Now that iOS 6 has pull to refresh in Mail, the refresh button has been removed from the bottom bar. Being someone who always tries to find ways to utilize “dead space,” I thought about something that I would like to have easier access to from that view.
One area that’s difficult to get to in Mail is the folder hierarchy for each account. In other words, you can’t easily navigate to another folder within your account (inbox) very easily. The process to do that now is to go to the main page of Mail and go into one of the Accounts at the bottom of the list. That’s displacing if you’re already in the inbox view.
To make the process easier, I brought a folder button to replace the refresh button inside the inbox view. If you tap that folder icon, it will bring up the hierarchy view and allow you to switch to another folder right from the inbox view. If you have more than one inbox and are in the “All Inboxes” view, all the folders for all accounts will show. But if you’re just in an individual inbox, it will only show folders from that inbox.
You can always quit out of the view and return to the inbox you’re in. Easy peasy.
P.S. If you want an invite to Branch, click this link and “Ask to join.” Come discuss this concept with me there!
© 2012 Joshua Tucker
Based on the pictures above, I have proposed the following:
The main page of the Mail interface should be arranged in a hierarchal fashion. Inboxes can collapse and reveal folders within them, thus removing the need for an “Accounts” section. The space left empty due to the unification could be allocated for something such as an RSS inbox.
Note: I do not claim to be an expert or master on this subject. I’m still learning and eager for feedback. What has been written is based on my own personal analysis which includes my experience in this field.
I rest my concept on principle number nine from the book 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk
People believe that things that are close together belong together
As such, if the user feels that a component is connected to the main branch, they will understand its purpose in the interface scheme. This establishes familiar gestures, methods, or other types of user-initiated actions for more then just one part of a page.
One argument, that I would suggest to you, is that Apple’s aim is to unify iOS and OS X to make one single OS for the betterment of all devices. Although there may be no disagreement, this plays a significant role in how to move forward in both systems.
For a moment, let’s briefly evaluate how the Mac handles mail in the way I’ve proposed it for iOS.
- Inboxes are ordered in a hierarchal fashion
- These inboxes can reveal and hide folders based on clicking
- Whether hidden or in view, there’s a connection between what folders are with which respective inbox or folder (depending on how deep folders go)
In the name of unity, I would propose that this functionality could be beneficial in iOS. Tapping the inbox icons would reveal or hide certain sections, as distinguished by an arrow to alert you to whether it’s open or closed. Because each section would fall under its associated folder or inbox, the user would understand its connection and could more easily navigate through the various folders; a supporting factor to Weinschenk’s ninth principle.
This would relieve the “Accounts” section giving space for something else. Whatever that may be, in this case an RSS inbox. To prop up my thinking on this matter, I once again direct you to OS X to see what it holds.
Jumping to Mail once again, let’s head to Preferences. In this pane in regards to Accounts, we find the following.
- The Accounts section lists accounts that are added and are in the Mail application
- In this section, the settings of the accounts or inboxes can be changed and (or) updated
- There is no connection to actual folders or organization of them in any way
How does this play out in iOS? I would suggest that this mindset might throw off the user when using Mail. A new user could be confused by the notion of an “Account” section, where in the OS X example, only deals with settings and configurations.
When it comes to existing users, I feel that compartmentalizing sections and unifying components not only allows for better organization and gains space, but it moves parts forward to bring a unique but similar experience between all devices.
As for RSS, I chose this feature for the following reasons:
- It promotes unification with OS X and its functionalities
- Coming into one collaborate area is better for reading and dealing with notifications
One might argue that RSS should go into a separate application or in the Newsstand. I don’t disagree with having a different application, although for simple and easy RSS reading and managing, I don’t feel there’s a need.
Newsstand on the other hand, I don’t feel is the right place. The reason for this is because RSS is not just news. On that simple basis, it doesn’t fit. Also, RSS is generally just text and comes in as such. Because Mail doesn’t preview images and only shows them as attachments, keeping the feeds that work and perform similarly gives this sense of belonging or a reason to why it should be there versus another place.
Note: Adding favicon support is possible, however the icons would have to be sized correctly to fit the specifications (most favicons would be too small and would look distorted if stretched to size).
Also, RSS is not necessarily an end-game feature. This is an example of a possible addition.
Here’s a list of functionalities this incorporation could or would have.
- Unified inboxes and folders
- Collapsable sections - tapping the arrowed inboxes or folders reveal or hide them
- An RSS inbox
All iOS devices would support this feature.
“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” - Winston Churchill
© 2012 Joshua Tucker
Here’s my idea for extending options in the Mail application on iOS (oriented more towards the iPhone and iPod touch).
To view these options, you must be inside a mailbox. Simply pull down in the window field to reveal the options. It it will always start with the “Sort by X” section highlighted first. Tapping the particular section (Sort by X, Inbox, etc.) or dragging the highlighted underlay to another section (basically swiping) will allow you to switch between tabs if you wish.
Note: Just because you select that section means that it will show the options right away. In order to get access to any of the respective windows, you must tap the section header again. That also works to hide it once again.
In the case of these screenshots, you can choose how you want to sort your Inbox. Tapping the highlighted “Sort by Date” (Date in this case) will pop down a window. You can scroll down through the window and select what you want. Here is a list of all the options:
Also, you have an option of selecting Ascending or Descending order. Tap the section header again to hide the window.
Inbox, Sent, and Drafts:
This are also tabs that you can select. I will cover these in later posts — but, I presume most of you get the jist.
P.S. Concepts are always evolving, so stay tuned! Things I’m for sure going to do with this particular concept as soon as I pick it up again:
- Touch up and try to make it a little more clean
- Changing the box style (add arrows)
- Detail the Inbox, Sent, and Drafts tab
- Much more
© 2012 Joshua Tucker