The Quest for the Perfect Email App

I have loved Mailbox since it launched back in 2013. I used it on my first smartphone, and then it was the first app I installed when I moved to an iPhone later on down the line. When Dropbox bought it I was ecstatic. I love the idea that my cloud storage and my email could be integrated.

The troubles started this past Spring. Dropbox changed it’s positioning, going after enterprise clients rather than consumers. The Mailbox Mac App (which was forever in Beta)  and iOS app got incredibly glitchy. Then iOS 9 launched in late Summer…..and nothing happened.16129442558_ac53fc5b4b_k

Neither app received an update for the new OS. And that’s when I knew I had to start thinking of jumping ship. Right around the same time CGP Grey and Myke Hurley were “Conflicted About E-Mail” on Cortex for similar reasons. I tried a number of their suggestions, and ended up right where they did: with Apple Mail.

It doesn’t have snoozes. It’s swipe gestures make no damn sense. And it’s UI is questionable at best. This is not a sexy e-mail of the future app, or an efficient triage-based system or even an integrated enterprise solution. However, it’s already taking up space on my devices.

And the thing is, I don’t think I’m the only one that made the decision based solely on that last point. I think many (if not most) users just use Apple’s default Mail apps on their devices because they’re there already. And that would be fine….if they were reliable.

Mail_iOS.svgApple and Google are infamously not good friends. And Google’s Gmail is one of the most popular e-mail services on the planet. So what happens when you build a client that could be used with your competitor’s service? You throttle their usage of that app of course. That’s why Gmail accounts can only refresh every 15 minutes in Apple Mail, and only on days that the two companies’ servers are getting along.¹

So, now I’m stuck running both my personal email account and the address for this show through a system of servers that my Mail client doesn’t like. And the best multi-platform solution to that problem is being shut down.

This is a problem I’ve created for myself. I used a proprietary e-mail service. And that’s problematic. However, the vast majority of iPhone and Mac users are using Gmail for something. Even if it’s just their junk mail account or a side project. And if the two can’t play nicely then I’m honestly not sure I’ll ever be happy with e-mail again.

¹ For about a month after iOS 9.0 was released, the iPhone and iPad versions of Mail would “fail to connect” to Google’s servers (and only Google’s) at random until the user rebooted their device. This doesn’t just hurt their competition, it actually makes Apple look bad.