Spark has been on a roll. Just a few weeks ago, Readdle significantly improved search in its popular macOS email client. Today, Spark 1.4 for macOS takes another step further into professional app territory with the addition of several useful integrations with third-party apps, while Spark 1.9 for iOS adds deep PDF Expert support and other functionality.
Posts tagged with "email"
Search isn’t the forte of many email clients. Too often I find myself resorting to gmail.com or the Gmail app on iOS to find a message because Google’s search is so good. However, a downside of Google’s approach is that it requires you to recall or look up special syntax to narrow your search using date, attachment, sender, and other parameters. An update to Readdle’s Spark for macOS avoids that pitfall with improvements to its search functionality that detect keywords in your searches as you type queries in plain English.
I haven’t used Spark’s improved search enough yet to give it a thorough review, but I like what I’ve seen so far. As you type a search query, Spark looks for keywords. For example, start typing ‘att…’ and Spark will suggest searching for attachments. Smart keywords include things like ‘to,’ ‘from,’ ‘attachment,’ ‘flagged,’ ‘forwarded,’ and dates. The parameters can be batched in plain English too, so I can type ‘emails from Federico from yesterday with PDF attachments’, and Spark knows to apply the sender, date, and attachment filters returning results almost instantly.
Spark is already a popular email client with a host of modern features, but the improvements to search have the potential to make a lot of new converts to the app.
Spark for macOS is available on the Mac App Store.
Microsoft Outlook for iOS was updated today with several new features, and Microsoft announced that another significant update would be coming soon.
The new feature that appeals to me most is quick reply, which makes the act of replying to an email resemble that of replying to a message in services like Slack or iMessage. At the bottom of each email there’s now a quick reply box you can tap in to begin crafting your response. No need for a separate compose window to appear, taking you out of the conversation; the full conversation is still in view, and you can scroll through it as you wish. I believe compose windows are largely unnecessary friction points that contribute to email’s poor reputation, so while a quick reply box may seem like a small change, for me at least it helps make email easier to deal with. One additional nicety included in the new reply interface is the ability to @mention to call out specific recipients.
Threaded messages in Outlook are now all uncollapsed by default, saving the extra taps previously needed to expand collapsed messages. Now when you open a threaded email you’ll be automatically navigated to the most recent message, so there’s no more need to scroll the full thread before finding what you’re looking for.
Outlook’s sidebar menu now includes a persistent column listing all of your different accounts, making it easier than ever to switch between different accounts. The updated menu also brings more convenient access to folders than was previously available.
These changes are rolling out progressively to all users, so you may not see them immediately.
One other upcoming change Microsoft announced today is that search will soon receive a major upgrade. Outlook’s main navigation tabs will be updated to include only Mail, Search, and Calendar; search’s more prominent placement in the app will be justified due to it including more than just email results – you’ll also find results for people, files, and intelligent information about things like upcoming flights or package deliveries. An exact release date for the new search features wasn’t announced, but Microsoft says it is coming soon.
In my iOS 11 wish list for iPad and concept video, I focused on system-wide drag & drop – a feature that could reshape how iPad users move documents and data between apps. Readdle, makers of the popular Spark and PDF Expert, aren't waiting for Apple to add a native drag & drop framework to iOS, though. Today, in addition to the release of Documents 6, the company is updating most of their iPad apps with a custom drag & drop feature that simplifies the transfer of documents between two apps in Split View. I've been testing this functionality for the past week, and, even if it's not system-wide iOS drag & drop, it's been enough to pull me back into Spark and PDF Expert – at least for now.
Newton, the email client for power users, today launched Amazon Echo integration with an Alexa skill. The skill enables email management with nothing but your voice; in addition to having Alexa read emails to you, you can perform the following list of actions by voice:
- Mark as read
- Mark as spam
Replying to or composing new emails is not possible with Alexa, but personally, I don't think I would trust a voice assistant to write my emails anyways – at least not until the technology grows more foolproof. The option to perform simple actions by voice, like archiving or snoozing messages, is much more appealing.
Newton's expansion to Alexa-equipped devices follows the introduction of a Windows version of the client in beta form earlier this week. As a daily Newton user, I wrote about the iOS and macOS versions last Friday for Club MacStories members, and look forward to seeing the service continue to grow and improve.
The hallmark feature of Readdle’s Spark email client for macOS is its Smart Inbox, which is designed to surface important email messages intelligently. That feature, along with a unified inbox and swipe gestures for common actions, goes a long way to simplifying email management. Nonetheless, email is one of those areas where personal preferences matter a lot. People are particular about how their email is organized, an area that was underserved by Spark. With version 1.2 for macOS, Readdle has begun to tackle email organization, which should make Spark a more attractive option for people who like Spark’s approach to email but want a little more control over how their messages are managed.
Today as it launched version 2.1 of Outlook for iOS, Microsoft announced a new feature for the app: add-ins. Add-ins are a form of integration with both third-party and first-party services that provide multiple new ways to manage your email, and they're available only to Office 365 customers.
Airmail, the most powerful email client for iOS and my 2016 App of the Year, has made integrations with third-party apps and services the central element of its experience, allowing users to deeply fine-tune their email workflows. With version 1.5, launching today on the App Store, the developers at Bloop are further expanding Airmail's integration roster with the ability to create custom actions as well as Workflow support to craft automations tailored for messages shared from Airmail.
Competition among email clients on the Mac and iOS has heated up over the past couple of years. With that comes innovation, making email clients one of the most interesting app categories.
Today, Readdle released Spark for Mac, bringing its popular iOS email client to the Mac for the first time. Spark excels at bringing order to the chaos of your inbox and providing tools to help you quickly triage common types of email individually, or in bulk. But perhaps the greatest benefit of Spark for Mac is that it’s a solid free solution for fans of the iOS version of the app who felt constrained by the lack of a macOS version.