Dispatch is my favorite third-party email client for the iPhone. Released in June, Dispatch stood out from similar apps as it implemented a powerful feature set that took advantage of native iOS apps to bring inter-app communication and snippets to mobile email. In September, the app was updated with iOS 7 background fetch, message search, and a change to individual message links that allowed iOS apps to open specific messages directly in Dispatch. Thanks other several minor features and details (such as custom salutations and link actions), Dispatch became a fantastic alternative to Apple’s Mail app for users who wanted more out of their iPhone email client.
With today’s 1.3 update, Dispatch gets even more powerful and versatile with the addition of a unified inbox: a feature that I had been asking for since the first version of the app, unified inbox is a new top-level item in the app’s sidebar and it groups all, unread, and starred messages from all your configured accounts’ inboxes. From the All Inboxes view, you can manage and respond to messages as usual, but you can also search and compose a new message without switching to an individual account’s view.
I am moving away from Gmail this week, and, in my tests with the beta of Dispatch 1.3, the app correctly configured my new accounts via IMAP. Thanks to Dispatch’s settings for folders that are synced via IMAP, I set the app’s quick move feature to archive messages into my new /Archive folder, and the menu worked reliably from the unified inbox for each account. Because of the issues I’m having with Exchange and the Archive button on iOS’ Mail app, I can enjoy the push notifications of Exchange through Apple’s app, but fire up Dispatch to quickly archive messages and create reminders for them.
The other big addition of Dispatch 1.3 is direct integration with Dropbox, Droplr, and iOS Contacts. When composing a message, you can now tap the arrow button above the keyboard to insert a contact’s information or a link from Dropbox/Droplr directly into the message. For Contacts, this means that you can scroll your contact list, pick a contact, and choose the field that you want to send over email.
Dropbox and Droplr integration is interesting. Tapping the Dropbox button will take you to the Dropbox app (if installed) so you can tap a file, generate a shareable URL, and place that URL back into the message – all with two taps. Switching between apps is automatic and you only have to pick the file that you want to share through a URL with someone else. For Droplr, Dispatch will ask you for your login credentials and it’ll then display a Droplr popup with thumbnail previews for all your previously uploaded files; tap one, and the Droplr short URL is inserted into the message. I use both Dropbox and Droplr for sharing screenshots and files with readers and coworkers, and I like the idea that the Dispatch developers had: I can save taps because I don’t have to move between apps and then paste URLs in Dispatch, and I can use the app to quickly reference files that I’ve already uploaded without using the Droplr app or Boxie.
The built-in actions have undergone significant updates as well. Links can now be tapped and shared on Twitter and Facebook, and link statuses and usernames can be opened in the official Twitter app if installed (it would be nice to have Dispatch doing this for Tweetbot as well). When you tap on a link from a message, the full URL is now shown in the action popup, and, if you’re logged in, you can shorten links with Droplr from Dispatch. For those who didn’t like the x-dispatch:// links that the app generated for individual messages in version 1.2, you can now choose to generate normal message:// or Gmail links from the new Copy Link menu (I like this change a lot).
Speaking of URLs, Dispatch has a new URL scheme to compose messages from other apps like Drafts or Launch Center Pro. The x-
dispatch:/// URL scheme comes with a new
compose? action that supports various parameters including From, Body, and Subject. The developers will likely post a documentation page for this, and, in general, this URL scheme opens up many possibilities for email automation and integration with other iOS apps.
At this point, I can only ask for Clean Shaven Apps to make an iPad version of Dispatch in the near future. With unified inbox, Dropbox and Droplr integration, more actions, and a compose URL scheme, Dispatch is great for the way I like to process email on iOS, manage my todos, and share files with other people. I’ve always been a fan of the developers’ willingness to integrate other apps and services into Dispatch, and with version 1.3 their app is solid and fast. Dispatch is $4.99 on the App Store.