Unified Inbox: The App to Bring All Your Inboxes Together

I’m not only a confessed app junkie, I’m an email hoarder, too. I just counted the number of accounts in Thunderbird and there are a whopping 19 email accounts that I monitor for various reasons. That’s not to mention my various social media accounts. As you can guess, I am always on the lookout for the next great app and I may have stumbled upon one.

Enter Unified Inbox, a new app designed to bring all of your inboxes together. It’s currently free in invite-only beta, and let’s find out how Unified Inbox can wrangle your email and social media accounts and keep you on top of your game.

Getting Started

Since Unified Inbox is invite-only, you have to request an invitation on their website. I signed up a few months ago and received an invite about two weeks later. Once you receive your invite, setting up your unified inbox is a piece of cake.

Adding an account to Unified Inbox is easy

Adding an account to Unified Inbox is easy

One of the neat things about Unified Inbox is you can set up accounts to send & receive, or send or receive only. This is particularly useful for general email accounts that are monitored by multiple people. Then, you can add connections to other accounts, including Facebook, Basecamp, Google Calendar and even Dropbox.

Your Unified Inbox

Unified Inbox has a familiar look – your folders and connections on the left, a middle panel with your list view of messages, and a right pane with message details. You can re-size and move the panes around by dragging the corners just like a desktop app. Choose how to display your inbox with filters at the top.

The whole purpose of this webapp is to give you one inbox where you can get all your information. This is what my inbox looks like after adding one email connection. After adding more emails and accounts like Evernote, Twitter and Facebook, my inbox got a lot busier.

Your inbox with a message preview pane

Your inbox with a message preview pane

One feature I really enjoy is that Unified Inbox displays the Favicon of the email sender on the list view, as well as a “new” icon if the message is new.

Favicons and New icons next to sender in list view

Favicons and New icons next to sender in list view

Widgets

You can add widgets to your inbox by clicking the small plus icon in the bottom right corner. Currently, the only useful widgets are About the Sender and Attachments. The tabs available under About the Sender widget are: Profile with basic info, Related emails and messages, Notes, Statistics (exchanged messages and last contact date), RapLeaf details and FullContact details. I hadn’t heard of RapLeaf or FullContact prior to using Unified Inbox. So far those tabs haven’t had very useful information on most of my contacts.

About the sender widget in Unified Inbox

About the sender widget in Unified Inbox

Filters, Labels & Tags

If you have been spoiled by the likes of Gmail’s filters and labels, you will feel at home with Unified Inbox. You can set up filters for specific senders, subject lines and more, as well as tag messages and assign labels.

Adding filters

Adding filters

Templates

Unified Inbox has already included templates, which is something I rely on constantly. When you have a big collection of canned responses, templates come in handy quite often.

Creating a template from an email

Creating a template from an email

Address Book

Besides keeping all your email accounts wrangled in one space, Unified Inbox can give you a unified address book. All of your contacts from each connection will be added to your contact list so you can always find whoever you are looking for.

Contact details in Unified Inbox address book

Contact details in Unified Inbox address book

You can add details to existing contacts, such as adding a Twitter account to an email. There is also an option to upload contact photos, but I was not able to get it to work in Chrome. You can also easily print contact details if you ever have the need.

I feel like the layout of the address book is a little cluttered right now (especially if you add all of your social media and email connections), but that isn’t too big of a concern for me while an app is in early beta.

Compose a Message

I really like the look of the compose window – you have all the regular options like text styling, bullets, hyperlinks, attachments and templates. You can also add widgets to your compose window, although the only available one right now is About the Recipient. There are also sending options such as the ability to send at a later time, or send after approval from a team member.

Compose a message in Unified Inbox

Compose a message in Unified Inbox

Collaboration

As more work groups are moving into the digital age, collaboration within webapps is getting more standard. Unified Inbox is designed for you to easily share emails and integrate workflows with team members. It looks like connecting with other users isn’t available for me right now – I can’t click on the tab in the settings area to add a team or colleagues. I may be on a private account without the ability for teams, which is okay for me because I won’t be using these features with Unified Inbox.

Final Thoughts

It’s always fun testing out an app that is in beta because you get to see the early stages and help the developers work out any bugs. The only issue I noticed while using Unified Inbox was an occasional lag time that was fixed with a refresh.

Overall, Unified Inbox is a good app especially since it’s still invite-only beta. The development team is very active and Unified Inbox just acquire iOS app, HelloInbox to bring the app to mobile devices.

The website is a little sparse and doesn’t offer many details. Their blog is where you can find announcements and release notes, but it is not easily accessible from the homepage. There is no mention of pricing anywhere except on a page off the blog, where it says sponsored plans are available for private users (I’m not sure what that means – ads?) and that Unified Inbox starts at only $1 per month. I do know that Unified Inbox is free while in beta.

Unified Inbox is definitely an app to keep an eye on.


Summary

Unified Inbox is a social conversation and collaboration platform, allowing you to add emails and social media accounts to have one unified inbox.

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  • Hi Sydney,

    Thanks for putting our product through its paces! Especially the feedback part – that’s the bit that always makes the difference in beta.

    Be happy to sort out the team collaboration issue for you, because (in our humble opinion) it’s one of the killer features of Unified Inbox. As you point out, there are a number of companies who are working on unifying your communication streams; where we want to make a difference is to make it easier for a full team to work on that inbox – we really took to heart the saying “many hands make light work” :)

    And in case you weren’t aware, you have a great writing style. Look forward to hearing more from you.

    Cheers, Ursula
    Head of Operations
    unifiedinbox.com

    • For the record, Ursula helped me figure out where to add users so you can share emails and messages with them:

      First you will need to add the users, then you will need to give them permissions to work with the connections you have set up.

      Step 1 – adding users: Go to the Config icon in the bottom right of your screen and choose “users”. A dialog box for Adding a User to your team will come up.

      Step 2 – assigning permissions to users: Go to the the Config icon in the bottom right of your screen and choose “Emails and Connections”. At the bottom of your screen, choose “Add permissions”. Choose the accounts you wish to share, the people you wish to share them with and the rights you wish them to have.