If you own an iPhone, chances are that you spend a lot of time reading emails on it. And there are some pretty great email apps available for the device, like Sparrow. But most of the good ones do cost a pretty penny. So I was curious to check out Molto, a free mail client that promised a “social network-like” experience for emails on my iPhone. Is that just marketing or is there some truth to it?
Setting Up Molto
Molto offers the full range of email service providers supported on most email apps, including Gmail, iCloud, AOL, Yahoo, Outlook/Hotmail and any POP3 or IMAP accounts. Just key in your details and you’re good to go.
The app also asks to connect with your Facebook account. Why? It will try to link the email accounts of the Facebook users with your email contact book to give profile pictures to your contacts. It’s a small but nice addition, especially if you use a non-Google email.
Changing How Email Should Look
When Molto said it wants to bring a social network-like experience, I expected it to be more about sharing and contacts, but I was surprised to actually find a new type of email interface. By now, we have all got so used to the way our inbox is displayed that it doesn’t seem like there could be anything new to offer, but Molto borrows one cool aspect from Twitter and Facebook here: inline images.
If a message contains a photo or a video attached or linked in it, Molto smartly displays it as an inline image in your inbox preview. It actually looks like a social network’s interface and I’m surprised that no other app offers this. After testing Molto for a while, when I went back to Gmail, I was so disappointed that new emails didn’t come with inline images and made me click to see the attachment. By showing inline images, I often did not read the full email in Molto and the preview was enough for me to delete or label and archive the message–it drastically reduced the amount of time I spend in my inbox.
Each message in Molto is also made to look like a social status update, with a prominent profile picture of the sender and a brief preview of the message.
If you don’t want the inline previews and want to save screen space, just pinch to toggle a condensed view.
Molto has threaded messages or conversation view, clubbing email threads with the same subject line together. Tap on it and you will read the whole thread so far. Each email is a standalone ‘card’, much like a conversation in Twitter.
It’s All About Speed
A lot of Molto’s interface seems to be focussed around letting you do things faster, like the inline previews. And it actually works. Here are a few examples:
- Auto-sorting “Personal”, “Social” and “Services” emails. Social is all about your Facebook, Twitter and other updates; Services is about newsletters and others mass-mailers; and everything else falls into Personal. It’s simple and neat.
- Swipe any message to the right to archive or delete it.
- Tap the profile pic of the sender for quick actions like reply, star, mark as read and archive.
- Share links and images on Facebook in a snap, with a built-in status compose window.
- A ‘Quick Reply’ at the bottom of an email message to send messages faster.
- Find your favourite contacts in a jiffy, with Molto’s built-in algorithm calculating the people you talk with the most and presenting them as shortcuts in the menu bar. Tap them and you will find your most recent conversations with that person.
- Select multiple emails by swiping left once and then tapping the selections, denoted by a check mark.
Great, But Not Perfect
While Molto gets so many things right, it still isn’t without flaws. The biggest miss is something that most email clients on iOS suffer from, given Apple’s policies: a lack of push notifications. It’s a pity because with that sorted, Molto could just become your main client.
And given its penchant for social networks, it would have been nice to support a few more, like Twitter. I’m not on Facebook much and being able to share a link quickly on Twitter would be cool.
Search is also not Molto’s strong suite. It doesn’t have auto-complete nor real-time result updates as you type. Once you do search, the results appear chronologically. While accurate, they aren’t as fast as what you get on the Gmail app.
Finally, I would have appreciated a faster way to label messages. Currently, Molto requires you to open an email to get the option to label it. A quick-action gesture would be much better for this. In fact, swiping left to label a message would be great; and multi-select could be handled by the age-old gesture of long-pressing an email to select.
Should You Get Molto?
But these are small problems in what is otherwise a fantastic email client. Honestly, apart from the push notifications, none of the other flaws is a dealbreaker.
If you are looking for a robust multi-account email client, I would suggest giving Molto a try, especially since it’s free. It’s got enough great stuff going for it to make you consider living with the lack of push notifications.