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R.I.P Mailbox

by | Dec 8, 2015

Today, the earth stood still. Dropbox announced the death of Mailbox, one of the best email productivity tools around.

If you haven’t heard of Mailbox, you likely won’t care. But hey, keep reading anyway, because all is not lost.

Mailbox

The biggest impact Mailbox made was introducing inboxes to snoozing – the ability to remove an email from your inbox, temporarily, while you don’t have time to deal with it, and encouraging us to hit ‘inbox zero‘ every day.

inbox-snoozeAlongside an ongoing backlash against the amount of time we spend in our inbox, it sparked a huge change in the way big companies viewed their email clients – no longer an afterthought, but a centrepiece.

Microsoft (with the acquisition of Sunrise), Google with inbox, and iOS Mail all sought to turn the misery of a standard inbox into a productivity tool by introducing features that Mailbox thought of first.

Aside from no useful integrations, its speed, simplicity and elegance made it almost perfect.

Then Dropbox acquired Mailbox and, as with everything Dropbox acquire, it very quickly went to shit.

Today they hammered the final nail by announcing that it will be totally discontinued in February.

What now?

So what next? Well, I for one am never going back to a stock standard inbox. So here are the alternatives we all have access to today.

TL;DR: The winner is Cloud Magic, with iOS Outlook a surprise runner-up.

1. Cloud Magic

Cloud Magic: The email app that’s simple, smart and beautiful. Integrates with buttloads and has won interface design awards.

Does it snooze? Yes. Desktop app? No. Mobile? iOS and Android, with a dedicated tablet app. Integrations? Buttloads.

Verdict: Comes closest to replacing Mailbox, but no desktop app.

2. Handle

Handle: turns emails into to-dos. I’m not sure how I feel about this as it’s quite a departure from the norm.

Does it snooze? No. Desktop app? Yes. Mobile? iOS only. Integrations? None.

Verdict: Brilliant if you’re a task-driven person, but no integrations sucks.

3. Spark

Spark: One of the most popular 3rd party email apps, Spark goes a long way to organising your inbox for you with automated categorising and only sends push notifications for emails it knows are important.

Does it snooze? Yes. Desktop app? No. Mobile? iPhone only (seriously…). Integrations? All the usual suspects.

Verdict: Has some fantastic features that should propel it to the top of the list, but iPhone only makes it useless for 60% of the market.

4. Postbox

Postbox: Get it done, fast. Oodles of features like macros, time tracking and integrations with all the usual suspects make Postbox a powerful productivity tool aimed at helping you power through a busy inbox.

Does it snooze? No. Desktop app? Yes. Mobile? No. Integrations? All the usual suspects.

Verdict: A powerful tool, but possibly too complex for some. No mobile app limits its appeal.

5. iOS Outlook

Outlook: Yup, you read that right. I almost can’t believe it, but the iOS Outlook app, built by the sunrise team, has an incredible 30 million users. 30 million!

Does it snooze? Yes. Desktop app? Sort of – Outlook for OS X is still lightyears behind, but Outlook 2016 is slowly bringing across the new features of the mobile app. Mobile? The iOS version is significantly more feature packed than the Android equivalent. Integrations? None.

Verdict: 30 million people can’t be wrong, but that fact that, oh sweet irony, it’s mostly iOS only is hilariously limiting.

6. Mail Pilot

Mail Pilot: I expect Mail Pilot will have a huge jump in users come February 26, as it’s almost feature-for-feature with Mailbox. However there’s almost overwhelmingly negative feedback.

Does it snooze? Yes. Desktop app? Yes. Mobile? You betcha. Integrations? None.

Verdict: Comes close to filling the hole in my heart, but the overwhelmingly negative reviews are a problem.

7. Inbox by Gmail

Inbox finally made it to Google Apps for Business after a trial run on gmail users. A complex system that bundles emails by automatically detected categories, inbox is supposed to make your inbox easier to navigate and prioritise. Built in reminders are nice, but I can’t see it replacing the ease of asking Siri any time soon.

Does it snooze? Yes. Desktop app? Yes, via the browser. Mobile? Yes. Integrations? Only google apps.

Verdict: Inbox has some great features, but it also has a UI you’ll either love or hate – I hate it.

There we have it: the options we have today. While nothing quite gets us all the way there with Mailbox’s combination of mobile and desktop apps, performance and usability, Cloud Magic and iOS Outlook almost get us there.

Did I miss a great alternative? Miss anything with the current line-up? Comment below!

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