If you have been following along with the App Store you have probably seen email apps in the headlines a lot lately. It seems, with the App Store becoming five this year, developers are making strides in the seemingly impossible task of helping alleviate the pain of email, and I think we are on the forefront of new email applications. In more time, I think they will become very similar to task or notes applications where the choices seem endless. Just a few days ago at WWDC, Tim Cook said,
… over 93% of applications are downloaded at least once a month.
Which means there are plenty of users looking for plenty of choices when it comes to choosing applications.
One option for managing email is Dispatch, which integrates with other iOS apps nicely. Can Dispatch’s features separate itself enough in a growing market? Read on to find out.
Supported Email Clients
The first question when looking at a new email client is if it supports your email provider. Dispatch should work fine with all IMAP email providers, although the developers, Clean Shaven Apps, only claim that it should work fine with Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo! and AOL. Their support pages mention that all IMAP email providers should work, but the previously listed four providers have been tested in depth. Personally, I use iCloud, Gmail and Google Apps accounts. I was able to log into each one without a problem and was up and running in no time.
It Feels Familiar
Three separate views are available, which include Inbox, Unread and Starred. There are no folders, tags or any other organizational methods utilized, but the app still feels familiar. Relying on gestures to quickly empty your inbox, Dispatch takes away choice by only allowing the user to archive, delete or mark as spam. In this sense, Dispatch does not want to become your full email client. It does not discourage folder structures, nor does it embrace it. Dispatch only wants you to quickly clear out your inbox, which is something we all have struggled with at some point.
Swiping left on an email message brings an array of options into view including:
- mark as unread/read
- mark as spam
Dispatch also has support for long swipes, which is a more efficient way to clear out the inbox. The long swipe is a customizable action in the settings, and allows for the user to either archive, mark as spam or delete with one action.
Quickly Respond Using Snippets
Clearing out your inbox is only part of the struggle — some messages might actually require responses. Most, if not all, of these messages might even require standard responses in which templates or snippets could be set up. The Dispatch creators wanted the same thing, so they created it. Swiping to the right in the inbox view reveals an account listing with a snippets option. Dispatch ships with standard snippets that the user can customize.
When replying to emails, Dispatch will automatically say hi in order to save time.
If you are already a user of TextExpander, you can import your snippets into Dispatch and utilize those. The only downside with is that the app does not support the fill-in, date or time functions available in TextExpander. This is a disappointment as I could foresee having snippets set up such as :
I will have an update in 1 week.
(Where one week is the actual date from 1 week of writing the email).
Share Your Email
There are other types of messages where no response is required, but you might need to keep them around for reference. Of course, sending these messages to archive is always an option, but it might be more useful to send the messages to another location such as Evernote or OmniFocus. Both of these apps support emailing information into these services, but sometimes when forwarding messages the format is not preserved correctly.
Dispatch makes it easy to get content into other application by providing support for 14 iOS applications. Not all actions are available at once because Dispatch look at what content you are sending or have selected before the action menu is populated.
The first action that is useful is to send the whole content of the email to another app. Pressing the Action button reveals the ability to send to Due, Reminders, OmniFocus, Evernote and more. The number of apps that are shown depends on the number of apps installed from the supported app base and the user-defined preferences in the Settings. For example, if you know you will never send an email to the Reminders app, the option exists to turn it off in Dispatch so that it will not display in your menus.
Dispatch really shines for apps that support callback urls such as Evernote. When pressing the action button and sending a message to Evernote, you are brought into Evernote to enter any additional information into the note. Once you press close in Evernote, you are automatically brought back to Dispatch. The workflow is seamless, but unfortunately not all of the supported apps support callback urls. One disappointing omission for me is that I find myself sending a lot of emails to OmniFocus. Unfortunately, OmniFocus does not support callback urls so I am forced to double tap and select Dispatch from the multitasking tray to return to Dispatch.
While sending emails to other apps, Dispatch takes integration further by including sets of actions based on the selected item. For example, dates can easily be added to the calendar, addresses can be opened in Maps and contact information can be called or FaceTimed. It makes email more actionable and easier to process.
One of my favorite features is that links can be sent directly to Instapaper. It’s great for those emails recommending you to check out a link.
The biggest complaint with the app is going to be there is not support for push notifications. This would require your email to be sent through an external third-party’s server, and it seems the Dispatch crew is not interested in doing that. Lack of push notifications is not a deal breaker since I do not use them now, but I know some middle manager somewhere would freak out if they missed an email by a second.
Also, I had a problem with deleted iCloud emails showing back up in my Inbox view. If I handled these email on my iPad and deleted them, when coming back to Dispatch later these emails were still in my inbox forcing me to process them again. This did not happen every time, but it did occur on more than one occasion. Other than the previously mentioned problem I was happy to see the version 1.0 release was mostly bug free!
Dispatch is not the go-to for all of your email needs. It does not support all email accounts such as Exchange or POP mail, but its focus is much more narrow. With a narrow focus on processing your inbox while on the go and being able to share contents of these emails with other apps, Dispatch is a great utility to have at your disposal to quickly clear out your inbox.