Patrick Gill Wrangling Mobile Email – Mailbox app, Gmail, and stock.

March 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

We have recently made the switch from Zimbra to Google Apps for our main email and document service here at Data Cave. It became more evident over the last couple of years that we weren’t going to have time to maintain our own email server because we were getting busier with new products, customers, and R&D, which is a very good problem to have. For a company of our size, the price was nearly a wash, and we get a ton of (mostly) reliable email and document storage to boot. With that change we also now have at our disposal several good email clients for our mobile devices as well as our desktop computers. I’m most excited about the mobile platform.

Gmail App for iPhone

Gmail iPhone App

There have been several big changes recently in the mobile email wrangling world that have been, for the most part, pretty exciting. The 2.0 Gmail App (iTunes Store Link) from google has been pretty sweet. It allows you to do most every gmail thing there is, as well as giving support for multiple accounts, though no unified inbox just yet. Last year, however, Google purchased Sparrow, which has been my go-to desktop client of choice, for the simple fact that it’s fast! It seems to do things in the background that the built in Mail client makes you wait for while it completes the processes. I haven’t used Sparrow’s iOS app, but it never got around to doing push notifications, so it didn’t fit in my workflow. Google seems to be adding Sparrow-like features into their own app, but it is still incomplete and I’d like a few more things.

What I want from a mobile email client is fairly simple; I’d like to swipe one way to delete, and the other to archive. I feel like that is kind of a no-brainer and should have been built in to (at least) Apple’s iOS client from the beginning, and certainly by their 6th major iteration of the operating system. But alas, it’s still not there. You CAN flip a switch to allow a gmail setup to do archiving, but then you lose the quick ability to delete. By the way, I think almost everything has gotten good enough at searching that filing email into folders is now a waste of time, for me anyway.

Mailbox App for iPhone

Mailbox App for iPhone

So a new app has just hit the market – Mailbox. It is an iOS only app for now and works exclusively with gmail accounts, but it gives me the ability to swipe one direction for an archive, and it will also let me swipe longer for a delete. This was all I really wanted. Mailbox adds a whole lot more to the mix though. You can short swipe the other direction to move your email to a “later” folder which you do have control of what “later” is. And it will let you long swipe that same direction to place the email in a “list.” To me, these are both GENIUS ideas. You can deal with your emails immediately, or you can pick a time to deal with them later. I try to stay on top of them, so I can quickly do whatever needs done with them, get them out of my inbox, and clear my brain of them as well.

There are a few caveats to the new app though –

Firstly, you have to give the Mailbox company access to all of your emails in order for them to filter correctly. Kind of scary, but they say emails are encrypted while they’re on Mailbox’s servers and not readable by anyone, human or machine. These guys seem trustworthy, but you never know. Luckily I don’t have any personal, nor business secrets to hide.

Secondly, when Mailbox app launched, the company did something that has been, so far, unique. They implemented a reservation system and allowed only as many new clients on to their servers as they could handle. This helped the servers not to become overwhelmed. But think about this: if you are depending solely on the Mailbox servers to deliver your email, and those servers crash, you’re not going to get your email. This is a new company venture for their company and so far they’ve only had a few outages, but you’d better have a backup plan or you may find yourself in an email pickle.

There are many blogs out there that are more in depth about how you should deal with your email, but I try to keep it simple with this list:

1. Allow me to archive and delete from the same window.
2. Be fluid and easy to work with.
3. Be reliable and available.
4. Be fun to use.

I feel like we’re getting closer, but we’re still not quite there…

How are you guys doing it? We’re always up for hearing a better way. Tell us in the comments.

Oh, and hey Mailbox guys: I know of a great Data Center if you’d like some DR or Colo. Let’s make a deal!

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