In my earlier article “Lost in a jungle of email apps” I wrote about a few email apps for iOS and MacOS. I the landed in recommending an app called Spark. However, since then much has happened and new information has emerged. Spark has in my opinion lagged behind especially in the Mac-version and is now not nearly as good as many alternatives. And by now I have changed my view on Airmail, and that makes me feel I need to update my views on apps for iOS and iPadOS.
When it comes to Airmail, I paid full price in the old version, and left Airmail when it went subscription. However I understand that it was a way to get economy in the development and survival of the app. I have no problem with subscriptions. Ulysses is subscription, Fantastical aswell. Evernote. And a lot of email apps. The list goes on. But nevertheless-after testing so many email apps (see below) my main choise together with Apples own mail.app still is Airmail. Good integration with many apps, even with Apple Notes.
But for those who want an alternative to Airmail (or Apple Mail), here comes some alternatives:
Canary Mail. Really good and also focuses on privacy. Also has good integration with other apps. Only available on Mac,iOS and iPadOS. It has received some bad reviews regarding their support, but the app itself is mostly rated very high. Rather expensive though. You get an Airmail subscription for 4 years for the same price as a purchase of Canary Mail if you choos both Mac and iOS: But if you don’t like subscriptions, want a privacy oriented app and want good integration with other apps, you should try Canary mail.
Spark-as mentioned. Commenters state that the privacy in Spark is no different to Airmail, Canary and others. Well: One thing that I see is different privacy-wise towards Airmail and other third part apps is that you can’t turn off push and choose fetch instead. Spark wrote in 2015 that they would implement fetch, but even now (2020) they don’t seem to provide that option. If you use fetch instead of push then nothing gets saved on their (Airmail, Canary etc) servers. Spark does not have their own servers, but they use Google Cloud service. If you have concerns with Google privacy, then this might be a problem, since you can’t choose fetch. All your email pass their (Google) servers, wether you like it or not. Also, Spark shares your credentials with Facebook and Amplitude ( a service to among other things analyse customer behaviour). I for one can’t really understand in what way I benefit from someone analysing my emailing-behaviour. But then free apps need to be financed. But-if you have no problem with privacy issues then Spark is OK. As for integration: Spark integrates well with other apps and services in the iOS version, the Mac-version is however not even close to the integrations in Airmail and Canary mail. And if you have chosen to drop all third party notes apps since the disaster that is called Evernote 10 and gone all in on Apple Notes, then Spark for mac is useless.
AltaMail:Extremey cluttered and not the nicest UI. See it as “Mailmate for iOS”. If you want the most settings and really good privacy, if you don’t mind putting the time and effort in to understanding how to do the settings right, and can live with a UI that is not too inviting, then this might be a choice for you. However, just as with Spark, the integration with Apple Notes is sub par. Yes, you CAN add a mail to Notes, but it saves as a .eml-file that doesn’t open when you click on it. So as with Spark for mac, if you are relying on the standard Apple Notes app, thgen AltaMail isn’t for you. Their support is really good, and they answer you very fast. AltaMail now also has a MacOS-version.
AppStore is full of alternatives, with their own takes on emailing. Spike (free/subscription), Newton (subscription), Edison (free)… just to mention a few. Edison states “No ads, just mail”. However they also explain how they use your data.
Myself I have tried Spark, Edison, Outlook, Preside, Newton, Canary, AltaMail, and on Mac also MailMate. But I tend to return to Airmail every time. To me it is safe enough, cheap enough (a purchase of Canary prices the same as a subscription for 4 years of Airmail) and it does what I want it to do. It is also translated to many different languages, which is good if English isn’t your main language.
However: I would list on a piece of paper what is essential to you in an email app. Do you really need all the bells and whistles, or are they just cool stuff that you’ve gotten used to?
I am however at the moment slowly returning to Apple mail. I have built a workflow that makes me not miss the snooze function in other apps, and safety wise it is unbeatable. Once you find out the strange solution Apple has for the share function (you actually choose “print” and then pinch to zoom on a page and it will bring up a share sheet. Hope this will help you in your search for your personal choice of app.