Email is undergoing a renaissance, of sorts. Perhaps the oldest social tool, email has the hardiness of the cockroach, and now is rebounding due to the rise of mobile.
Part of that renaissance is the stream of innovative companies seeking to leverage the gestural world of mobile devices. One new example is Handle (handle.com), which blends together email, calendar, and to dos into one intuitive package, and also supports desktop capabilities, at least on Chrome. I have also recently reviewed Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS (see The best Gmail client is Outlook? Really?), another innovative product.
Let’s start with the mobile side, with email. Here’s my inbox, and I’ve swept right to left on an email. opening options for the handling the email, synced with my Gmail account.
More interesting perhaps is sweeping left to right, which opens up the ability to turn the email into a to do, a calendar event, or attach a reminder so I might return and handle the email later on.
Here’s the reminder options:
Once emails are associated with a task, they can be deleted, or completed. Here I am deleting one from the project Next Steps, that I had defined earlier. Note this only deletes the task, not the email.
Here I am editing a to do, adding it to the Next Steps project.
Here I am completing a to do:
And here’s the calendar view, with an event that was created from an email. Note that these actions are all synced with my Google account, and with the calendar of my choice.
The Web Version
The web and mobile versions can be synced, but requires Dropbox as the conduit. That worked fine for me, but others might have to start from scratch with Dropbox, a possible headache.
Handle on Chrome has two modes. When you are on Gmail and you click the menu bar icon (after installing the extension), Handle opens right in the window with Gmail. Then, once you’ve selected an email, and you click on the ‘+’ icon to create a to do, Handle links the to do to the email, just as on the mobile client:
On any other webpage, Handle simply opens a new window where you can create to dos, and see your projects, and calendar events. There is no smart integration with Google Calendar. There is a rapid create tasks option, where you type todos one by one in a post field at the foot of the window.
The Bottom Line
I find that a great deal of my to dos and events are precipitated by email traffic, which is a strong case for Handle or tools like it. In my personal case, I wind up creating a large number of to dos based on webpages other than email — for example, a news story, or a vendor’s web site — a feature supported in Todoist which is my task management tool of choice, for this and other reasons (see Todoist, the small-and-simple task management tool, now supports task sharing with Todoist Next, and Small pieces, even more loosely joined). As a result of that missing feature, I couldn’t switch to using Handle instead of Todoist. Note that Todoist also supports Gmail integration, although not on my iPhone.
Nonetheless, if The Handle folks added that general ‘to do from a webpage’ support, I would be very, very tempted to switch, since I find myself working on my iPhone 6+ much more than I ever did on earlier iPhones.