Feeling oppressed by your inbox? Struggling under the weight of unread messages? You're not alone. With half a billion results for "manage my/your email" there's obviously a need for help. Now add in the new wrinkle: many of us are interacting with email primarily or exclusively via our mobile devices, something that the legacy POP and IMAP protocols were never truly built to handle.
Big problems need smart solutions: enter Mailbox, a free app and matching cloud pre-processor for mobile email. The team behind the iOS and web to-do app Orchestra decided to bring its savvy to the email challenge after the experience of trying to manage tasks without integrating the inbox proved frustrating. "In hindsight, it was obvious," said CEO Gentry Underwood. Even with the power of Orchestra in hand, "people kept sending us tasks by email."
Underwood doesn't mince words about the effectiveness of email for task management: "Email is a broken to-do list," he says, and "the way we live our lives on email is ridiculous... marking messages unread, sending things to ourselves" -- all symptoms of a round peg in a square hole. For a fuller rundown of what's not right about email, read Underwood's manifesto on TechCrunch and his interview with AllThingsD.
Mailbox's approach to dealing with the onslaught is to optimize the heck out of your inbox, specifically tuning it to the mobile experience. The company's cloud servers download and compress your messages from Gmail; the app gives you tools for quickly reading, replying, snoozing ("I want to see this tomorrow morning") and sorting your email. Mailbox tries to keep your attention on critical items while allowing you to do email triage, catching opportunities to deal with messages where and when you can in short bursts of engagement.