Mailbox For Android Arrives-And It’s Not Bad!

in Mobile Computing, Productivity

mailboxEavesdropping on IoS  users over the last year or so the buzz has been about an email app that lets users reach that near mythical Nirvana of Inbox Zero-Mailbox.  Although there has been a number of  other apps and services that have tried to mimic or Mailbox, it was when Dropbox bought the company that its kudos and status was assured.

Now Mailbox is available for Android – albeit in a limited capacity. Although it installs on my old Galaxy SII, it won’t on my Nexus 7 table (edited to add I extracted the raw APK file and sideloaded it onto my Nexus 7). Whether this is a design limitation of Mailbox or something imposed by Google I am not sure. Anyway, Mailbox has been on my phone for a little under 24 hours and although on my experience of similar apps I was prepared to delete it almost immediately – I actually like it a lot.

mailboxThe first thing that struck me was how much faster it was in picking up email that the standard Gmail app. On a slow mobile connection – which can be the norm in the global wilderness where I live – Gmail can be like wading through treacle. Mailbox is quick to load and download emails and is on a par with my preferred email app K-@Mail which handles four email accounts.

Only GMail or iCloud/Apple Mail

Which brings me to the first negative – Mailbox only works with Gmail or the IoS email package. No IMAP options. Also on install Mailbox doesn’t sync with my existing Gmail folders, but you can create your own lists into which you can place emails. What it does do, now that I have kicked started my desktop email app Postbox is that it creates a set of Mailbox folders that correspond to the Mailbox folders on the phone.  So, it complements rather than replaces my desktop app allowing me to work swiftly from my phone while I am out and about and then catch up with emails on Postbox when I am back at HQ. Neat.

The app comes with a set of default lists of Later, To Buy or To Watch but you can add you own but at the moment I cannot find a way to delete the built in lists but I haven’t tackled the FAQ section yet and will report back on this later.


At this point it is probably best clear the air and state that I am not a huge Getting Things Done (GTD)  fan, in fact IJDGI (I Just Don’t Get It) and do not need some pseudo religion and chanting the GTD mantra to achieve a reasonable degree of productivity that keeps my head above water.

Without going in too much detail Mailbox handles your email by allowing you respond immediately or using a series of sideways swipe actions to archive or put it into a holding area so you can get back to it later. The app learns as it goes along and the Mailbox blog explains :

“Auto-swipe is something we wanted to release with the first version of Mailbox, but it’s only with recent improvements to our infrastructure that such a smart service has been possible.  Starting today, Mailbox uses Dropbox to sync preferences and Auto-swipe patterns across email accounts and devices. That means you get a seamless experience no matter which device or email account you use. This is part of an ongoing integration of Mailbox into the Dropbox family — we’re working hard to craft magical experiences that are only possible on top of the Dropbox platform.”

The developers are also working on a desktop version but as you would expect from what started out as an IoS service this is only available as a beta for Mac users.

So in under 24 hours an app that I thought I’d dislike has got me very interested and that takes some doing.


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