Mailbox for iOS now available; grab a reservation soon

Mailbox for iOS now available; grab a reservation soon

Summary: One of the hottest iOS apps of the year just became available in the App Store, but there's a catch. You need to reserve a spot in the queue to actually use it.

TOPICS: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone
Mailbox for iOS now available; grab a reservation soon though - Jason O'Grady

I selected Sparrow as one of the Best apps of 2012 -- but that was only because Mailbox wasn't yet shipping. Well, that just changed and Mailbox is now available for free from the App Store. But there's a catch. Although you can install the app today, developer Orchestra Inc. is metering out access with a novel reservation system.

Before reading any more of this post, go download the app and reserve your spot in line.

It works like this, you install the app on your iPhone, then you request a spot in the queue. Mailbox then gives you a number and tells you how many people are ahead of you and how many are behind you. When I saw the notification earlier today, the queue was around 250,000 people long. As of this posting the queue is at 423,399.

Mailbox is a promising email client for iOS (currently iPhone and Gmail only) that features simple, intuitive gestures for managing your email with one thumb. It reminds me of the simple, swipe-everything interface in my favorite iOS note-taking app, Clear.

There are five zones in Mailbox, and you swipe messages to move between them.

  • Swipe right to Archive
  • Long swipe right to Trash
  • Swipe left for Later (like the "snooze" bar on your alarm clock)
  • Long swipe left for Lists
The five zones in Mailbox - Jason O'Grady

In another unique twist, the badge icon on your Mailbox displays total conversations, as opposed to unread messages. The concept is to keep things that you need to focus on in your inbox while sending other messages to Archive or Later. You can also drag messages up and down to re-order them in your inbox (like a traditional list app), putting them into the priority that works for you -- a departure from dealing with email that's displayed in traditional reverse-chronological order.

Mailbox is a radical rethink of how you interact with email and one that's been desperately needed. I just hope that they add generic IMAP support soon so that I can switch from forever.

Here's the demo video:

Topics: Apple, Apps, iOS, iPhone

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  • No IMAP? Seriously?

    Who in 2012 still uses POP? Launching an E-mail client with no IMAP support is asinine.

    And the comparison with Clear isn't exactly a positive one. Isn't Clear the application that pointlessly eschews discoverable UI in favor of hidden "gestures" and a lack of distinction between single items and groups of items (among other problems)?

    Unless there's a visual indication of what you're supposed to do, this is just more Easter-egg UI that continues a backward slide in design skills and usability.

    "the badge icon on your Mailbox displays total conversations, as opposed to unread messages. The concept is to keep things that you need to focus on in your inbox while sending other messages to Archive or Later."

    How do those things even relate? What does showing a total of "conversations" have to do with segregating messages into different categories? And of what use is such a total? I've never wanted a tally of conversations in Mail or any other E-mail client, so why here?

    And is there some visua
    Oscar Goldman
    • LOL i agree

      What a stupid App. What is so novel about waiting in a Q to use an app. Who enjoys Ques here? Why a long slide and a short slide? And why only POP? This is for the person who enjoys reading books with pictures.
      • +1

        Another sad example of the incestuous nature of Silicon Valley; this company obviously has friends in the Tech Media, thus it's 'the hottest app of the year' BEFORE it even arrives in the Store. And another mail app - just what Humanity needed.

        Hopefully before the day's out we will have another way to share photos! (/sarcasm)
        beau parisi
        • I hope the previous tool collection

          Was front and center eulogizing about how touch is the future of computing. Because Clear and Mailbox are prime examples of that, but bias seems to be more important than consistency.
  • So I'm supposed to ..

    ... make a reservation for an app that is vaporware and was developed by a no-name company?
  • Clearly I'm not the only one fed up with traditional mail clients

    Given that the queue (on front of me + behind me) is over 500,000 people right now I'm not the only person looking forward to this app.

    For the record I love Clear, I will use more robust apps for managing tasks if I'm working on a project with others but I've tried many different productivity apps looking for one that suits me and they all sucked in comparison. The overall experience is just so much more natural than traditional apps that I can be far more creative, gets my ideas straight into the app instead of adjusting the way I think to the format they chose for me.

    I'm not sure if the queue was marketing to make people want it more, I thought the point was that they are an unknown company and it was cost/resource related but maybe not. Anyway it works with Gmail just fine regardless of IMAP limitation so that's all that I need
  • gmail?

    If this thing is gmail only, why not just use the gmail app or the web interface via Safari -- it works pretty well.

    Ok, if you are too bored and need something "new", I could understand.. but waitng in a 500k queue ... makes no sense, if you are fan of queues, that is.
    • gmail?

      I'm not physically waiting in a queue :) they will give me a notification when the time comes ya know, I am free to pursue other interests in the mean time. I could use the gmail app and while it's gotten better it's still basically a classic email program, Mailbox gets rid of the clutter and noise
      • Really?

        So you haven't gotten it yet but you know that it's going to solve your 'noise and clutter' problem? LOL! Shill, shill, shill your boat...
        beau parisi
  • Marketing Scam

    I made the mistake of trusting the author here. It's just marketing hype and I don't particularly care about that. I care deeply that a journo should take an active role in it. It makes me question the amount of trust I put in ZDNet
    Gerry Atric
  • Queueing just to see what it is

    As I work in IT I want to see what the buzz is about. Maybe this is the next wonderapp maybe it isn't... Buy I want to make up my own mind so I can advise others based on personal experience. Informed opinion ftw!

    As for the features, I'll see if I can use it even though I don't actively use my Google accounts. There are always more features to come but you have to start somewhere.
  • premature-opinionation syndrome

    How many people critiquing this app so far actually have it?
    Perhaps you actually try using it before acclaiming or denouncing it.
    E Conner
    • That's kind of the point

      You can't try it. You can only queue, and at their current processing rate, most people will be on their next iPhone before they can use it.
  • Well...

    No IMAP is definitely more than a bit curious, but the swipe lengths look like an accident waiting to happen... swipe a bit too long when you are not paying attention and you just deleted the e-mail from the boss which you needed to respond to...? But since I cannot write apps myself, I will leave it at that and opt out of the hoopla.
    • Not the best, but recoverable.

      Agreed. Two different swipe lengths is probably not the best. I'll probably give them some feedback on that after trying it out.

      However, it should be noted that Gmail does use a Trash folder, so you can go virtual dumpster diving if you accidentally delete something important ;).
  • Looks like more than just gestures

    Well, you call them "gestures," but to me it looks like actual interaction.

    I remember old, klunky "gesture" systems where you did strange things like drew random things to do things, with no visual indicator of what you were gesturing. This is a lot more advanced than that, and probably needs a better word than "gesture."

    It's more about organizing your email, and less about the gestures, from what I can tell. Actually looks pretty good, may give it a go.

    The ad also showed rearranging emails, which I haven't seen before in an email client - a priority system of some time, perhaps?
  • iPad?

    Is this app only for the iPhone or will it work on the iPad?


    What's the business model?

    It's currently free, with no ads. Any idea what the long term plan for monetization is? They can't do this forever.
  • Conversations?

    I'm not into the whole "conversation" flow of email. I get that there can be multiple emails in a thread but I don't think of my emails as conversations. It's one thing I don't like about GMail. At least I can make GMail conform to email norms, or appear to. I don't like labels. Emails belong in folders. I don't make the rules, that's just the way it is.
  • Showed it to a friend . . .

    Showed the video to a friend, just for somebody else's reaction to it - he didn't see the big difference between the app and the built in iPhone app.

    Sadly, I'll have to agree: Most people are just gonna see yet another email app. Okay, so it's a swipe instead of a tap or two - does that really make it a "radical rethink?"

    Most regular people aren't gonna agree.

    Personally, I think I'll use it, though. If only because I have a large volume of email history, and this looks to be something suited for large volume email handling.