Have you ever been able to clear out your inbox as fast as you could blast Halo enemies or slice stuff in Fruit Ninja? Probably not.
It’s called “Inbox Zero Hour” and it connects your email accounts to a high octane, first-person-shooter video game to let you rapidly deal with your email while blowing off some steam. Think Halo meets the Mailbox app.
The Email Problem
Email is the granddaddy of productivity problems. Inbox overload makes everyone miserable and there are no shortage of email apps trying to help.
The Mailbox app was known for its 200,000 person waiting list before it was known for being bought by Dropbox for $100M. Then there’s Sparrow, Xobni, Mail Ninja, ActiveInbox, emailga.me, unroll.me, and sanebox. But ultimately, these tools just slow the bleeding because they don’t address the fact that email is so unpleasant to deal with.
People have tried to use game mechanics to tackle real world productivity problems. But most gamification attempts are what I call pseudo-games – they look enough like games to fool a VC out of his money, but are not actually fun enough for real people to use.
Your Inbox as a Battlefield
Inbox Zero Hour radically re-imagines the inbox UI as an addictive video game.
There’s no boring lists of text, each email is turned into a creature coming towards you on a post-apocalyptic wasteland. An advanced summarization algorithm condenses each message’s contents into a concise summary floating alongside the menacing being.
The Magic Responses
This is where a little bit of genius comes in.
The company analyzed over 10 billion emails with its patented Responsive Semantic Engine, and discovered that over 97% of possible inbound emails can be responded to with just 5 reply variations.
This is what drives the simplicity and speed of the game, you scan your incoming emails and choose one of these 5 responses:
- Got your email, I’m tied up all day, I’ll get back to you soon.
- Thanks for sending those summary notes. I agree with you on bullets 1,2 and 5, but I think 3 and 4 need more discussion.
- I can’t believe the way you backstabbed me in front of the group. Usually I like someone to give me flowers before they f**k me.
- The behavior you exhibited in that meeting would not be tolerated in a crack house. Get your s**t together or we’re going to have a problem.
- Please!! My wife has access to this email, so text me or Snapchat me instead next time (and yes, I like that thong)
Each response corresponds to a weapon (machine gun, blow dart, throwing stars, grenade launcher, slingshot) and all you need to do is scan the inbound emails/creatures, aim, and hit one of 5 hot keys to respond.
Real Email Results
Most importantly, this is not just a game. You connect the app to your accounts like any email client so it can process your emails and send your replies. It supports Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Exchange, and any standard POP or IMAP systems.
After just a few minutes of getting used to the flow, beginners can clear nearly 100 emails in 5 minutes, and experts can blast through over 400.
Not only are your emails handled, but you have the cathartic feeling of blowing them away.
There’s a second wave of features that the team has in the works, but those are still in the lab, so I’ll have to wait for a next post to share more…