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…
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.
This was written by Andy Mitchell