Over the past two decades, three for some, email has become so entrenched in our daily lives that is hard to remember how we ever functioned without it.
On the other hand, these days the typical inbox has become so cluttered with merchant messages, newsletters, and social media updates that many people feel overwhelmed managing that flow.
What’s complicating all this is our migration en masse to mobile devices. All of a sudden, we can check email anytime and anywhere, but it’s harder than ever to manage it.
That’s where the mobile iOS app Mailbox comes into play. Since launching in February, the company passed the 100 million message-per-day level after only ten weeks, was acquired by Dropbox in March, and as of last week, released an iPad app.
“Email is terrible when it is used as a to do list, and yet that's what many of us try to do with it,” says Mailbox co-founder and CEO Gentry Underwood. “It was invented to be a light-weight communications system but has evolved into a collaboration tool. And all of this becomes much worse on mobile devices, of course.
“One of our biggest challenges is email is a 30-year-old protocol developed originally as a communications system connecting computers chained to desks with other computers chained to desks,” Underwood continues. “Speed and efficiency were not a big concern back then. But by today's standards it's an extremely old and cranky way for computers to be talking.”
To date, the app only works with Gmail accounts, but the company is actively working to add other email platforms.
The way it re-imagines the mobile email experience is to introduce time-based swipe options. As you check your incoming messages, you can choose to swipe messages right or left, “snoozing” some of them onto lists for later use, archiving, or trashing others.
The goal is to help users reach the “Inbox Zero” state, where they can finally relax for a moment – until the next inflow of messages arrives.
“Were trying to reduce your anxiety,” says Underwood,” by changing your relationship to email from something you feel controlled by to something you control.”