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App That Reinvents Email As To-Do List Debuts

Mailbox cleverly rethinks Gmail with to-do list features, but you may not be able to use it just yet.
February 7, 2013

Mailbox, a cool, free app that makes your Gmail inbox more like a smart to-do list, is now available to iPhone users in Apple’s App Store–though you may have to wait a while to get it.

Created by the same team behind the Orchestra to-do app, Mailbox had previously been available only to those invited to its private beta test. Now, it’s in the App Store, yet still not freely available. You need to download it to reserve your spot in the Mailbox line, and then wait until you’re ushered behind the virtual velvet rope to actually use it. (My editor downloaded it and opened the app to discover that there were about 200,000 people ahead of him. Apparently he can keep opening up the app to check his progress in the line.)

I first wrote about Mailbox in a December story about startups trying to reinvent e-mail (see “Startups Want to Bring E-Mail Back to the Future”), and again in January as part of a review of several innovative e-mail services (see “Three Companies Thinking Outside the Inbox”). I was drawn to its good-looking design and features like the ability to “check off” e-mail messages by swiping them: a fast swipe to the right will archive a message, while a slow swipe will delete it. You can also swipe a message quickly to the left to snooze it so it will return to your inbox at a later time, or swipe it slowly to add it to a list (“to read”, “to buy”, etc).

The whole idea is to make e-mail messages actionable items that you deal with and then remove from your inbox. It’s a clever way to rethink e-mail, especially for work accounts.

The app is planning to follow a “freemium” pricing model, where the basic Mailbox app will remain free but users will eventually be able to pay for additional features. Despite the current wait, I highly recommend checking it out.

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