New App Review: Mailbox

On Sunday morning, I turned on my iPhone and launched the new Mailbox app to see that I could finally connect my Gmail account. It meant I had gone from 171,000 on their reservation list to in the door within about a week and a half. I was excited to use this highly touted product — part of it was hype, the other part was that the default mail app on the iPhone just isn’t sexy enough.

Several days later, I’m questioning whether Mailbox is right for me. Don’t get me wrong, the app works wonderfully, with ease, is fast and looks great. But I’m a multiple mailbox guy and Mailbox is limited in that regard.

Mailbox only works with Gmail at this point so the initial sync pulled in mail exclusively associated with my primary account’s Inbox, All Mail, Trash and Sent folders. I use folders heavily in Gmail, but none of those appeared in Mailbox. Those messages do appear though in the folder “Archive,” ordered by date with no way to search. Mailbox allows you to create folders within the app, which then get added under the [Mailbox] folder in Gmail’s Web platform, but that would require starting all over again with my email filing system.

The app also has the ability to add more accounts, but again, only if they are Gmail related. Until Mailbox can support other mail services, I’ll have to use as well to continue receiving all my messages.

Here are three of my observations after using Mailbox for a couple days:

1. Mailbox ignores filters. Any mail that comes to my primary email address and is supposed to be marked as read and filed away gets shown as new mail. Once I launch the app, the new message total is reduced as the message automatically disappears. An example of this is that I use heavily to manage my unwanted messages. I’ve found emails from Gilt and JetSetter, which are supposed to be filed away, show up in my Mailbox inbox when on my Gmail they’re already moved to their proper folder. This is frustrating.

2. Mailbox can’t handle other accounts synced with my Gmail. I use Webmail for all of my BakBurner Digital accounts. Those messages are pulled into Gmail through the POP3 service, then sorted into unique folders. The accounts are linked to my primary Gmail account, but still don’t appear in the app. For the last week, I haven’t seen any messages in Mailbox that come to my BakBurner Digital addresses.

3. I use Right Inbox on the Web to manage my messages that should be hidden from my inbox until a given time. I’m still trying to figure out how to use both together. I know you can move messages from your Gmail Web client to the Mailbox Later folder, but there is no ability to set the time it would return. Mailbox decides that.

I believe Mailbox is off to a great start, but until they can support other mail accounts, read all Gmail folders and perhaps build a browser plug-in to manage email online, it’s just too limited for my needs. I’m going to continue using the app and monitoring it as it grows. Mailbox is taking baby steps as it grows. It’s smart to start that way, but with a strong demand, those steps need to become bigger and faster.


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