I'm always looking for unique takes on standard apps. From cameras to browsers to email -- Android has a variation on just about every theme imaginable. Such is the case with Mailbox. This fascinating take on the inbox (created by the makers of Dropbox) currently works with Gmail and iCloud to give you more interaction with your email. With it you can:
- Read a full conversation
- Mute conversations
- Snooze an email for later reading
- Allow Mailbox to learn from your swipes
- Add emails to lists (Notes to Self, To Buy, To Read, To Do, or a custom list)
For me, the snooze feature is perhaps the most useful. With it, you can swipe an email and choose the type of snooze to apply to the email. Snooze types include: Later today, tomorrow eve, tomorrow, this weekend, next week, in a month, someday, and pick date. This means you won't miss what's important, but not quite important enough for you to deal with at the moment. Select snooze, and it'll come back to you at the defined snooze time. Don't worry, even when you snooze an item, it's still there in what Mailbox calls the Later Zone (or in a Gmail folder labeled "Later").
Let's install and use this unique take on the inbox.
As you might expect, installation is simple. Just follow these easy steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your device
- Search for Mailbox
- Locate and tap the entry by Dropbox Inc
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing
- If you agree with the permissions, tap Accept
Once the installation is finished, you should see a launcher on the home screen. If not, open the app drawer and tap the Mailbox icon.
The first thing you must do is walk through a simple "Welcome" wizard that will end with you connecting your email account to the app. Connecting your account is as simple as selecting the account to be included and then entering the credentials for said account. After your authentication succeeds, you'll be presented with an interactive, instructional tutorial. By the time you walk through that, you'll know that:
- A short right-swipe will Archive
- A long right-swipe will Delete
- A short left-swipe will open the snooze picker
- A long left-swipe will open the list picker
Again, the Snooze feature makes Mailbox worth using. I get a ton of email that requires a response -- but not immediately. Being able to snooze those emails, and knowing that they'll return at the configured time, ensures that I won't forget to reply to important missives. To use this feature, do the following:
- From inside your inbox, locate the email to be snoozed
- Short left-swipe the email in question
- From the Snooze popup (Figure A), select how long to snooze the email
The Mailbox snooze feature in action on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.
There's also a feature that allows you to "Get to Zero." In other words, you can empty that mailbox by archiving all messages, archive all except unread, or archive all except starred. To use this feature, Mailbox must have a minimum of 100 conversations in your inbox. If your inbox meets that minimum, a link at the top of the window will appear that says "Help me get to zero." Tap that button, and then select how you want Mailbox to get you to zero.
At the top of the window (Figure B), you'll see three buttons in the center. They are (from left to right): Later, Inbox, and Archive. The Later button will show you all email that you have snoozed. The other two buttons are self explanatory.
The Mailbox main window.
If you're looking for a better way to organize your Gmail or iCloud inbox, you would be remiss if you didn't try Mailbox. It has an incredibly clean interface and a small feature set that's unique enough to set it apart from all other apps in this category.
Are features like this make-or-break for email clients? Or do you find apps like this too gimmicky to take seriously? Let us know your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.