The Gmail app for Android is improving greatly. Now you can archive messages with just a swipe gesture, and browse individual labels more efficiently thanks to the new Holo layout. Unfortunately, it seems there are still things left to be desired. Boomerang (for Gmail) aims to address that by offering several additional features that you don’t get in the stock Android app.
What is it and what does it do
Boomerang is yet another Gmail client for Android, albeit with some extra features. Namely, it includes a unique function for which it is named after. By tapping the boomerang icon, you can clear messages from your inbox, and then they will be bounced back to you later. For example, if you have an email reminder that you would rather get in an hour or two, you can just boomerang it. You can also schedule emails to be sent at a later time, like when you’re sleeping or when you’re on your morning commute.
- Attractive and minimal Gmail client
- Includes several unique features
- Boomerang emails, or send them out to be sent back to your inbox later
- Schedule emails to be sent at a later time
- Use advanced gestures in the primary inbox to access additional actions
- Snooze email messages, or boomerang a composed message to yourself
- “Boomerang’d” messages are synched with the company’s servers and can even be sent while you’re offline (if they are scheduled), if you’re not comfortable with this don’t use the app
- Uses nearly 60MB of RAM while running compared to Gmail’s 12-15MB
- No widget support, and Android widgets are certainly convenient
- Only localized for the English language, which probably also means it won’t be supported in many countries
- It isn’t compatible with other email clients, but the developers have stated they are working on adding support
I could write a book on the Boomerang email client in general; howeever, instead of focusing on the features that are similar to the Gmail app, I’m only going to highlight what makes Boomerang different. Don’t worry, it will still be quite the comprehensive review.
The first screen you see when starting the app is the login screen. The app will show you the default account associated with your Android device, or you can enter another. At this time, Boomerang only works with Gmail accounts. That means you cannot use it with AOL, Yahoo or other email clients. It’s not designed to be a universal client either. Instead, it’s meant to be an extension of Gmail. According to the developers however, they are working on adding support for “Exchange/Outlook, Yahoo, and other providers.”
Tapping on the default Gmail account associated with your device will bring you to a generic Google login page. The application will then ask for permission to access your Gmail account and to manage emails. If you’re not comfortable with another application handling your emails, then this is where you should bow out. Unfortunately, Boomerang does need access to your account in order to operate properly.
After the account is all setup the application will provide you with a short tutorial for using the client. It’s pretty straightforward honestly, and a lot of the features are quite similar to the stock Gmail app. If you’re used to Gmail then you’ll have no problems at all whizzing through Boomerangs interface.
The UI is remarkably minimal, I would almost say more so than Gmail. That being said, the colors are certainly more attractive and so is the default font. Once you swipe through the instructions in the tutorial, Boomerang will spit you out into your primary inbox.
Unlike Gmail, nothing is filtered, except for emails that you have filtered automatically. What I mean by that is I have a filter on my Gmail account to intercept all emails from Dottech and drop them into a specific label. They never show up in my primary inbox, instead they fall right into the label box. In addition, with the new Gmail app your inbox is filtered by primary, social, and promotions.
Through Boomerang, my Dottech emails are still filtered to the specific label for which they are assigned, however all secondary filters are not active. My inbox shows all promotions, social notifications and primary emails. If you’re used to the new Gmail app this might be a bit of a turn-off, but I find it to be much more efficient.
At the top of the window you can tap a software button to open a side-menu. It works just like the side menu in the Gmail app and includes all of your filters and different email folders. There’s also a search function at the top of the menu to locate specific content.
Here’s where Boomerang gets a lot different. When browsing your inbox, or any filtered inbox for that matter, you can swipe from left to right to archive a message instantly. You don’t even have to read the related message, and you can undo the action with a quick access button if you make a mistake. That’s similar to Gmail, so I know you’re probably thinking- big deal. If you swipe in the opposite direction, from right to left, a quick menu opens with even more actions you can perform. Through the quick menu you can archive, delete, boomerang, label, mark as read/unread, and favorite emails. Trust me when I say the quick menu allows you to be so much more efficient. You’re no longer constrained to one option when using a swipe gesture. You can just swipe in the opposite direction and delete, or label an email from the inbox.
The boomerang feature allows you to remove any email from your inbox, which will then be resent to you at a later time. This is useful if you’re out and about and you get an email regarding work you need to do when you get home. You can boomerang the related message, and have it land back in your inbox later in the evening when you have time to do the work. It basically helps serve as a quick reminder for various messages.
When you tap on the boomerang function, you can choose from a predefined list of time options like ‘tonight at 7pm’ or ‘2 weeks,’ or you can enter a custom time that’s more specific. You can also set the app to boomerang an email if there is no response. Once you’re done setting up the boomerang options, all you need to do is hit ‘save’ and the app takes care of the rest.
Similarly, when composing emails you can choose to send it later instead of right then and there. The same time configuration options apply, with several predetermined options available and a setting to enter a custom date and time. The feature is pretty self-explanatory from there, the message will be sent at the scheduled time whenever that may be.
You can also boomerang emails that you’ve composed to remind yourself to send them later. It’s useful for times when you don’t want to trust the application to do the work.
You can also track responses to your most important emails.
One thing in particular that I would like to see, perhaps in a later update is the addition of a homescreen widget for use with Boomerang. I usually drop a widget on my main page for Gmail, but I cannot do that with Boomerang because it doesn’t include any widgets currently. Seriously, Android is all about the widgets.
For reference, Boomerang uses 60MB of RAM when running.
Conclusion and download link
Boomerang is a convenient and useful client for Gmail. The interface is attractive and so is the default font. The colors are certainly more appealing than the stock Gmail app. Boomerang also offers more functionality than default Gmail app, l with the advanced gestures, boomerang function, and scheduled messaging. The boomerang function comes in very handy, especially when you get an email at the wrong time and would like a reminder to respond to it later. However, all the extra features clearly contribute to more RAM usage, because Boomerang uses 60MB compared to stock Gmail app’s 12-15MB. There are also no widgets included with Boomerang, which is a shame because lots of Android users take advantage of the Gmail widget. Still, overall, Boomerang is useful Gmail client and one that is worth checking out if you are looking for something more than what is provided by Android’s stock Gmail app.
Version reviewed: 0.6.1
Requires: Android 2.2 and up
Download size: 4.7MB