Email applications seem to be the current trend on mobile devices at this point in time. There are so many credible alternatives to Mail.app, it can be tempting to just leave them altogether and go for the native application on your iOS device! Too much choice can be a killer sometimes!
I decided a short while ago, however, to try an application that seems to be rising in stock with every single release. Spark, by Readdle is my current email application of choice on iOS and I'll give you some reasons why.
Firstly, you've got the developers - Readdle. I've been using their software for a long time and the care and attention that goes into them is first rate. I use the following apps currently, most of them daily:
- Calendars 5 (iOS)
- Printer Pro (iOS)
- PDF Expert (OS X))
- PDF Expert 5 (iOS)
- PDF Converter (iOS)
They are all first class and I didn't need much convincing to try out their email application when it hit the App Store.
So what does Spark provide that makes it a key part of my daily workflow? Well, the following features aren't necessarily unique to Spark - some of them can be found in other applications, however when you put them all together, it makes for a great package.
There is a wide range of services that you can connect directly to Spark.
Currently, I have Spark connected to Pocket which is handy for emails I want to push to my read-it-later queue, Dropbox for easy export and OneDrive which facilitates how I work with a particular client of mine.
Save As PDF
When you have an email open, clicking on the Share Extension icon in the bottom right hand corner brings the screen up below. Click Save as PDF to open up a dialog box that allows you to save to any of the services you configured above.
Configurable Swipes and Widgets
Yes, swipes are configurable in most applications, however there seems to be a wider variety of potential options in Spark. I think it's the presence of the Connected Accounts and the manner in which you can configure a swipe gesture to save directly to Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive etc that makes me smile a little when I dive in a little deeper. It's a nice touch. Also, the widgets (bottom right hand corner iPhone/left hand pane iPad) that Spark presents can be customised too. Having a widget that takes me directly to my attachments, as an example, is handy indeed. As different cards (plug-ins to other applications) are released, these will be available in the Widgets section. I can't wait until the Amazon one is released. This means that I'll be able to touch a button and be presented with all emails related to Amazon deliveries (as an example).
Snoozing email can be a crucial part of an efficient workflow and Spark allows you to edit the default snooze parameters. I don't snooze email often as I can feel as though I'm touching an email twice - something we are told repeatedly not to do. Sometimes, however, I glance over an email and think "I just can't deal with this now" which is where snoozing for a period of time whereby I'll read it when I know I can deal with it, can be useful indeed.
Sync Settings via iCloud
When I downloaded the iPad version, I was able to synchronise all of the settings from my iPhone version in less than 30 seconds. Now THAT was a time-saver. Literally.
Admittedly, there isn't much control over what can be synchronised (Airmail has a lot more granularity within it's sync settings) however I'm happy with the feature.
I'm a dreaded mixture of both polite and lazy. I don't like having to reply to a lot of emails yet feel incredibly rude if I don't (that's the classic Brit coming out from within). Quick Replies help mitigate against these feelings and allow me to reply at the touch of a button without spending a whole heap of time on it. These are customisable as well, so if sending an emoji as a quick reply seems too impersonal at times, I can create some pre-defined text and send that instead.
In short, everything seems to just flow easily with Spark. It works in exactly the way I need an email client to work. I can send email to a third party service easy enough, export to PDF and triage quickly and efficiently. All share extensions are catered for, meaning I can send an email to OmniFocus 2 quickly as well as any other action I deem appropriate.
When you consider the fact it's free, that's where the worry comes in. I'd be more than happy to pay for this product in order to ensure it survives - I would imagine that a lot of the cards that are due to be released soon will come with some form of IAP model - which I'm happy to support. Also, with a Mac client in the pipeline, I would hope this product will sustain itself in the coming years.
It's in my workflow now and I don't eally want to have to change.