Gmail service Mailbox redesigns app with iPad in mind

After hitting 1 million users, the popular e-mail app sets its sights on making e-mail easy on devices of many sizes.

The new Mailbox for iPad.

Mailbox, the popular e-mail app snapped up by Dropbox earlier this year, has redesigned its app for the iPad.

The new app, which currently only works with Gmail accounts, has the same functions as the old app. It lets users organize their e-mail using swipe motions with the ultimate goal of reaching "inbox zero."

Mailbox CEO Gentry Underwood said there were a lot of requests for an app designed specifically for the iPad. Formally, users could use Mailbox on any iOS 6 device, including the iPad, but the layout was created with smaller devices in mind.

The new app takes the iPad's size into consideration, but also sticks to Mailbox's mission of simplicity. There are the same ways to quickly archive, delete, put e-mails in lists, and set messages so they will pop back up later for review -- the core of Mailbox's system for e-mail nirvana. The new app includes small but practical changes, like a bigger e-mail composition box and a menu drawer that opens up alongside the inbox instead of replacing it.


"What we've really tried to do is create a consistent experience that walks the middle ground -- that is used for lightweight triage and working as a makeshift desktop machine," Underwood said.

People use e-mail as an inefficient checklist, Underwood explains. They send e-mails to themselves as reminders and sort them into folders to try and get a better handle on what tasks they need to complete. That's why getting your inbox to zero -- something that 40 percent of Mailbox users reach at least once a week, according to the company -- is so important.

Mailbox pushes users to clear their inboxes as quickly as possible with its proactive swipe motions. Since theapp launched in February, Mailbox has racked up 1 million users and sends over 100 million message a day. Underwood said Mailbox is planning for more.

The company continues to work on apps for Android and desktop, and it's paying careful attention to the users of its new iPad app to determine the next features. For example, if a lot of users favor using several devices for e-mail -- spending time checking e-mail on their smartphones, tablets and desktop -- Mailbox would consider a feature that lets users save e-mails until later when they are on a specific device.

Whatever the next features are, the end result should be "the world's best inbox," according to Underwood, so instead of people seeing e-mail as a chore, people can use e-mail as an effective tool.

"When there are poor tools people feel inundated and out of control and so they react by hating the thing that's oppressing them...we want to replace that and by doing so replace the feeling of being overwhelmed with peace of mind," he said.