Goodbye Mailbox


For over a year now since I was introduced to the Mailbox App by Dropbox, I’ve been working under the premise of “inbox zero”. As I wrote previously, it changed my attitude towards e-mail and I would go so far as to say reduced my daily stress. But Mailbox has been in BETA for many years, updates were grinding to a halt and I guess the writing was on the wall. Dropbox announced in December 2015 it was saying goodbye to Mailbox. Few work applications had had such a profound effect on my life recently. Other apps that would fit the bill are any of Jetbrains products, Slack and Sketch.

Is e-mail even valid anymore

I know there are more than a few of you out there that have had the same issue as to what to do with your Inbox. I decided to wait a couple of months to see what would shake out and what app I would turn to. In the process I ended up rediscovering the world of E-mail apps. My conclusion: E-mail is one hell of a broken system, but the idea of getting a non-realtime message directed at me or a bunch of people, is valid, relevant and as important as the day e-mail was created. Slack is many things but that non-proprietary global communications no matter your internet connection is still important. Don’t get me wrong, e-mail as a technology is not what might be necessary, but a tech that is non-real time, ability to cc, attach anything and send to someone based on a unique address which they can fetch at their convenience and not owned by any particular company.

My month long odyssey

Here are the apps that I tried. I’ll save you the hassle: I ended up installing SparkMail on my iPhone and Airmail on my Mac. I would love to have a single application which solved everything available on every device and web, but that isn’t happening.

My Criteria

  1. Had to be available on iOS, preferably on Mac as well (score 2.5 for iOS, 2.5 for Mac)
  2. iOS: Had to have the ability to swipe to Archive, Delete and Snooze (max score 5)
  3. iOS: Snooze capability had to have at least “Tomorrow”, “This Weekend”, “Next Week”, “In a month”. (max score 5)
  4. Had to combine my six google accounts into one inbox. (max score 10)

Max Total Score: 25

The Contenders

Google Inbox

google-inbox

Truly this should have been the app to take my email. Heck, all my accounts are Google Apps or Gmail Accounts… But fatal flaw: Cannot combine all my accounts into one inbox on the iOS app (I understand the Android Gmail App is not flawed in this regard).

  1. Availability: 2.5
  2. Swiping: 3 (You can choose to Archive or Delete but not both in a single swipe)
  3. Snooze: 4
  4. Global Inbox: 2 (You can still switch, but what a pain)

Total: 11.5/25

CloudMagic

cloudmagic

I would definitely give this app a try if you haven’t. They just released a Mac version and if they add the remainder of the stuff in 2016 then I might give it a try again. It’s also done by people I know so…

  1. Availability: 5 (as of 2016)
  2. Swiping: 3
  3. Snooze: 0 (Snooze is not available yet)
  4. Global Inbox: 8

Total: 16/25

Microsoft Outlook on iOS

outlook

I haven’t tried a Microsoft mail product in forever, but having heard good things, I did. In fact, it’s a great application. I almost chose it. I also loved the minimalistic design. I also tried Outlook on the desktop (I have Microsoft 365)… that experiment lasted all of 30 mins.

  1. Availability: 2.5
  2. Swiping: 4
  3. Snooze: 4
  4. Global Inbox: 8

Total : 18.5/25

SparkMail

sparkmail

By a company called Readdle, I literally stumbled across this app. The initial version I tried had a buggy snooze option but the kind folks answered many people’s twitter messages and fixed it. Other cool features is the ability to set snooze options and customizing your swipe actions. What I don’t like is that the interface feels more cluttered though it isn’t compared to Mailbox and Outlook. Also there is no Mac version though they say they will get it out after the iPad. However, solid and hasn’t crashed on me! All awesome. I do also miss the Instagram photo reward when you got to inbox zero, I actually discovered beautiful photos through it.

  1. Availability: 2.5
  2. Swiping: 5 (as good as MailboxApp)
  3. Snooze: 5 (better than MailboxApp)
  4. Global Inbox: 8

Total: 20.5/25

On the Mac, I have yet to find an app that works with the iOS as seamlessly as the old Mailbox Mac app did (as buggy as it was). Ultimately with Snooze, you need to have them both working in tandem or have an app on the desktop which at least just gives you a global inbox and let SparkMail or other app just put stuff back into your Inbox. I chose Airmail 2 and it’s a solid e-mail program for the Mac though it is a bit pricy.

For 2016, I’ll live with SparkMail (hey I’m happy to pay for it, it’s a solid app) and Airmail. I hear Polymail may be good (applied for the beta) and there’s a ton of others exploring a task-based e-mail system. All this goes to show that e-mail still continues to confound us. I’m just happy to be back to (near) Inbox Zero.

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