Martin on Mobile Apps

About this Blog: All smartphone and tablet apps, all the time. Veteran mobile tech journalist James A. Martin offers mobile app reviews, news, tips and more on a variety of major mobile platforms, with a focus on iOS and Android.

Martin on Mobile Apps

The Gmail App All iPad Owners Should Download Right Now

The popular Mailbox Gmail app is now optimized for iPad screens in both portrait and landscape modes, and the software is invaluable for managing your Gmail messages, according to CIO.com blogger James A. Martin.

to iPad |

The popular, and free, Mailbox email app for iPhone is now iPad compatible thanks to a late-May software update. Some extra screen real estate makes it simple to zip through and organize your Gmail.

Developed by Orchestra Inc., Mailbox got a lot of attention when it was released in February 2013. Mailbox was the second-most downloaded free app the day of its release, and people who downloaded it were put on a waiting list until April.

Mailbox iPad

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, there’s no shortage of apps seeking to reinvent, or just simplify, your mobile email experience today. In that post, I reviewed Boxer, an iPhone-only app that offers some cool email features. Boxer lets you quickly respond to email with canned messages, and it supports a variety of email services, including Microsoft Exchange (ActiveSync), Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, AOL and Outlook.com.

Mailbox only works with Gmail, and it doesn’t offer canned responses. But the app has a lot to appreciate, especially if your goal is to achieve an empty inbox.

Mailbox makes it super easy to archive and delete messages with a quick swipe or a tap of the appropriate icons above a message. You can also swipe to add messages to lists and reorder them within those lists.

I'm particularly fond of the ability to "snooze" messages you don’t have time to read. Snoozing lets you pick the precise time messages pop back up in your inbox. Or you can choose more general times, such as "Later Today." Mailbox also lets you specify, in the Settings, what "Later Today" means to you—1 hour later, 2 hours later and so on. 

Mailbox displays your list of messages on the left of your iPad display and shows previews of selected messages on the right. In comparison, the iPhone version only shows your list of messages. Mailbox's June 17 update lets you look at your messages on the iPad in both portrait and landscape modes. (In earlier versions you were confined to landscape mode.)

Mailbox’s tools and interface aren't exactly intuitive, but its tutorial helps get used to them. A short left swipe on a message does one thing, for example, while a long swipe left does another.

For now, Mailbox is only useful to Gmail users, and there’s currently no Android version. Still, it’s a terrific app, it’s free, and it can help you achieve empty-inbox nirvana.

By the way: Apple’s native Mail app in iOS 7 will include swiping gestures that TechCrunch and other bloggers say are reminiscent of Mailbox. I don't think Mailbox will become obsolete, however. On the contrary, it appears poised for bigger things. Dropbox recently acquired it for a reported $100 million. And Mailbox developer Orchestra’s CEO recently said the company plans to release a desktop version.

(Screen shot by Orchestra, Inc.)


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