To App, to App, and Back?

A long time ago, I decided that I would diversify my email accounts.  One of the decisions that I made was to use my Gmail account for social media and Web 2.0 things.  Without a doubt, it’s the most active account that I have and there’s always a game of catch up on email to be played.

Being a web service, access is just gained by being another tab when my browser opens.  Quite frankly, it does get out of hand and it doesn’t bother me as much now as it used to.  I just get around to it when I can.  This mailbox is never empty.

When I got my iPad, I decided that this would be a lifesaver.  Rather than having to wait until I’m sitting at a keyboard, I could just grab the device and try to get caught up when I have a moment.  I’ve tried a number of different web browsers on the iPad – Safari, Dolphin, Diigo, Atomic, Chrome.  I tried them all with varying levels of satisfaction.

Then, Google decides to release a Gmail application.  Now, instead of just going in to email, another step is introduced to the process and that was “Download our App or …”.  Ever a sucker for suggestive purchases, I downloaded the free application and started to use it instead of the web interface.  It has a nice, annoying feature of letting me know just how many unread messages are sitting there waiting for me!  And, another really annoying functionality.

Then, I read about Mailbox.  It promises to revolutionize the way you think about email and promises to take you to mailbox zero quickly.  How can I lose?  Off I go to sign up and get a copy.  Not so fast, Doug.  There was actually a waiting list to get a copy.  So, I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

One evening, I’m watching #ecoo13 Keynote Amber MacArthur on AppCentral and she features the app, talking about its features.  I’m really excited, and without a word of a lie, I get an email indicating that my copy is ready.  I grab it.  I need this better way.

It was interesting.  I’ll admit that I’m not really a gesture person so I did have to do some work learning left and right swipes and long swipes.  It was a challenging paradigm for me to break.  Even with a device designed to be poked, prodded, and swiped, I’m still more comfortable clicking on icons to get the job done.  But, I stuck it out and the swiping does speed up the process.  I like the ability to delay mail until later.  This is good.  The good news for you is that the waiting list is no longer there.  Mailbox was acquired by Dropbox and you can get it right away.

I learned how to navigate and use the utility but quickly dropped it.  At the time, it was designed for the iPhone only.  These smaller applications, when multiplied 2x look really awful on the iPad.  I had actually forgotten about the application until I got a notification that there was an update this past week.  An update away and I was very pleased.  There’s now a native iPad format!  You have a list of emails on the left of the screen and the message content on the right.  The layout is landscape only at this time but it’s not bad.

But, the annoying functionality that the Gmail application has is still there.  It’s also there in the Apple native application.  Remember that I indicated that I use Gmail for Web 2.0 and social media?  What are these things but part of the web with links to take you here and there.  The applications don’t handle them internally.  Instead, they launch a browser, open yet another tab, and then you reach your destination.  I suppose it’s not a terrible problem to have if you’re just going to check out a link.  But, consider the scenario where you have all kinds of links to discover.  I’m always sticking them into my Diigo account, Instapaper, or just sharing to Twitter.  Even if you’re just checking out a link, you then have to leave the browser and go back to the email client to pick up where you left off.  I find this a real annoyance.

For the moment, this is my mail reading application for the iPad.  If the message that I wish to read contains links, I’ll leave it along and wait until I’m at a keyboard.  It’s a compromise, I know, but it works for me.

It’s no time to get comfortable.  From today’s reading – Do these screenshots reveal a heavily revamped Gmail for mobile and Web is on the way?  Oh, I love a good rumour.  And, if it’s going to make reading and processing email easier, I’m all over it.


OTR Links 05/26/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.