A Million Little Mailboxes
Can a million users be wrong? Thatâs the question to ask this week as Dropboxâs recently acquired Mailbox app for Appleâs iOS has hit the million user mark. The free app debuted in the Apple App Store on February 7, arriving as a download for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users.
However, actual access to the service was doled out on a first-come, first-served basis that included a reservation system. It is hard to believe that users would actually sign up and then wait in a queue for access to email, but this is how Googleâs Gmail launched for desktops a decade ago.
As of this week, one million reservations had been filled and yet there are still a number of uses in line. Mailbox could prove to be so successful that some (a lot in fact) will someday be able to boast that âI was one of the first million users.â It appears in this age of mass followings on Twitter, countless friends on Facebook and the like that weâre actually at that point where being in the first million is something unique.
As of press time, Cnetâs Lance Whitney noted that there were nearly 500,000 people still in front of him waiting for their access to the Orchestra developed Mailbox.
What remains the head scratcher in this is that the email has been on mobile devices for years, even before the smartphone became such a ubiquitous device. So what exactly is the deal that makes Mailbox such a compelling app, notably one that people will wait line, or at least a virtual queue, to take advantage of?
In a word, gesture.
Mailbox is clearly an attempt to reinvent the interface of email. Why isnât really addressed, and in many ways this could be seen to run contrary to the long standing notion that âif it isnât broken, donât fix it,â but clearly developer Orchestra is playing to the beat of their own drummer. This has meant changing the interface.
This latest update thus includes some user interface enhancement, but also addresses some performance issues. More importantly the latest version shakes things upâŠ literally.
Users can now âshake to undo.â You didnât mean to delete that email? Then shake the phone instead of doing a few clicks.
This isnât to say that the touch equation has been taken out of the mix. iOS is still very much a touch-driven experience. Users still need to swipe and press and drag and generally touch the screen, and that isnât going to change. After all, users canât exactly fail their arms about to access email.
Mailbox is also clearly aimed at those who simply donât deal with every email instantly or in the order these come in. The system allows messages to be in whatever order you, as the user, like, just as you could do with physical mail. Since there are times when email is important but you just canât deal with it, there are features such as âsnooze,â which allow email to be put back in the queue while a reminder can be sent about it.
In this way the message isnât buried in the stack, as can often happen with email.
Mailbox can sync up with Gmail accounts â and at this point only Gmail accounts â albeit with some features stripped out. For iOS users this could be way to streamline their email management.
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