After months of build up for the iOS Mailbox App I was ready to use Mailbox as an alternative to the built in Mail App of iOS. Mailbox touted some nice features that would “put email in its place”. The day came that I was sent an email for my reservation to use the Mailbox App. My place in line was 49450 and on February 7th the app was made available in the App Store. Upon downloading the app I was prompted to enter my number and a special code that was provided in the email. On the first day I moved up some 300 spots. It became clear that access to this app was going to take a while. This caused quite the conversation on Twitter and various blogs. Finally, on Sunday February 10th, sometime in the evening, I gained access to Mailbox App.
The app at the moment is designed around Gmail. As a Gmail user this on the outside appeared perfect. I had to tweak some of my personal Gmail settings to allow for Mailbox to work with my Gmail account, but within moments I had access to my Gmail mail via the app. The app lived up to the promise of what it could do. I seamed very natural to swipe to the left an right archiving, trashing and listing mail, but there was one glaring problem. To my amazement the app did not allow for access to Gmail labels and below is a tweet to my question regarding labels.
@therealjtray sorry to say mailbox probably wont work for you — Gentry Underwood (@gentry) February 11, 2013
The one thing in Gmail that I love is labels. Its an easy way to organize incoming email and allows you to filter the email to where you want it to be. For instance if I don’t want to look at my iTunes receipts on a daily basis I can simply set up a filter and send those emails to a label to look at it later.
It was at this point the app simply became unusable for me. There was the suggestion to create “lists” in the Mailbox App, but I didn’t particularly care to have to manage emails that Gmail can automatically filter for me for which I can look at later. Also moving labels to the lists within Gmail didn’t pull in previous email.
I had several back an forth conversations via twitter with who I assume was a Mailbox App employee. I know that the app is a work in process and it could change, but for me the use of labels is critical. I don’t think labels will ever be something the folks at Mailbox App will include as noted in the below twitter interaction.
@therealjtray we believe most people who use labels religiously would be better off letting them go and trusting in search
— Gentry Underwood (@gentry) February 11, 2013
After several months of hype and anticipation Mailbox App failed to deliver for a certain group of users. The lack of using labels from Gmail is certainly an issue. The app itself out of the box is designed around Gmail, so those using iCloud, Outlook, Yahoo Mail or other services this app will not work for you. The other glaring downfall is as one moves back and forth from an iPhone or iPod Touch with other devices such as an iPad, Mac or PC the mail has not been organized as it has with the app. This simply does not work for most users who use multiple devices. Future development of an iPad, Mac or PC app will be essential to accomplish the goal of putting email in its place.
As this app grows my hope is that its designers will look at those of us that want Mailbox App’s functionality without having giving up functionality from an email service. With that I am “all done” with Mailbox App.