I already wrote about how Mailbox has revolutionized Gmail and the inbox. It’s an incredible tool to bring your incoherent inbox down to zero and keep it there. It is, in many ways, the perfect training tool for Merlin Mann’s brilliant philosophy. The only real problem with Mailbox was that it was limited to the iPhone. Or, more specifically, that it wasn’t available for Android or for the iPad.
Half of that is fixed as Orchestra (or perhaps I should say Dropbox now) has updated the Mailbox app to work perfectly for the iPad’s larger display. I shared as much right when Mailbox released for the iPad. The other half (Android) Google has updated in their most recent build of Gmail, which will make it incredibly difficult for Mailbox to enter the Android marketplace.
When did gmail on Android start supporting swipe gestures? Smart, will make it difficult for @mailboxapp to step in, even if it is cleaner.
— James Pikover (@jamezrp) April 22, 2013
With Mailbox on the iPad, I finally have a reason on the iPad to avoid using the clunky, old Mail client Apple provides for a proper, gesture-based client. All of the same swipe gestures exist; swiping right to archive, left to delay, etc. The only difference is how the display is used: now you can see a full email thread along with your current list of emails to answer on the left.
The additional screen real estate makes all the difference in the world. Now when I’m working, I am more comfortable managing email on my iPad then directly in the Gmail from my desktop, at least when I have simple actions to take. Replying isn’t as easy when a computer is available, though I have taken the time to do so with the quick Bluetooth switching available on the Logitech K810/K811, depending on which I’m using.
However, the best use of Mailbox has been with a keyboard case or dock, generally while on the couch or away from a computer. I’ve already replaced Mail with Mailbox as my default email client for my main work account. Current Mailbox users will adore the iPad version, and iPad-but-not-iPhone owners will love it as well.
That said, Mailbox for iPad hasn’t been improved. All it does is take advantage of the larger display, which is a huge improvement in its own right. But the few problems that plagued Mailbox already — namely the difficulty of managing a massive inbox and fairly limited default snooze settings — are identical to the iPhone app. Of course, if and when one gets a fix for either of these issues, both will, which will add tremendous value to the app and platform in general.
For the time being, Mailbox has no equal. Several competing apps, like the updated Boxer and even Yahoo! Mail show definite improvement, but they do not have the finish or quality that Mailbox has. They also lack the excellent swipe gestures that Mailbox made a name for itself using. It’ll take a lot more than the competition is offering to get Mailbox off my app dock.
The best Gmail app for iPhone is now the best email client for the iPad.