Almost 8% of the considerable amount of time we spend on our smartphones is on email. And most of us spend this time battling with hordes of emails that are threatening to overwhelm our inbox, with the mobile equivalents of wooden swords – apps that are lacking in performance, looks and functionality.
But that shouldn’t be the case. There are tons of well-engineered, feature-packed beauties on the Android and iOS app stores, that can make your email experience so much more efficient and effective. There’s just no excuse to stick with that basic email app on your smartphone.
With the sheer number of email apps available, it can be hard to know what’s good. So to help you save time, we went and tried out a bunch of them, and cobbled together a list of the ones we loved the most. Best of all, they’re free!
Our undisputed king of the hill. CloudMagic steamrollers its competition with a wonderfully simple and intuitive interface, a laundry list of features, as well as the option to integrate a whole host of email accounts, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Outlook in a single location.
Notable features include the ability to attach files from, and save files to your favourite cloud storage services, as well as the option to remotely wipe your data if you lose your tablet or phone. Users are also able to personalise their accounts with custom colour codes and signatures, as well as secure their email accounts with a passcode lock.
Photo: Ars Technica
Coming in a close second to CloudMagic is Google’s Gmail app, which we found easiest to use among the email apps reviewed. Google’s Gmail app mirrors the simple, fluid and intuitive interface of its Web-based cousin, with generous splashes of primary colours to brighten up the overall aesthetic. It also retains much of the performance and functionality that makes Gmail on the desktop so wonderful, such as blazing-fast search, threaded conversations, as well as Google Calendar and Drive integration.
The Gmail app for Android supports the addition of not only multiple Gmail accounts, but also IMAP/POP accounts, such as Yahoo, Outlook and AOL Mail. However, this feature is not yet available for iOS users.
Available on iOS and Android
Works with Gmail, Hotmail*, IMAP/POP accounts*
(*exclusive to Android users; Microsoft Exchange only available for Nexus users running Android 5.0 or higher. Accurate as of 1st Sep 2015)
Not content with simply revolutionizing the way we work with the files on our computers, the folks behind Dropbox have put their brilliant heads together to come up with Mailbox, their take on how email should be handled on mobile devices. And it’s amazing.
In a manner reminiscent of Clear, another app we adore, Mailbox utilises gestures to help you organise your emails quickly and accurately. A quick left swipe on an email archives it; a long swipe deletes it. Swiping right schedules the selected email to be reviewed at a later time. You can also group similar email threads in lists. This serves to minimize the clutter in your email inbox, leaving the truly important ones to be taken care of. Mailbox further reinforces its commitment to Inbox Zero with its “Help Me Get To Zero” button, which contains a number of mass-archive options.
The downsides? Mailbox is only available for Gmail and iCloud users. Apart from the Android and iOS versions, there is also a version for the Mac, which is currently in beta.
Hop aims to make email “effortless and natural, just like real conversation”, and they’ve done just that.
The app is divided into two main tabs. One is for conversations, and the other is for one-way incoming emails. In the former, email threads become IM conversations with your oft-emailed contacts, with individual emails encased in speech bubbles. It’s very much like messaging apps such as Line and WhatsApp, with options to attach camera images, as well as video and voice recordings. If your email contacts are Hop users as well, messages will get sent back and forth faster. You can also chat via voice and video calls. All these contribute to an email experience that’s seamless and intuitive like none other.
Though Hop works flawlessly on iOS devices, it stuttered rather badly on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 we used for this review. So Android users, you might want to wait for an update that resolves these performance issues before hopping (so bad, I know) in.
InboxCube claims itself to be “the mail app that puts attachments first”, which intrigued us. What does putting “attachments first” mean? And who would need an app like that anyway? We had to find out.
After a fair bit of fiddling, we were sold; InboxCube is like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Instead of the usual list interface, you are presented with a series of cubes, named “Inbox”, “Attachments” and “Contacts”. Tapping on an email in your “Inbox” cube shows its contents, together with tabs that display previews of attachments, photos, links and such in seamless, scrollable views. The “Attachment” cube displays previews of all your attachments in the same scrollable views, and tapping on an attachment will give you an option to load the email that it belongs to. You are also able to add cubes of links, starred emails, PDF files, as well as Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
These unique features organise all the attachments you’ve ever sent or received beautifully, and can come in handy when you have to search for pesky attachments from ages ago that you’ve since deleted from your computer.
Unfortunately for Android users, InboxCube is only available on iOS. If you’re an iOS user, it’s a great addition to your mobile email arsenal, and can be used in conjunction with other powerful apps like Gmail and CloudMagic.
Available on iOS
Works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL, iCloud, Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, IMAP