Over the years I’ve tried many different email apps on my iPhones. Apple’s default Mail app (of course), Mailbox by Dropbox, Google’s Gmail and Inbox and, most recently (and often), Boxer. Between these apps there has never been a clear winner in my mind. Until I found… Microsoft Outlook. I know, I know, Outlooks is soooo old and out of date. Well, not really. Not anymore.
Outlook, now on iOS, has really cleaned up nicely since I last encountered it in it’s original PC form. It’s got a simple design, it’s speedy, the search works very well and it’s got some genuinely useful features. The Focused inbox view hasn’t failed me yet in sorting out email I care about and separating it from stuff I don’t (which gets put in the easily accessible Other folder). There’s a Quick Filter feature which lets me sort thing further by Unread, Flagged or Files. There’s a calendar view in-app so I don’t have to leave Outlook to check on appointments. There’s also quick access to attachments (sent and received) via the Files screen (something most, if not all, the other apps I listed above don’t seem to have).
The reason I liked Apple’s Mail app is that it “just worked” with my entire Apple ecosystem — but it lacked (lacks) many of the features found on other email apps. Outlook does a really good job of playing nice with my iPhone (and Apple Watch) too even though it’s not an Apple product. What I liked most about Mailbox by Dropbox was it’s ultra-minimal design. Outlook doesn’t look so minimal that it would be considered “designy” by any means, but it is minimal, straightforward and very simple — despite all the features it’s packing. What I liked about Gmail was… basically nothing, but Inbox offered some real innovation in terms of how conversations were presented. The thing is, Inbox was just too different. Within Outlook, though, I’m immediately comfortable (and productive).
Boxer was kind of my reigning champion of late because it had some innovative features: specifically “actions” that could be taken by swiping or hitting a specific button. I liked the Evernote integration and being able to mark items as spam easily. I liked the design in that I could see photos of people I was communicating with next to each message. I REALLY like the Boxer team — they even sent me a couple of cigars when my kid was born. But ultimately the search didn’t work as well as it should’ve for me and there just seemed to be a few too many glitches for my liking.
So, as boring as it might sound, I’ve switched to Outlook as my goto email app on iOS. And so far I haven’t regretted it for an instant. That’s because I truly feel like Outlook is the very best iOS/iPhone email app (and no this isn’t a paid placement).
What’s your iPhone email experience been like lately?