Developer: Orchestra, Inc.
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

iOS Integration Rating: ★★★★★
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Mailbox represents a perspective shift to email, in that it treats the inbox not as a list of messages hanging around one’s neck like so many albatrosses, but as a list of tasks that need to be completed. So, reading an email and being done means that it can be removed the list like a completed task, meaning it is archived from the inbox. Messages can be ‘delayed’, making them temporarily hidden from the inbox, reappearing at a later time defined by the user to be completed later. But, the important thing is that they are removed from the inbox, making inbox zero a potential daily occurrence.

The interface is effectively simple, making it easy to quickly archive an email or delay it for later. It’s very much Clear-esque, even if it doesn’t quite have the relentless minimalism of Clear. If an email gets archived or delayed accidentally, there’s easy access from the various tabs to access it again.

The option to delay emails for “Later” option is an amazing feature for procrastinators that want to just delay all their important tasks until later while still getting the satisfaction of inbox zero. Mailbox can be an act of delusion, but it’s kind of brilliant that way. The delays to later times can all be customized in the app, which makes it very adaptable to one’s workflow.

The app only supports Gmail at launch, though Google Apps accounts may also work. Using one’s Gmail account from other sources requires adjusting to the usage of the archive function, as ‘unread’ means far less with Mailbox. It requires a workflow change that’s actually become preferable to me. However, the fact that delaying emails for later is only available from Mailbox, even if adding mails to the “Later” folder, makes me dislike using Gmail from other sources because it’s just incomplete.

Mailbox is still using a waiting system to only let in a limited number of users – I signed up early and got in within a couple of days, so I’ve gotten to make it a regular part of my email experience, though people are still waiting to even get in! The servers have suffered a few occasional hiccups along the way, but it hasn’t lost any work I’ve done in the app. I still just use it to check my one main email account, with others still through the Gmail app. I’d still like to check that inbox through Gmail’s app, particularly as finding older emails is difficult with Mailbox, but the all-or-nothing notification settings prevent that.

Mailbox‘s new way of doing things represents a dramatic improvement in my workflow, and the delusionary satisfaction I get in saying that everything has been dealt with in a concrete way is a welcome feeling. Despite a couple minor issues that it raises, I feel more productive with Mailbox.

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