Smartphone Email Triage

For those of you who missed our 'email triage debate' on our recently-recorded CrackBerry Podcast, I'm following up here as I want to know your thoughts on this subject.

The Way It Is: I'd like to see BlackBerry 10 follow the precedent set by iOS and Android and allow for a user to swipe on individual emails within the inbox to take action on them. I'm a fan of the Android implementation where swiping left on a message automatically archives it, but you're presented immediately with an option to Undo the action in case you accidentally archived something. This makes it extremely easy and fast for me to to triage out all the non-important emails from my inbox (I also like the prominent placement of Mark As Unread in Android's Gmail app - I find everybody else makes that action too hard to find and I use it a lot when I'm mobile as I want to read a message but mark it as unread so I can reply in-depth when I'm at my computer again). And the experience is very fluid.

On iOS, swiping left on an email presents the option to Archive it, or to tap for More options which include Replying, Forwarding, Flagging, Marking as Read or Moving the message. It's not quite as fluid nor fast of a triage experience as Android, but at least you're taking action on the message where you tap it.

In contrast, I find the BlackBerry 10 email triage experience to feel a little mechanical and not as efficient, at least not on a message by message basis. The new BlackBerry 10 Priority Hub *definitely* does a decent job of helping to clean out the clutter of the inbox by only presenting important emails (I'm not complaining about the Priority Hub here!), but when it comes to clearing out an email or emails, it's a fairly slow and tedious process. You have to tap and hold on a message, then move your finger to the bottom right of the screen where the delete icon is. If you're deleting/archiving a message at the top of the display on a phone like the BlackBerry Z30 which has a 5" screen, you're moving your finger from the top of the phone to the bottom just to delete that message. If you want to delete multiple messages, you have to tap and hold on a single message, tap on the Select More icon, then tap a bunch of emails in the inbox and from there hit delete. While this can be efficient, compared to Android I feel it's slower than if I just swipe left on a bunch of messages in rapid succession. And I find that swiping experience to be more fluid and enjoyable than the select and bulk tap process.

Be sure to check out the Instagram Video I recorded (below) to see what I'm saying in action:

What I'd Like to See: Right now within the BlackBerry Hub, swiping left takes you out of the Hub and back to the homescreen. I get why BlackBerry chose to do this — it provides that visual cue that the Hub is at the far left of the homescreen panes — but it's not really a necessary function as you can still swipe up in the Hub to leave the Hub. Personally, I'd much rather see BlackBerry add this swipe on a message to Archive it functionality to the Hub than have two ways to exit the Hub. BlackBerry could maintain the current tap and hold functionality as there's no reason to necessarily get rid of it, but adding in the ability to swipe on messages to take action on them right there would really improve the experience of the Inbox. At least I'd prefer it this way.

Alternatively, this Swipe left to Archive/Delete/Close functionality could be extended into apps like BBM. I should be able to close a chat by swiping left on it vs. having to tap and hold and hit the trash can to end a conversation.

Interacting With EVERYTHING: In the lead up to BlackBerry 10, one of the things we were often told by the product marketing guys was that a key premise to the touch experience of BB10 was that you could manipulate and interact with everything. You should always be able to touch the screen and feel you're in control over what it is you're touching. On much of the operating system, this really is the case. The inbox is currently an exception to that rule, which is also one of the reasons I feel it could be improved with this implementation of gesture.

That's my take on it. I'm curious to hear yours. Let me know in the comments!