Email news this week: Twitter cards, Tabbed Gmail inbox, Triage for iPhone

There were quite a few things of note going on in the email world this week.

Gmail unveils new tabbed inbox

First up, Google unveiled its new inbox design which features tabs for separating personal mail, social media stuff, updates and promotional email.

Image from Mashable
Image from Mashable

Google announced the new look on its Gmail blog and says that it will be rolling out the update “gradually” on the desktop. Updates for iOS and Android will be available in the next few weeks. Users that don’t want the new look on the desktop can switch back to the classic view. — Mashable

One on level, this makes it easier for people to ignore email newsletters that get routed to the ‘Promotions’ tab, and it also strikes me as a little weird that the algorithms have been created by Google and you can’t edit them in any way. However, it could also mean good news for email marketing, as users won’t be so overwhelmed by their email, and may wish to happily sort through their Promotional email at a time that suits them. As Co.Design‘s Kyle Vanhemert wrote:

“Today, though, our inboxes are choked with a different sort of spam. These aren’t scams and supplement ads but messages we might actually want to read at some point–things like newsletters, catalogs, daily offers, and social media status updates. They don’t require our immediate attention, but they may be of value to us. This isn’t spam, exactly. In many cases, we asked to receive it. And it’s not entirely useless stuff, either–among those dozen unread Living Social emails, there’s a chance that there might be a really good one. Which is precisely why we leave the things sitting there, unread, to be processed later.”


Triage is another development reflecting the myriad ways in which we’re trying to figure out how to deal with our email.

Image © MacStories

Triage is an app that is supposed to complement your existing email app on iPhone. It’s simply a tool for sorting your email before you actually process it properly and it only has three actions: Read, archive or keep unread.

With Triage users are therefore flicking very quickly through their emails and deciding which ones to kill and which ones to keep. So what does it look like when you get to marketing messages?

Well, the first thing I noticed is that they take AGES to load. Lots of time was spent waiting and waiting.. and nothing loads. But you can still sort emails which means many might get sorted based on subject line and sender name alone.

The second thing is that it only displays the text-only version of your email — some of which, I noticed, are not really great.

Finally, it only displays a line for the Sender and a single line for the Subject plus a tiny box for the content, so there isn’t really much room to shine in this environment.

Only plain text is rendered in Triage
Only plain text is rendered in Triage

So if apps like this take off — and I did actually find using it really enjoyable — then we need to start paying even more attention to

  • sender name
  • subject line and
  • text-only version

Twitter cards

Finally, from a subscriber angle, Twitter has introduced lots of different types of ‘cards’ that essentially turn tweets into posts containing video, images, galleries and other features common on other social media platforms.

An interesting one for email marketing is the lead generation card, which allows users to do things like sign up for daily deals, right from within a tweet.


Twitter says:

When someone expands your Tweet, they see a description of the offer and a call to action. Their name, @username, and email address are already pre-filled within the Card. The user simply clicks a button to send this information directly (and securely) to you.

At the moment it’s only available to their managed clients but they are apparently looking to expand the service to small and medium sized businesses soon.

How does Mailbox app render responsive HTML emails?

Edit: As of October 2013, Mailbox no longer features full support for media queries. It has been patchy and problematic for the past couple of months, Mailbox are apparently aware of this but there is no known upcoming fix. For the time being, sadly, Mailbox simply does not support responsive emails., the popular mail app for iPhone, only supports one method of responsive HTML email development.

Previously, I used both of these methods interchangeably:

First method: using ‘align’ on tables

Second method: using “display: block” on <td>s

Here are the media queries:

The results in Mailbox show that only the first method actually works.

It’s also worth noting that because of the extra background on, emails display within a narrower 612px width (on a Retina display; 306 on non-retina).

Comparison of how each client renders responsive email HTML
Comparison of how each client renders responsive email HTML