in Journal

What’s missing in iOS email apps

After having tried nearly all email apps under the sun and never feeling properly satisfied with the functionality, I have naturally become a bit frustrated by the lack of options. There must surely be an email app available which fulfills my need of making sure that nothing slips between the cracks while waiting for responses.

The baseline is the builtin email app within iOS, Mail, which works quite well and usually renders emails with impeccable style, yet still provides ample whitespace around the content, which makes the user interface seem less cluttered. Had it not been for a couple of unfortunate missing features, the default email app would have solved all my needs and wishes for what an email app should handle.

If I open an email, I want1 to see all related emails from the same thread. Mail only thread emails within the same folder, which means that I can’t even see my own sent emails when viewing a thread.

The same thing applies to flagging, where if I flag and archive an email, I can’t simply switch to the flagged view and think that my email will be there waiting. To find flagged email within the inbox, sent and the archive folders, I need to open the search bar and literally type the word “flagged”, select the special search option at the bottom, which then provides me with the view I want.

Other email clients such as Spark and Outlook fare a lot better with the flagging functionality and the display of adjacent messages within a thread, but are still lacking in the following area:

What I want is an email app that can actually track email responses properly. When composing an email message, I would like an option to track replies to this email by either flagging it, or preferably by linking it to my OmniFocus setup, or some internal app mechanism. Either way, I currently need to manually find the sent folder after an email has been sent, flag it or add it to OmniFocus so I can track that the person I send the email to actually responds. A workaround is to bcc emails to the OmniFocus mail drop, but then there will be no link back to the message, which is useful in case I need to read other messages in that thread or reply to something.

  1. In many case, I actually need this feature, since it’s hard to keep track of a lot of conversations without having the ability to see the history.