Hi everyone,

I’m incredibly excited to announce this… It feels like it’s been a very long time coming.

In the next few paragraphs I’m going to give you an update on our vision for how we can make your day easier, what’s currently in the mobile app, and how the team is evolving so we can increase the speed of updates.

ActiveInbox is becoming bolder

As a part of our process we turned our attention to what others had successfully done before us, and what was missing.

We found that we’re in a world where the most popular email apps are extremely pretty and useable, but do nothing to solve the problem of overwhelming stress that email causes. Meanwhile, the best task managers are calming, but isolate themselves from the actual sources of tasks in your life, making you do the hard work of keeping them up to date.

ActiveInbox is taking the second big step of its life by uniting an email client and task manager into one elegant tool, that puts you in total control of your world, and is ready to help you whenever, and wherever, you need it.

Let’s take a peek…

website-app-screens-01-1

website-app-screens-05-1

And now, the mea culpa

As part of our mobile work, I’ve been deep diving into early Apple mobile device philosophy. Starting with the iPod, their belief was to keep the device simple and leave all complexity back on the PC. But in the last 5 years, as we’ve come to use our mobiles more than PCs, that notion no longer applies. We want our mobile apps to be fully capable of everything we need.

This is one of the reasons it’s taken a while to get to mobile – something for which you have my absolute apologies.

The other reason was also a harsh reminder that “do things badly, do things twice”: We had an idea that if we built our mobile app over the top of mobile Gmail, we could deliver it much faster. But in reality, it was just too slow to use – too clunky – to ever be something we’d be proud to release. (It hasn’t stopped our competition mind you – I’m sure they won’t stick with the approach for long, but currently they seem happy to do so). So we had to throw out 6 months of work and start over, which was an incredibly tough decision. But boy am I glad we did.

The happy news for our future creations is that while ActiveInbox Mobile has been in development, our team has flourished. First, let’s take a moment to step back in time… we’re old enough to predate the release of the iPhone by a whole year! That’s a scary admission – it took us a great many years to get up to speed, as we bootstrapped along the way (i.e. grew out of donations, and later revenue, rather than investment, so we’d only ever answer to our customers – you!). In the last half a year especially, we’ve begun to assemble an extremely strong team: 3 developers, 1 product designer, 2 dedicated customer service people, 1 operations expert to unify everyone and a collection of friendly graphic designers and UX people to taste test what we produce. (You’ll notice an omission of marketing: that’s because in our hearts, we just want to focus on making the best product we can, and let its quality be the reason it spreads). Expanding the team has only been possible because of your continued belief in ActiveInbox – thank you.

So where are we with the beta?

  • There’s still lots of polish to give it. The devil is in the details, but I think we’ll all know when we’ve got it right, as it’ll just feel fun to use.
  • We are thinking of bringing a few more features from desktop, such as changing how lists are grouped into zones (e.g. by person, by due date); the ability to Send Later; and respecting more of your preferences (e.g. not to auto archive things from the inbox)
  • There are plenty of critical bugs to crush! E.g. It crashes occasionally, and for a small number of testers repeatedly (we’ve baked in a tool to send reports directly to us, so we can fix them without beta users having to lift a finger).
  • There are a couple of big usability questions still to figure out, such as the exact nature of Waiting and Statuses. We’ll tackle these in order, and dedicated all our minds to solving them one at a time. (We’ll ask questions on the blog, if you want to give your input!).
  • We’re aware that half of you are on Android, and we’ve already begun porting the underlying engine, but we want to perfect the usability on iOS before finishing Android (otherwise we have to fix two mistakes instead of one, slowing down both), and we found we could develop faster on iOS. The good news is that while we’re refining iOS, the underlying tech platform we use is rapidly maturing for Android, so it should be a much better experience for everyone. You can register to be a beta tester.

I’m truly proud of what the team (with your suggestions and support!) has created. Even in beta, it feels like ActiveInbox is the first email app that’s made me feel in control of life. But I believe we can do more. Let’s keep at the journey.

Download on App Store

Categorised in:

This post was written by AndyM

  • scott delinger

    Let’s take a peek, rather than a peak.

  • Roberto Catalani

    How about Android?

    • Hey Roberto,

      There’s a lovely big chunk of text above here upon which I cover such subjects as Android πŸ˜‰

      (Basically we had to make a choice – our user base is 50/50 iOS/android, and we can develop on iOS much faster).

  • skooldays

    How long will it be before we get an android version, do we have to wait for everything to be ironed out on ios first or will android follow shortly?

    • Hi skooldays,

      I can’t put a precise time on it – we did that before with mobile, and then fate hit us with a few unexpected blows, and people ended up very disappointed. To steal from one of my hero’s, Shigeru Miyamoto, the new answer is “when it’s ready” πŸ™‚

      But I realise that’s glib, so to give something more reasoned…

      We’re planning on figuring out a few more key usability questions with iOS first – essentially perfecting the experience – and then turning our attention to Android.

      It’s partly because that reduces our risk of having to fix a (usability) mistake twice, and partly because with the underlying tech we’re using, the Android platform isn’t mature yet, and so giving it a little longer should be a better overall experience for everyone.

      • skooldays

        Understood – No worries, you guys are awesome, so its worth waiting for. if you need android beta testing, do keep me on file as i would gladly give it a test and provide useful feedback for your developers

      • Sridhar Dhanapalan

        If I may make one suggestion: please make sure that the Android version feels native. Apps that have simply been ported from iOS make for poor user experiences and make Android users feel like second-class citizens.

        • Hi Sridhar,

          I definitely agree with you, and it’s something the team is really pushing for (I’ve been lectured!).

          The only caveat is that to get something into beta faster, the first release might not be as optimised for Android as it could be. We’d rather getting something out there and being battle hardened, then refine it in the weeks that follow.

  • Sridhar Dhanapalan

    Well done! I’m eagerly awaiting the Android version. I hope you will support Gmail’s Priority Inbox. It’s the main thing that stops me from drowning in my messages.

    Regarding not hiring any marketing staff, it’s a noble idea and I applaud your sincerity. However, I feel you could grow a lot faster with some targeted communications campaigns. I see plenty of more mediocre products generate buzz and have sometimes wondered why AIB doesn’t have that kind of profile. You punch above your weight but you deserve a lot more recognition.

    • Thank you Sridhar πŸ™‚

      We will turn to marketing in time, but right now that means perfecting AIB as a solution to our problems, and maybe doing some more blogging orientated around helping people too. We’re still constrained, and I want to focus on the things that matter (helping our customers!).

  • Peter James

    I’m really excited by this but am one of the people for whom the app just keeps crashing! I can’t open any emails at all. How can I help you to help me?

    • Hi Peter,

      We are seeing the regular crashes coming into our reporting system – it’ll take us a couple of weeks to address it, so please hang tight!

      (First, we have to figure out what’s happening – it seems like quite a precise combination of issues; then it typically takes about a week for Apple to approve the update going out).

  • Marcus Glynn

    I’m using the mobile app, on my iPad. It’s working great but obviously is that chunky look.

    A couple of things I would like.

    1. See existing labels in the inbox view
    2. Apply labels by swiping

    Thank you for creating this!

    • Wow! We hadn’t really focused on iPad yet, so it’s great to hear it’s useable πŸ™‚

      1. Can you clarify what you mean? And more importantly, what are you trying to solve with this – what work problem does it solve?

      2. This is an oversight – we’ll get it fixed up as soon as we can.

      • Marcus Glynn

        Thank you Andy,

        Obviously an iPad app would be better but it is definitely usable, yes!

        1. Sometimes I am not able to process my inbox emails (to get to zero) due to being mobile and having to user gmail without ActiveInbox. Now that I have this app, I would like to see the labels I have assigned or not and process them (!Action, !Read, etc)

        When an email comes back in with the !waiting On label, I would definitely like to see that

        2. Excellent! Personally, applying labels is more important to me than creating a task. The !Action label is my task list.

  • iuseamac

    Just looked at the .5 release–very nice. Good focus on the GTD portion. Will there be any more focus on the email portion, i.e., signatures, attachments, multiple accounts, etc.?

    • Hey!

      Yes, attachments should be in, multiple accounts and signatures are both surprisingly large jobs beneath the surface, but they’re major items on our roadmap. I hope within the next month to have something in progress.

  • Rosana O’Neill

    Hi! i love activeinbox and I tell everyone who will listen about it. I have one question regarding the app on my iphone. How can I switch the inbox its displaying. On the web browser on my mac, I can switch from inbox, to promotions, to social. The inbox on the app shows me all of them combined. Is there a way to edit this?

    • Hi Rosanna – it’s definitely on the cards, hopefully this week (although maybe next!).

  • HI Guys

    Let me say Desktop Beta 6 looks great and I love it.
    The AIB IOS app is getting there for sure.
    My only issue (but a big issue for many I guess) what I see on Desktop looks different on IOS.
    Eg.
    Desktop
    !/Action = 0
    !/Finished = 8831
    !/Next = 0
    !/Someday = 8
    !/Waiting On=0
    Waiting = 4

    IOS
    !/Action = 0
    !/Finished = 1266
    !/Next = 0
    !/Someday = 8
    !/Waiting On=0
    Schedule (Combination of Waiting and Someday) = 7
    As you can see very confusing and in a busy day you would not be sure you could trust it.
    Dale

  • Philip

    I have only been using ActiveInbox (browser version) for 2 days and already am a HUGE fan. I have downloaded the app for iOS an can not figure out how to access multiple email accounts. I have two business accounts (both are google apps) that I am using but on the iPhone, I can only log in to one account at a time. Am I missing a setting somewhere? If not yet available, can you give me an idea of where this is on the roadmap?

    Thanks

    • Hi Philip,

      That’s wonderful to hear – thank you!

      Multiple accounts are definitely on the roadmap, but it’s surprisingly complex! We’re fixing up bugs for single accounts first, then it’ll be the next thing. I’m hoping within a month.

  • Roman

    Hi,
    Totally love active inbox. I wouldn’t know how I’d be managing my inbox and communications with out it.
    I did just also down load the mobile version.
    Just one question and it’s really not that important, but is there a way to change the red color theme? The red just doesn’t look so welcoming. Red is nice as it alert you but makes ones email look like its a medical emergency.
    Otherwise I seem to be to busy using active inbox to have the time to make further comments and to give feedback but all seems to be working for me.
    Thank you so much for such an awesome product and also for the way to stay connected to all of us as a active inbox community.
    Roman

    • Hi Roman,

      I wonder if it has a bit of shock value? Personally I love it, but that’s after a few months of use… Could you sit with it for a few days and write back if you still hate it? πŸ™‚

  • RIch

    Badges not working, alerts not working, looking forward to the continued development.
    Any updates coming soon with the new IOS X

  • Switching between multiple email accounts please!