Looking for the perfect mobile email app

Anyone who has ever read any of my posts on technology knows I'm pretty app agnostic: I'll use whatever suits me best and if something better comes along, I'll try it out to see if it suits my style and workflow on my computer, iPhone or iPad.

And because the default Mail app on iOS is pretty mediocre, I'm always on the look for a better email client. The problem is that I've never found an email client that does EVERYTHING I want, so I'm always using something that is about 90% satisfactory but still leaves me wanting that little irritating gap fixed.

The latest app to hit my phone has been Spark, by Readdle. I was fortunate to get in on the beta testing of this, and it does a lot right - or, at least, it does a lot that's right for me. It has calendar integration. It allows attachments from a variety of cloud-based storage services. It as app integration. It automatically detects signatures. It allows pinning, snoozing, and has customizable long and short swipes. It's getting a lot of favourable reviews and deservedly so.

In short, it has everything I want in an email client except one thing: Gmail Alias support.

I run my own domain (uh, that would be where you're reading this) and have my own domain email. I operate my domain email through Gmail and have Gmail configured to "send as" my domain account as well as import my mail from that account (and several other accounts). In short, I run all my email through Gmail, and so being able to "send as" my domain account on my iPhone is critical for me.

Google Inbox automatically detects my Gmail Alias and uses it. But Google Inbox runs too slow on my iPhone 5S for my liking. And it's doesn't have nearly the customizability of its swiping options to archive or delete emails (In fact, it's one OR the other, which is ridiculous. Sometimes I want to delete. Sometimes I want to archive. But Inbox forces one or the other from the swipe.) And no calendar or cloud services integration. It's email bundles and automatic sorting stuff is cool, but it's not something that I used very often (and, yes, I did try it for a while).

Mailbox also lets me use my Gmail Alias and has better swiping options. But it doesn't support other aspects of Gmails folder system, nor does it have calendar integration and such.

Outlook for iOS (which is what I currently use on my iPhone) has calendar and cloud services integration and overall, it's a great app and I really enjoy it. But after Microsoft took it over from its previous incarnation as Acompli, its swiping options have become less sophisticated, not more, because Microsoft dropped the short/long options for the left and right swipes. And that's a shame. (And it has a weird bug that prevents it from rendering a regular email that I get from one company consistently that renders properly on every other email app I've tried. Outlook's help team has been trying to identify the problem for a week now.)

Now Spark does offer up a work-around on the Gmail Alias thing, and yes, it does work, although it then breaks the continuity of my email by shifting my outgoing messages from my Gmail account to another account. But hopefully that's a workaround just until they actually implement alias support properly.

And lest anyone think this is me kvetching over nothing, email alias support is a huge deal on Spark's Twitter feed, as noted by this handful of examples.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to design the perfect email app, make it work just like Spark but add Gmail Alias support, or make it work just like Outlook but add short/long swiping options to the basic left/right options.


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