There’s been a ton of hubbub in the past year or so about achieving Inbox Zero, which is apparently some sort of Nirvana for the Millenials, as they’re called. Well, I’ve got news for you: it’s not going to happen. There’s no app that will make Inbox Zero work for you because, as a concept, Inbox Zero is idiotic — no intended offence, of course. The problem isn’t that people get too much email. The problem is that our email spends too much time trying to get our attention.
A ton of people, though, have understandably misunderstood this. Instead of trying to make meaningful differences in the way we check, read, and send email, most apps are trying to make differences in the way we categorize it. That’s wrong. The Delete button is my favourite, and if you think there’s any other way to truly get rid of everything in your inbox, you’re cheating.
So I’m excited to say this: myMail is the email app that actually solves the problem. Read on for more about what this app does so well.
All Your Accounts. One Inbox. Fewer Notifications.
That’s the simplest recipe to describe what myMail does for people. It groups just about any email you can think of (more on that later) into one app and one inbox, allowing you to peruse everything without ever having to open a different app. It’s not a unified inbox, but I can’t decide if I prefer that approach or not. It’s what I’d call a moot point, at least for me (you’ll likely know whether or not that bothers you).
The app combines this with a focus on fewer notifications to create a dual-pronged attack to reduce the amount of notifications — and thus, the amount of time you spend looking at your phone or iPad. It automatically sets a customizable snooze time, and if you’d like to turn off notifications for promotional emails (marketing) or social media email (because do you really need to know the second somebody likes the picture you took of your breakfast?), it’s easy to do that too. In that sense, the notification settings are granular. You can ignore them, but then you’d be missing out on the benefits of using them. And I think the benefit is huge.
I’ve spent a lot of time writing about Inbox Zero over the past year. For geeks, I think it’s something of a magical fantasy because it represents everything so many of us love about minimalism. For the rest of us, I think it promises some sort of Zen peace — that might be marketing, but it doesn’t matter because so many of us buy into it.
The thing is, email is always going to keep coming, whether we want it to or not. And just because email is ubiquitous doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad; our inability to manage it is the problem. While myMail’s notifications don’t automatically delete promotional content or social emails, they help by eliminating that distraction. The emails will still be there, but the phone or tablet won’t be nagging you to check them and do something about them — after all, that’s half the battle. There’s a reason they’re called “push” notifications.
Setting Up Accounts
myMail works straight out of the box with the most popular email providers available: Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook, and iCloud. The service also claims to work with nearly every IMAP/POP3 service, and while I obviously can’t fully test those claims, I can test them a little.
Setting up accounts is a piece of cake, but it’s almost too easy. For example, setting up Gmail was just like how it would be in any other Google app. All I had to do was log in. But I don’t use my Gmail account as much as I used to, having switched to Fastmail, so I logged into my Fastmail account first thing and tried to get things set up. You’ll notice that Fastmail is not on the list of supported accounts, but it’s a very popular IMAP service and I expected some form of support.
myMail does allow for some support, but it doesn’t have any settings to control the details. This lack of settings is what makes adding other accounts to the service so lovely, but it’s also what makes setting up anything else a pain. I need very specific IMAP access codes to make Fastmail work as flawlessly as it should. While Mail.app provides those, myMail (and many other third-party apps) do not. The end result is that my email arrives and I can check it, and myMail will sync what I delete within its app on various devices, but none of these actions are carried over to the Fastmail server. In other words, while an email may appear deleted on my phone or iPad (or both), it’s not actually deleted from my inbox.
So be warned: if you use a popular email service, your support is guaranteed and won’t be an issue. If you’re like me and use a different email — for your business or even just as an additional layer of security — then I wouldn’t expect the same support, yet. I really hope this is fixed soon, because the rest of the app is beautiful.
Focusing On Your Mail
The design is really great. We’ve seen some good email designs over the past year, but myMail is easily one of the most attractive. I love the way avatars are incorporated into the app — very similarly to the way they’re incorporated into Messages on the iPad — with a picture or logo should the app recognize the contact information and the first letter of the first name of the contact otherwise. It’s colourful and highly visual.
I also love the iconography. It’s not every day that I use an app that has so much craft and care put into each button. These are a joy to look at, and a joy to use.
Finally, the typography is everything it’s cracked up to me. When the email parses correctly (which it does about 90% of the time), this looks as good as the typography in Mail.app. In other words, the typography in myMail is almost pixel-perfect and laser-focused. I can’t complain.
Looking at the app makes everything visually obvious. I love the little red flag to mark Flagged mail. The avatars really appeal to my ADHD mind. The mini-menu that appears over email when you swipe looks amazing, but I have to admit that I wish the slide-out inboxes and accounts were on a plain white background instead of translucent against a cheesy picture.
The red and white colour choices are really pleasant. I do wish that there was a built-in night mode that automatically changed colours; I could see red and midnight black going really well together. But that’s me nitpicking. Overall, this is exactly the sort of app I think many of us were hoping Apple was going to ship with iOS 7. Swiping over a message for more information is great.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that myMail is completely native to iOS despite its Android counterpart. That means that it’s a very fast app, and although it compresses your email while you’re on cellular, you won’t notice the difference. It’s also got an image preview, and it screams on faster devices like the new iPads (or, presumably, the 5s).
I tell you that so you know that you’re not really sacrificing anything if you switch from Mail.app. Unlike most third-party email apps, I don’t feel like you’re missing out on any important features. And from a design perspective, it outclasses Mail.app — for the most part. That being said, I do wish it had better support for all IMAP and POP3 accounts. I’m a little disappointed I can’t use myMail all the time myself, as I think those that can are in for a treat.