I have eight email accounts, plus Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, which means I have many different browsers open at any given time to keep track of everything. What if I told you there is a one-stop shop that collates all of your email and social media accounts into one handy-dandy desktop application?
The app to rule them all is Inbox2, a free, open-source social email application that integrates your email accounts with your social media accounts. Let’s find out how well Inbox2 stacks up as a social email app.
Download the installer at Inbox2’s website and run through the wizard. The setup wizard takes a few minutes and then you are ready to start using the app.
The first step is to begin adding your accounts. This is quick and easy – Choose what type of account and enter your login details. Inbox2 does the rest.
By default, Inbox2 only downloads the latest 50 messages from each account. In the settings, you can tell Inbox2 to download all messages if you want. You can also set Inbox2 as your default email application, which means Inbox2’s compose window is opened automatically when you click on an email link.
Inbox2 also supports the conversation approach to email messages. You can easily enable or disable this feature in the settings.
Unfortunately, Inbox2 currently only supports one email signature. Hopefully the next release will allow you to add custom signatures for each account.
Inbox2 for Windows is nicely designed. The app feels intuitive and doesn’t have much of a learning curve. You have multiple tabs at the top: Home, Contacts, Documents and Photos.
The Home section is setup with your inbox in the middle, a left side for folders, productivity and labels, and a right side for social media account streams.
Your emails and messages are in the middle pane. One of the neat things is you can decide how you want to view your accounts: View all accounts, or view one at a time. This helps if you have multiple email addresses and want to get an overall picture, or if you want to streamline your email productivity.
The Contacts tab is set up very nicely. You have a total of five panes: Contact List, Messages, Documents, Status Updates and Profile. When you select a contact, the messages related to that person show up, as well as documents, social media updates and a profile card.
Photos and Documents
A very neat feature of Inbox2 is the ability to see photos and documents from your email and social media accounts. You can browse through emails and documents that are attached to your messages through the tabs at the top of the app.
Like most other email programs, Inbox2 comes with notifications. You can customize how long the notification window stays on your screen, and set a custom sound. However, you can’t set Inbox2 to only notify you about certain accounts, like only your email accounts, or only 1 or 2 email accounts. It’s all notifications or none.
If you follow many users on Twitter or Facebook, be prepared to get notifications every few minutes. I ended up turning them off because the notifications quickly became a distraction.
Gmail Labels and Inbox2 Labels
Currently, it doesn’t look like Inbox2 supports folders or Gmail labels. I have many filters and labels set up in my Gmail account and while they’re configured to be shown in IMAP, they do not appear in Inbox2. You can archive email though, and that feature seems to work properly.
Inbox2 supports labels inside the application which theoretically should match with Gmail labels (I think it should anyway, there is no documentation for Inbox2). However, when trying to add a label to an email message, I get an error message.
Inbox2 seems a little slow in comparison to Thunderbird or other email apps. According to my task manager, Inbox2 is currently using 63,000 K. On a fast machine, this isn’t a problem, but on a less powerful computer you will notice the difference.
Because of the performance issues, the icons don’t always show. By hovering my mouse over the tabs, the icons will eventually appear in the regular inbox. However, I have not seen any icons appear in the settings panel. Because Inbox2 is still in early beta, this isn’t a big deal and will hopefully be fixed in the newest update.
Inbox2 is currently in beta, version 0.5.0.1. While I’m not someone who is afraid of betas (Gmail was in beta until 2009!), there are some problems I’ve noticed with Inbox2. The missing icons is a small bug, which may be related to performance. But also, anytime Inbox2 sends you to a webpage (after uninstalling the app, or clicking the help icon), the page never exists.
Inbox2’s website is also very basic and provides no information or support. They do have a blog that was last updated in October 2011. Based on the website, Twitter and Facebook absence since October 2011, I’d say it’s safe to say development is currently stalled.
While development for Inbox2 seems to be hanging, hopefully the developers are currently working on a new release, or start to work on it soon because Inbox2 has a lot of promise and potential as a social email application.
In its current state, we’re rating 7/10 because while the price tag and current features are great and the potential is there, the actual app is less than stellar. There are still some bugs and with the developers missing in action, Inbox2 might be another promising application that goes the way of the dodo.