Like Eldorado, the fountain of youth and a decent cup of coffee at midnight – achieving inbox zero is a goal many set out on, but very few ever achieve. Mailbox App for iPhone (free from the Apple App Store) helps those on their own journeys to an uncluttered email account, using sleek software which makes you look at Apple's native Mail client with disdain.
All the tasks on Mailbox are done through swipes and gestures making it easy to organise emails quickly. A swipe to the right marks a message as read, a long swipe to the left puts it into a list for you to read later. Different variations of swipes navigate through the menu, deletes messages and hides your mail.
Getting rid of the email in your inbox is the endgame with Mailbox. The app's mantra is the inbox is for urgent things that need to be dealt with, everything else is periphery and distractions. With that in mind the app has several options for doing away with these distractions, including something that's become my go to method for dealing with email - snoozing.
Fellow procrastinators will appreciate the snooze function, which removes emails from your view until a later time – putting them off for a few hours, a day, week, or month. This leaves you to focus on the messages that really do matter. Looking back to how I kept my inbox tidy before Mailbox, I've come to realise how archaic my email existence was.
The app's design is perfectly suited for the iPhone. It's crisp and clean, nothing garrish or distracting – you're here to conquer your emails not faff about with chrome and buttons. For your dutiful inbox maintenance you're rewarded with an Inbox Zero image, which changes every day.
Unfortunately Mailbox app is severely limited in the number of services it supports, in fact at this point it only works with Gmail. For a large number of people this will be enough, but those who sync work accounts this means the app is DOA. The app's developer says it will support more IMAP mail systems in the future, if you're willing to hold out til then.
You can send photos and attachments through Mailbox, but sending messages from other apps (like the Gallery or a document reader) is not supported like it is with the native Mail app.
Perhaps the most annoying thing about Mailbox is you're instantly put on a waiting list in order to even use it. It took me about a week to wait out the 500,000 people in the line ahead of me.
Verdict: I'm not a big fan of productivity apps, mostly because I'm far too lazy to immerse myself in using them. However, with Mailbox it's so simple and intuitive it's hard to find excuses not to get into a good mail sorting habit.
Unfortunately, we use Microsoft Office 365 at work which isn't supported by Mailbox so I'm finding myself using one mail client to manage my work email and another for my personal Gmail account.
If you can get over the app's limiting flaws (or if you only use Gmail), I recommend you stick your native Mail app in a hidden folder and place Mailbox App on your dock.