In this brief piece I intend to show you why you should replace Mail in your iOS and macOS for something else. I am also going to present two different mail clients that you can use on both systems and have a seamless and awesome experience.
As a researcher on User Experience (UX) I am going to focus my analysis on the aspects of UX and ease of use overall.
Before we start, let me explain three things:
- I am Writing this on iOS, therefore the focus will be iOS and the piece will be real brief.
- I chose these two alternatives for the Mail app based on the experience on both iOS and macOS.
- I know Outlook is a great choice in iOS, but on the mac it is a time machine that throws you back to the 1990s and really sucks.
First thing first: You should ditch the default Mail app
The main reason for ditching the default Mail app in macOS and iOS is its interface and the paths you should go in order to achieve goals and complete simple tasks.
One example of the bad interface on the default Mail app is the non clear path to delete a message in Gmail. I am OK with the fact that the default Mail app was not built with Gmail in mind. But since if it’s possible to use it with your Gmail account, it should behave accordingly.
If you wish to delete a message, you should click on the folder icon (on iOS) and then choose the trash on the left panel. I guess the trash is treated just as any other folder. But for the user experience it should be treated differently.
Another bad thing about the default Mail app is signature management. I guess because it is a part of the iOS system, signature management on the default mail app is done in the settings of the system, not the app. This is somehow confusing. You can set up signature based on occounts, but I was not able to set them based on aliases (I have been using 4 aliases to my Gmail account and needed to use different signatures for each one. I guess it is possible to do that, but I did not figure out how. This is a UX problem right in front of our faces).
It’s confusing interface and poor signature management are enough for me. I did not need three strikes to ditch the default Mail app. So, it was decided. I was going to use a different client, but witch one?
Option one: Polymail
Polymail is an awesome and promising mail client. It is currently only available if you have an invitation (I happen to have 2, if you want one, please contact me). It is beautiful and very slick, but… There is always a “but”, right?
Well, that is true. For me there are three big concerns about Polymail that determined the search wasn’t over. The first problem was the interface when using an external keyboard on iOS. The interface kind of got confused when using an external keyboard and a lot of screen space is just wasted.
You can see the wasted space on the above image. Half of the screen is useless. That is where the virtual keyboard would go. But since I am using an external keyboard, it is just blank.
The second thing that turned me off of Polymail was the lack of starred messages support on Gmail. It can probably handle them, but I could not figure out how. And since I use them a lot, this was a big problem for me. I could not locate my starred messages in Gmail when using the Polymail app. So, this is a no for Polymail for me. Time to look for a different e-mail client.
The last (but not least) thing about Polymail is the absense of integration with the share menu. This is somewhat bothersome.
One thing that is great on Polymail that we can’t ignore is e-mail trackyng. It can inform you if an e-mail recipient has opened the message you sent. This is great.
But sorry Polymail. No deal (for now).
Option two: CloudMagic (now Newton)
CloudMagic (it is called Newton now) is another email client with great interface an macOS support. It works really great on both platforms. It is fast, responsive and very flexible. It handles signatures preety well (I can set up different signatures for each account and alias I use).
CloudMagic’s signature handling is not perfect though. You have to make eventual hyperlinks somewhere else end then copy them to the app. This is a problem, but a minor one.
A big possible barrier for the adoption of CloudMagic is that it is paid on the mac. For iOS it is free. For me this was not a problem.
CloudMagic offers another feature (paid anually and completely optional) that helps you to interact with your contacts on social platforms. I understand this can be useful for some people. Not for me. So I stick with the basic. And I am preety happy.
As I said before, there is always a “but” for every app you choose. Sometimes you could just live with it. In my case, with the default Mail app and Polymail, no. But it could be the case for you, so I recommend you give Polymail and the default Mail app a try. The default demands no effort at all to install and manage, but it lacks functionalities. Polymail works and looks really well across macOS and iOS. But the interface problems and lack of starred messages in Gmail are a no-go for me.
If you choose to use a 3rd party app you should consider that since it is embedded in the system, You can not just remove the default Mail app, but you can choose to use a different mail client. I would recommend you to use CloudMagic. It has a nice interface, it is lightweight and performs really well. I know you need to pay to use CloudMagic on the mac, but in my case, it’s worth every penny.