Microsoft Outlook as a Mailbox Replacement – What’s Missing

21 January 2016 #Thoughts

In my search for a new email app an unlikely hero emerged; Microsoft Outlook.

Turns out that when not weighed down by legacy support Microsoft can make a really good application. Other email app developers are likely to either go out of business or be acquired (and then shut down). That’s not a concern with using Outlook.

Outlook for iOS does almost everything Mailbox did and sports a very light, utilitarian user interface as well. It’s not without faults, and really is only a few features away from being the perfect Mailbox replacement. Most of these missing features would help the app drill down on the “inbox zero” idea. Without them it’s easy to just let mail fester away in your inbox.

Here’s what’s missing:

  1. Better Badge Number Notifications – Mailbox had a notification setting to display the total number of messages in your inbox. Outlook only shows number of unread messages. Without a big red number reminding you to do something with those read inbox messages, it’s easy to let them sit there.
  2. More “Schedule” Options – Mailbox had nine “snooze” options for emails, Outlook has four. The one it’s missing desperately is “next week”. Almost all of my emails are work related so on Fridays and Saturdays if I’m scheduling emails, I don’t want to see them again until Monday!
  3. Bulk Schedule/Archive – Mailbox did this by swiping along a handle at the end of all emails. Would be incredibly useful because Outlook has a clever feature where it puts emails into two categories; “Important stuff from people you know” and “Email newsletters you really should unsubscribe from”. But there’s no way to Archive or Schedule all emails at once, you have to swipe them individually. To delete them you need to open each email individually! Speaking of which…
  4. Long Swipe for Delete – Desperately missing this feature too. The only way to delete an email is to open an email and tapping the icon. Speaking of which…
  5. Schedule Button in Email View – You can Schedule an email with a swipe but the Schedule button when viewing an email is hidden inside a dropdown menu.

Those five updates alone would help with the ability to achieve inbox zero more often and more efficiently. Secretly hoping this blog post gets read in Redmond.

(Note: Outlook for iOS is at version 2.1.3 as of writing)

While we’re talking email…

I just got into the Polymail alpha. This is an almost carbon-copy of Mailbox for OSX. I wish them all the best of luck!