Mailbox app displaced with Inbox by Gmail?

I have long been a fan of regularly cleaning out the e-mail inbox by any means necessary. Simple creative strategies have included scheduling outbound mail (Boomerang for gmail or standard send later Outlook functionality) and using intelligent search rather than wasting time with folders/labels (in Outlook using autohotkey to make “archiving” emails simple rather than inefficient folders). Snoozing emails (with Boomerang or for Gmail, or using this hack for Outlook) makes a lot of sense when something doesn’t need to be tracked as a task. I also recently tried for consolidating time spent on newsletter type mail (I’ll never understand why we can’t all get along and use RSS) and liked the concept but didn’t like how hard it was to actually read content within the roll-ups.

On mobile I am a big fan of Mailbox since it came to Android and thought I had found the most useful tool yet for this purpose. Love the design (not surprising coming from Dropbox). Wife loves it on iOS too.

And then comes along Inbox by Gmail out of left field and comes with a this exact type of functionality and a bunch of other cool stuff to boot. I never thought I would part with Mailbox this quickly but I tested both out for a few weeks and did decide to make the switch.

Things in particular I like about it

  • If I’m going to interact in a particular way with email I like having the option on both mobile (Android) and the web
  • Snooze to location, come on that is cool.
  • Integrates with google now reminders which I did already start using as the quickest way to send myself a reminder. It fixes a flaw with those in that on Android those reminders often get lost even if you don’t specifically snooze or dismiss them and they will at least still sit there in Inbox.
  • I was skeptical at first but I have used the bundles concept for certain things. Selective notifications on the bundles does have some use, even if this feature needs some work. For example, I really don’t need to see receipts in my inbox as long as they are searchable if I need them. But I might want to skim them once a week in one shot.

Reasons I considered sticking with Mailbox on mobile and stock Gmail on web

  • I still prefer to write web emails in Gmail and not Inbox. The compose window does not have all the rich-text (and the ones that are available are hidden) options of Gmail, and you can’t “pop out” the compose window. Can’t “send and archive” in one step. Still a lot to be desired in the compose functionality, coming from Gmail.
  • Can’t pick a specific time for bundles to re-appear in the inbox beyond 3 hard coded choices for later today, tomorrow, next week.
  • Wasn’t sure if messing around with bundles at all was worth it, so if you totally don’t like labels at all this is a pro for Mailbox. They are not easy to access in Inbox on the web.
  • Mailbox likely to get a web app at some point that I’m sure will be bad ass.
  • With Mailbox on Android you can snooze emails directly from the notification drawer, whereas Inbox only has the Done option.
  • Mailbox consistently improves incrementally and you therefore get to geek out on “What’s New” in Play Store on a regular basis.
  • Like anything from Google you have no idea what the product roadmap is and if you can expect continued enhancements, let alone abandoned altogether.

Last thoughts and what might sway me either way again at some point

  • Both of them are still missing schedule email functionality on mobile and web (i.e. like Boomerang and Outlook provide).
  • I’d like to be able to snooze an entire label and not just individual emails. This would allow me to create my own bundles (from labels), to package up several related emails and snooze the set to only re-appear at a later time. Right now you can use multi-select to sort of do this, but there is room for improvement. For example what if I could say I only want to see a label for a research project show up in the inbox one month from now closer to when I have scheduled time to actually work on it. Until then I want anything triggering the label to just get snoozed (I like to send myself emails..).
  • Still not sure what snoozing to “some day” means on either of these. Haven’t gotten around to actually looking in to that, but it would be cool if that function used a truly random formula to have it appear back at an unpredictable interval, rather than just label it.

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