By Natasha Baker
TORONTO Feb 18 More than 800,000 people are
waiting to access a new iPhone app that aims to transform their
email experience by helping them achieve the elusive "inbox
zero" -- a fully processed and empty inbox.
The Mailbox app, which launched this month, is slowly
rolling out invitations to people waiting in line. The
excitement, according to its creators, is a testament to their
frustration with existing, out-dated methods of dealing with
"The big shift is away from a mobile email client that is a
shrunken version of a desktop email client towards a mobile
email client focused primarily around processing and triage,"
said Gentry Underwood, the CEO and co-founder of Palo-Alto-based
company Orchestra, which created the app.
The ability to "snooze" an email, which is to defer it to
another time, whether later in the day, on the weekend, or until
the following week, is one of the main features of the app.
"We want to decide 'do I need to reply now', 'can I deal
with this later', or 'should I get it out of the way and never
deal with it again?'" he said.
The other strong point is its use of gestural swipes for
quickly archiving, deleting and filing messages, or adding them
to lists, such as "to read", or "to buy".
The company, which also created to-do list app Orchestra,
pulls inspiration from author David Allen's "Getting Things
Done" system. The system outlines a rule of "do it, delegate it,
defer it, drop it" to help people maintain empty inboxes.
"That creates a very different experience and peace of mind
where you know that everything is in its place," said Underwood.
However, one problem with this system, according to
Underwood, is that it requires discipline to constantly review
folders where tasks are stored for future reference. To overcome
this, the Mailbox app provides push notifications for emails
that have been snoozed on the day when they are relevant.
"All of a sudden you can have the blissful experience
without developing the ninja-like discipline and that's the
secret sauce behind this more euphoric experience," he said.
The company is rolling out invitations for the app daily,
but cannot provide specific timelines. The wait, according to
Underwood, is in place to maintain stability of their system,
which he said presents more of a challenge than standard apps.
"Scaling something like an email service is really hard
because it involves handling a lot of data and strange
edge-cases -- email, file attachments, content in all sorts of
languages," he added.
In the meantime, a countdown in the app keeps people in line
up-to-date on where they stand.
The app provides many new features over the native iPhone
mail app, however it lacks the ability to multi-edit or
While the app currently only works with Gmail, the company
plans to expand to other types of email and platforms in the
future. It is available worldwide.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)