, but what makes Mailbox different is they are giving you a workflow and configuration that makes dealing with your email – simple, painless, and quick. It’s going to make you realize that you shouldn’t be a slave to your email, if your intentional about how you interact with it while your there – you’ll gain more time back because of it. Your wait in line might be long, but if you use a Gmail based account as a primary email in your daily life, it’s going to be worth the wait and I really think that your going to become overall more productive because of it.