Dropbox will shut down its Mailbox email app next year, two years after it arrived in the iOS App Store atop a mountain of hype. The company is also shutting down Carousel, an app for syncing and sharing photos.
Explaining the decision, Dropbox said it is trying to increase its focus on collaboration. The Mailbox team alluded to this in its own announcement, saying that “we realized there’s only so much an email app can do to fundamentally fix email.” The team will now focus on streamlining “the workflows that generate so much email in the first place.”
As for Carousel, the team’s goodbye letter hinted that the app just wasn’t very popular. “[O]ver the past year and a half, we’ve learned the vast majority of our users prefer the convenience and simplicity of interacting with their photos directly inside of Dropbox,” the team wrote.
Why this matters: Mailbox was once a shining example of what mobile email should be, with an interface focused on swiping, and helpful features like a snooze button for responding to important emails. At its launch in February 2013, Mailbox required joining a waitlist just to use it, and Dropbox acquired the app a month later. Mailbox has since expanded to other platforms such as Android and Mac, but similar features have also come to other email clients, including CloudMagic, Google Inbox, and Microsoft Outlook.
Carousel wasn’t quite as unique among photo apps, though alongside Mailbox it pushed the idea that killer apps could lead to greater use of paid cloud storage. Again, it’s a strategy that larger rivals Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all espoused, with deep cloud storage hooks built into their respective products. It seems Dropbox is now abandoning that path, and focusing on “collaboration” instead.
What Mailbox and Carousel users need to know
The impending demise of Mailbox and Carousel could cause problems for heavy users, so Dropbox has posted some FAQs on how to proceed.
For Mailbox, the service will shut down on February 26, 2016, and all data will be deleted within 30 days. Users won’t lose any actual emails—those are still stored with Gmail or iCloud—and all lists will remain as labels in Gmail or folders in iCloud under the [Mailbox] header. However, any drafts written in Mailbox will be deleted, so users will need to save those manually before the cut-off date. Users will retain the 1GB of Dropbox bonus space they received for linking their accounts to Mailbox.
Dropbox says it considered open-sourcing Mailbox, but ultimately decided against it. The full FAQ for Mailbox users is here.
Carousel, meanwhile, has a shutdown date of March 31, 2016. From then on, users can view and back up their photos through the Dropbox app, though the iOS app doesn’t support album view currently. Flashbacks will no longer be available after the cutoff date, nor will shared albums, though Dropbox will release an export tool for the latter. Users will retain any bonus space they earned by installing the app. More details are available on the Carousel FAQ.
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Jared Newman covers personal technology from his remote Cincinnati outpost. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for help with ditching cable or satellite TV.
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