This week's sponsor

Just Press Record

Record. Transcribe. Sync.


Posts tagged with "email"

Google Is Discontinuing Its Inbox Email App in March 2019

Google launched Inbox in 2014 as a place to experiment with new email features, some of which made their way into the company’s Gmail app eventually. Although it served as a sandbox for trying new features like email snoozing, Smart Replies, and Nudges, Inbox was not updated nearly as frequently as Gmail. So, it wasn’t surprising to hear from Google yesterday that it plans to end support for Inbox at the end of March 2019.

If you are an Inbox user and want to move your email accounts to Gmail, Google has created a transition guide.

Permalink

Newton Mail to Shut Down Service September 25th

Newton, which began life as CloudMagic in 2013, will shut down its email subscription service on September 25, 2018. According to the company’s CEO, Rohit Nadhani:

We explored various business models but couldn’t successfully figure out profitability & growth over the long term. It was hard; the market for premium consumer mail apps is not big enough, and it faces stiff competition from high quality free apps from Google, Microsoft, and Apple. We put up a hard and honest fight, but it was not enough to overcome the bundling & platform default advantages enjoyed by the large tech companies.

CloudMagic was relaunched as a subscription email service and renamed Newton in 2016. According to Nadhani’s post, the company, which offered iOS, Mac, Android, and Windows versions of its email client, served over 4 million customers, 40,000 of whom signed up as paying subscribers.

In anticipation of the shutdown, the company has disabled signups to its service and is working with the App Store and Google Play Store to offer pro-rata refunds to annual subscribers whose subscriptions are set to expire after September 25th. Nadhani says that CloudMagic will continue to work on new projects.

Email is a tough category in which to compete. Default applications like Apple’s Mail app don’t give most users a reason to look elsewhere, and users that do want to try a different email client have many excellent free options from big companies like Google and Microsoft. For the remaining users willing to consider a paid email service or app, the competition is fierce with excellent choices like Airmail and Spark. The end of Newton is a reminder that no business model is a safe bet and even those apps and services you may be willing to pay for can’t last if others don’t feel the same as you.


Spark 2 Hands-On: Email for Teams with App Integrations

I've made no secret of my complicated relationship with email over the years.

While I'm always trying to optimize my email setup and finding new ways to spend as little time managing email as possible (for instance, I let SaneBox categorize emails on my behalf), my underlying problem lies in the scarcity of desktop-class email clients for iOS with specific features I'm looking for. As I shared in an episode of AppStories, these include: modern email options such as snoozing, read receipts, or "send later"; the ability to customize the app's sidebar with mailboxes and saved searches; and app integrations to save messages into other iOS apps either as links or PDFs.

I've tried dozens of different email apps for the iPhone and iPad over the years. Some of them stuck for several months on my Home screen, like Airmail; some turned out to be ill-fated experiments; others were stuck in the old mindset of offering a "light" companion version on iOS and a "real" counterpart for the Mac.

Spark, developed by Readdle, has been at the forefront of innovation in email clients since its iPhone debut three years ago. In my original review, I noted how, despite several limitations (such as the lack of iPad and Mac versions) and an unclear business model, Spark was a new kind of email experience that felt refreshingly powerful, especially when compared to Apple's stale Mail app. Spark gained a host of welcome enhancements in the past couple of years: in addition to being fully multi-platform on Apple devices, Spark is now capable of snoozing messages and sending them later; on the Mac, besides smarter search, Spark can even save messages into apps like Bear and Things.

I've gone back to Spark as my primary email app a handful of times over the past three years. Ultimately, I always stopped using Spark because it lacked feature parity with the Mac version (app integrations were never ported to iOS); most recently, I started using Apple Mail again because its drag and drop support in iOS 11 allowed me to "manually" integrate it with Things, Notes, and other apps.

This context is necessary to understand Spark 2, which is launching today on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and which Readdle touts as the biggest update to Spark since the original app from May 2015. Spark 2 is a peculiar upgrade: on one hand, it won't look that different to individual users, save for a couple noteworthy exceptions; on the other, it's a major reinvention of Spark for teams, which explains why Readdle is hedging the app's future on collaboration and a subscription-based business model (albeit with a generous free tier). The developers at Readdle are betting heavily on a vision that sees Spark as the centerpiece of email communication for teams – a platform in its own right, with all the upsides and potential issues that it entails.

For that reason, this can't be a full, in-depth review of Spark 2. As a team, we've only had access to Spark 2 for the past three weeks, and we haven't had a chance yet to test the app during one of the busiest periods of the year such as WWDC. I'm going to need more time for a full verdict and to understand how the MacStories team can be set up as a Spark organization. However, I believe that Spark 2 is the closest I've ever been to finding my ideal email client, and I want to explain why.

Read more



Microsoft Outlook for Mac Undergoing Major Redesign

Tom Warren of The Verge reports on Outlook for Mac details shared at the Microsoft Ignite conference last month:

A lot of the changes look very similar to the Outlook for iOS app, with a single-line ribbon and a smaller set of default commands. Reducing complexity is one of the key aims of the redesign, to make it easier for new and existing Outlook users to navigate the email app.

A new customizable ribbon will let Outlook for Mac and Windows users control which buttons are available, so you can tailor the email interface to your own common tasks. The left navigation panel will include quicker access to folders across multiple accounts, and looks like the switcher in Outlook for iOS.

Outlook for iOS has long been among the top email clients on the mobile platform. It pairs a clean, beautiful interface reminiscent of iOS’ Mail.app with the power user features Apple appears content to ignore. Moving Outlook for Mac away from its traditional desktop roots and further into the modern era looks to be a clear win.

The full Ignite session detailing future Outlook changes is available on YouTube.

Permalink

Spark Adds Key Email Productivity Features: Send Later and Follow-Up Reminders

In updates to Readdle’s Spark app for iOS and macOS released today, the email client gained two key power user features: send later and follow-up reminders.

Send later works exactly as you would expect. When composing an email, hitting the send later button in the compose bar will present several default options for when you’d like the message sent: Later Today, This Evening, and Tomorrow. Perhaps the most common use case will be responding to emails late at night and wanting them to send as soon as the next work day kicks off, which the Tomorrow option is perfect for. Thankfully, you can also set a custom date and time. Once you schedule the delivery time, Spark will take care of the rest.

With follow-up reminders, there are five default options joining the custom date picker: Later Today, This Evening, Tomorrow, Weekend, and Next Week. This feature serves to stifle a key pain point I’ve regularly encountered in email management: reminding me to follow up on an email when I don’t receive a response.

In the past I’ve tackled this problem by pairing my email client with a task manager, such that after sending an important, time-sensitive message, I would assign myself a task to follow up with a second email on a certain date in the future. The problem with this approach is that it requires two apps, and that my task manager has no way of communicating with my email inbox – it doesn’t know if I received a response to the message or not, meaning I may end up with an unnecessary task on my list. Integrating this function within an email client is exactly the right move, and Spark does it well. When your set follow-up point arrives, if you haven’t received a response yet, the sent message reappears at the top of your inbox with an icon denoting it’s a reminder. It’s easy from there to open the original email and send a quick follow-up.

The team at Readdle continues adding functionality into Spark that sets it apart as a true productivity-focused email client. With third-party integrations, snoozing, deep customization options, and now the ability to send later and receive follow-up cues, Spark is growing into an email powerhouse that every power user should give a serious look.



Spark for macOS Adds Improved Email Search

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.


Outlook for iOS Gains Quick Replies, New Conversation View, and More

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.