Yes, yes, email is still broken. Despite some innovative ideas about how to fix it and some awesome apps that have cropped up over the past several years, too many of us are still slaves to our inboxes, stuck in a Sisyphean cycle of archiving and responding, only to find emails replaced in a matter of hours… or minutes. And lo and behold, here comes another app out to fix it.
The latest app to take on the task is Boxer, which was founded by Pyra/Google/Thing Labs/AOL veteran Jason Shellen, along with OtherInbox alum Ian Ragsdale and the team behind email app Taskbox. The app, which goes live today, is designed to give users more powerful task-management and to-do options while tackling email.
Fundamentally, the Boxer team sees email as a “to-do list that anyone can add an item to.” And so, it seeks to do something about that. Boxer goes beyond just simple email triage — something that Mailbox perfected with its swiping motions for archiving, deleting, and snoozing items in your inbox. Boxer can do that, too, but it gives you lots of other options for what you can do with your mail.
For instance, users can add an email to a to-do list, and set a date for accomplishing a certain task associated with it. Or they can make a request of others to handle it. In either case, Boxer lets users create deadlines and assign priorities to items that are placed in these categories.
Users can also “like” emails sent by others, quickly letting them know that they’ve received an email. There’s also a list of quick responses you can send. Boxer has provided a basic list of common quick responses, but they can also be customized.
Unlike Mailbox, which today only works with Gmail and Google Apps, Boxer connects with a number of different email services. That includes Exchange, Gmail and Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, Apple’s iCloud, AOL Mail, and Microsoft’s Hotmail. It also has Dropbox integration to enable users to automatically share files from their cloud folders.
One other big advantage is that Boxer provides detailed profiles of your contacts, integrating information from your Contact Address Book, as well as Facebook or LinkedIn if you’ve connected accounts from those networks. It provides links to their social profiles, as well as quick links to messages they’ve recently sent, and icons for calling, texting, or emailing them.
I’ve been using Boxer for just a few hours to test it out*, and while there are things I like about it, at times I found it a bit confusing. Adding ways to quickly respond and notify others that you got their emails was a plus. However, the dashboard for controlling to-dos and requests wasn’t laid out as well as I’d hoped, and frankly, those features just added an extra layer of complexity to the process of sorting through email.
If the goal is to make managing email easier, well then, adding another layer of to-dos or requests on top of this already horrible, arduous task just doesn’t seem like the best way to reduce complexity. But hey, maybe that’s just me. I like being able to breeze through mail without adding it to another list and giving it a priority.
Anyway, the team is based in Austin and has seven employees. The Taskbox team had raised about $800,000 in seed funding before working on the new product.
* And admittedly, just a few hours is never enough time to truly test an app out… I mean, you need a couple of days before your behavior really changes enough to make any app’s value add actually add value.