Unified Inbox Done Right on Windows Phone 7

Leading on from yesterday’s post about my first impressions of Mango Beta 2 for Windows Phone 7 I thought I’d share another notable feature, s”pecifically regarding the new “linked inbox” functionality which is Microsoft’s take on the unified inboxes you may find on other devices.

So let’s do a comparison against one of the juggernauts in the mobile market at the moment, iOS. At the moment, this is what it looks like:

Unified Mail Under iOS

Unified Mail Under iOS (iPad)

Basically, you can view all of your mail in one list using the “All Inboxes” option and then each individual inbox underneath. under the “Accounts” section, you can view the inbox of each account plus any other folders you might have underneath (like “Spam”, “Sent Items”, etc).

What has annoyed me is that you can’t pick and choose what you want to see in the unified inbox – it’s all or nothing. From my perspective, I’d like to keep all e-mail personal stuff separate from my work e-mail as well as my university e-mail. Needless to say, I’ve not really used the iOS unified inbox much. On Windows Phone 7 under Manga Beta 2 it’s a different proposition with a different name. Not only can you pick and choose which accounts form a “linked inbox” you can also have multiple linked inboxes for different groups of mail. This means my different sorts of e-mail can be unified by type or, if I choose, I can lump everything in together anyway.

Your new linked inboxes will also be replace your individual e-mail accounts on your home screen and app list. However, the underlying synchronisation settings will remain access through the account settings (so all e-mail accounts comprising a linked inbox will maintain their independent settings for how often they check for mail).

Getting a foothold in an industry can come down to how your empower your users to do things their way and diversifying your product from the rest and I think Microsoft done well on both counts.

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