Today, cult favorite email app Mailbox says it’s final goodbyes before heading to that giant glue factory in the cloud. It’s a move that many are in agony over and one that was pretty costly for Dropbox, but if I’m being honest, I’m over it.
I was a Mailbox user. I had dutifully swiped email into oblivion for nearly two years before hearing the news that my favorite email app would shutter in February.
Well friends, today is that day.
But, after trying a dozen or so contenders, I’ve finally come to realize that what made Mailbox so special — it’s intuitive handling of email that would normally clutter your inbox — has been done, and redone, and redone once more. In fact, nearly everyone these days is taking advantage of swipe-centric interfaces and an emphasis on clearing your inbox.
The things that made Mailbox special are now, well, kind of normal. But of course I never saw it because I just kept believing Mailbox was a unique snowflake. And it was, at least until developers started integrating what made it so special into other email apps, some of which far exceed the capabilities of Mailbox itself.
I’ll miss Mailbox, but I would have missed it much more before a few months ago. I’ve since found solace in other email applications, and today, I’m going to share a few worthy contenders with you.
Even diehard Mac users can’t deny that Outlook — a Microsoft product — is one of the best mobile clients on Android and iOS.
Where Outlooks excels is in becoming a catchall for all the things we’re not used to a mobile inbox doing. Whether it’s integrating to-dos and calendars or quickly retrieving files from cloud storage or just setting up that next meeting by clicking the icon on the bottom bar, Outlook not only does it, it usually does it in the simplest and most efficient way possible.
Outlook does a lot of little things right. For example, the ability to leverage integrations to send files that never actually touch your phone, or accepting and declining calendar invitations without opening the message.
I wanted to love Inbox. Its swipe interface was arguably better than my beloved Mailbox, it grouped similar messages together for easy archival and it highlights certain emails for quick access, such as flight times, photo attachments and notifications about events and reminders.
But, and this is a big one… it didn’t have account switching. If you rely on more than one email address, this definitely isn’t the app for you. That said, a Google rep told me that this is something they’re working on, and they’ll have it, well, when they have it.
Update from this guy on Twitter (checks out):
@bryanclark hey! Just wanted to say that inbox by google has account switching features on iOS and OSX…
— Zan Ilic (@zanilic) February 26, 2016
Before finding, and falling in love, with my current email fling, I ran head-first into Boxer. Boxer does everything Mailbox does and perhaps better. In fact, if you’re looking for the easiest switch from Mailbox, this is probably the best app for the job.
The swipe interface is fast and responsive. The calendar integration is nearly as good as Outlook and the built-in to-do list is a nice touch for those that are looking for better integration between a planner and an email client.
Spark is a rock-solid alternative to Mailbox that has a few additional bells and whistles, notably, the ability to categorize and filter incoming mail. Rather than sending everything straight to the inbox, its Smart Inbox function automatically categorizes things so that you only get alerted to what it thinks is most important.
Of course, the other messages are still there, it’s just that the prioritized stuff is front and center so that it doesn’t get lost in a sea of not-so-important email.
Spark also features integration with just about anything you’re using to store files. Google Drive, Evernote, Pocket, Dropbox and others are all just a click away and the integrations allow for super seamless transition between email and longer term storage of attachments, photos or items you’d just prefer to read later.
My Pick — Airmail (iOS)
Airmail offers an insane amount of customizability as well as all of the features of the aforementioned Boxer. It works just like Mailbox in that you can swipe messages to anywhere, but the ability to customize just what these swipes do, or how many different swipe actions you want, is a game-changer.
The more you tweak the preferences, the more tailored to your unique style the app becomes. Over time, you won’t be able to imagine switching.