Offering a new alternative to the standard mobile email experience, the SquareOne Mail app aims to make e-mail less overwhelming. Launched on March 4, the app expands on Gmail’s Priority Inbox concept by only notifying users of relevant e-mails.

One-Touch Zone Activation

Mail is sorted into zones similar to Gmail’s Priority Inbox filters and labels system. SquareOne then allows users to switch notifications from each zone on or off with a simple swipe. This system seeks to address what some consider to be a shortcoming of Google’s priority distinction: what’s important at noon on a Tuesday is different from what’s important on a Saturday night. Those who do not want to view work e-mails after-hours can swipe their “personal” folder on and swipe off “work” to ensure that e-mails are delivered only when appropriate.

The Psychology Behind the App

SquareOne’s Founder and CEO Branko Cerny based the mail app on principles he learned as a psychology major at Dartmouth College. “We get too much e-mail, and e-mail overload prevents [the] brain from functioning optimally,” he said in a press release announcing the new app. “It takes five to ten minutes to recover and refocus from every e-mail distraction.”

Cerny references a study from the University of California, Irvine on e-mail and its effects on productivity, which found that average office employees check their e-mail 36 times per hour. E-mail is addicting, the researchers say, and frequent e-mail checkers are simply seeking the dopamine reward that a new e-mail offers. In addition to the distraction, Cerny holds that a disorganized inbox puts unnecessary strain on the brain: “We use up cognitive energy sorting and prioritizing e-mail in our mind only.” Thus, teaching an app to complete this task should clear the brain and allow for greater productivity.

Getting Started

SquareOne does require some input from the user to get started. While loading e-mails, the app shows users statistics on their e-mail usage. There are generic folders pre-loaded on the app, or users can create their own as you see fit; then, swipe emails into various folders to train the app on how you want your emails sorted. Because the app needs to be trained, SquareOne may be best suited to those who receive a high volume of e-mail, “but not necessarily unsolicited e-mail from hundreds (or thousands!) of senders,” according to TechCrunch.

SquareOne the Latest in a Series of Mail Apps

SquareOne Mail is far from the first mail app designed to offer a better organizational system. One year ago in March 2013, Dropbox acquired e-mail manager start-up Mailbox for $100 million, according to Wired, demonstrating the potential for more development in this area. At the time, Mailbox was hailed as a revolutionary change in a much-needed area, allowing users to “snooze” e-mails for later reading to attain an empty inbox. In a sense, SquareOne provides a similar service, but it performs the snooze step for users automatically once it has been trained. A host of other options for a more manageable e-mail experience have also surfaced, including AwayFind, Boomerang, Boxer, Handle, SanBox, and Skimbox.

SquareOne is currently available for free for Gmail users with Apple devices running iOS 7.0 or higher.

Image courtesy of SquareOne Mail


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