I‘ve been wanting to try Boxer ($4.99) for quite some time. It’s just a shame it took me this long to get it installed because I’ve really grown fond of it. It’s the email app that makes me feel like I’ve got everything under control.
First things first. Let’s talk design. There are many, many email apps for iPhone and oftentimes the only thing that separates one from another is a better or worse design.
In Boxer’s case, I’m inclined to label the design as “upgraded.” What I mean by that is that the inbox view sticks to a tried and true (in other words familiar) basic look but adds some extras to make the email experience a bit more enjoyable. You’ve got your email subject in bold with the sender’s name above and a preview of the email’s contents below (2 lines worth). To the right of each message lives the sent time as well as the thread count (how many messages have been sent back and forth). Like I said, that’s all pretty standard in most email programs.
But here’s where the upgrades come in. To the left of each message you get an icon which will either be an image (if the other party has uploaded one) or a capital letter in a colorful box—the letter being the correspondent’s first initial. Either with a pic or with an initial, it’s an easy way to quickly sort through and find an email from a particular person visually.
Here’s a little Easter egg that took me awhile to uncover (did it accidentally, actually). Clicking on multiple icons (people’s pics or initials) will let you batch edit them. In other words, if I wanted to archive five emails at once I could select each using their icon and then swipe one to the left which would actually swipe them all to the left. Pretty cool.
Most email apps now feature swipe controls of some sort. Boxer claims to be the original (if I’m not mistaken) and the swipes are genuinely empowering, rather than gimmicky. Swiping left will archive a message while swiping further left will fully delete it. The world being the way it is, it’s possible that you could accidentally archive or delete a message which is why I love the undo option that briefly shows up along the bottom of the screen after taking such an action.
Swiping right is where the real magic begins. Swiping right will bring up an actions menu which will let you organize emails into a to-do list (including setting deadlines), apply a label (labels show up underneath messages), star or mark as spam. Those are all fairly basic actions, but there are some special actions which require a more detailed shout-out.
On the inbox screen, if you’ve assigned a due date to a message and haven’t completed it by the self-prescribed due date, you’ll see a nice overdue notice in red text to remind you to get it done. It’s noticeable, but just so. It’s not going to overpower your inbox view to the point of annoyance.
Boxer lets you “like” messages. It’s a quick way to let someone know you read their email without having to respond. I think of it as similar to sending a “Yo.”
There are also quick replies—an awesome feature for people who have to send repetitive messages (like a tech blogger, so naturally I’m a fan). There are a number of pre-canned messages to choose from, but it’s plenty easy to add your own.
The ability to send messages to Evernote without having to forward an email to your Evernote’s special email address is awesome. There’s a nice difference between a properly created note and a note that lives in Evernote but doesn’t quite live up to it’s full potential.
Another feature I’m fond of is the search bar at the top of the screen. While it may sound mundane, the last email app I used extensively hid the search bar off-screen—it took a downward swipe to reveal it. I’d much rather have it available straight away because searching my mail is one of the things I do most often.
At the top of the interface you can sort all your mail by: date, priority, due date and by who an email has been assigned to (I forgot to mention you can assign people to emails if you work as part of a team).
In the settings you can connect a few different accounts besides Evernote including Box, Dropbox, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can also customize your swipe actions and edit your quick replies (as mentioned a few paragraphs up).
As with any email program you’re not used to, it can take awhile to get used to using Boxer, but I wouldn’t let that stop you for a second. If you’re looking for a versatile, well-designed user interface that upgrades the stock options you are used to without overwhelming you, give Boxer a try. It’s my current favorite email app for iPhone and it’s also available for the iPad… I just wish there was a Mac version to match.