We all receive a lot of emails — both for work and in our personal lives — and having a great app for managing all of those messages is an excellent idea. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps to choose from — from email providers, device manufacturers and third-parties alike.
The pre-installed email apps tend to be enough for most people — a basic feature-set with support for the major email platforms. To compete with the stock email applications, a third party offering has to excel in either design or functionality. Flipdog Solutions aims to compete on both fronts with MailDroid, a fully-featured email client for Android. Having used the app for a number of weeks as my primary email app, let’s see how well it performs…
Starting with the basics, it’s important to note that MailDroid has most of the features you’d expect from an email app in 2016 — the ability to use it with the major email providers, receive and respond to emails, archive and organize mail, and view multiple account streams in a unified inbox. The app has support for Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, Exchange, iCloud, FastMail and more as well as IMAP, WebDAV and POP3 so you can easily get set up with almost any account.
The experience of navigating the app is pleasant enough. The design feels a little basic and could do with a refresh, and there a lot of menus and settings to peruse, but using the app for it primary purpose — email — is straightforward. Visually, a couple of nice UI touches like the ability to change the theme color and the support for swipe gestures in your inbox (because who doesn’t enjoy swiping emails straight into the trash?) are highlights. Composing an email is also as expected with a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor for laying out your emails exactly how you want.
MailDroid does little to filter and organize your email on its own, instead it simply presents your mail in an easy to understand, chronological list. That’s not to say it is without organizational capabilities — quite the opposite. You can use MailDroid to set custom filters and rules based on contacts or subjects, create and manage email folders, opt for a conversation view for email threads, choose specific notification sounds for particular senders, and take charge of when the app syncs each account’s mailbox. You can also save mail for offline viewing, search across your mailboxes of both online and offline emails and link your cloud storage apps for attachments. MailDroid puts all of these granular controls in your hands in its in-app settings and essentially every feature and setting can be customized to your liking.
This customization is both a real selling point and a burden in MailDroid. It took me quite some time to get used to the app and to configure it in a way that fit into my workflow and suited my needs, but once I had done so it made managing my inboxes a breeze. It takes some initial investment and time, but this pays off — particularly for moderate to power users who this app is mined at.
Security is another key focus for MailDroid with support for password protection, PGP and S/MIME. Flipdog offers a free Crypto plugin (available here) for enhanced security and there’s an optional spam filter to keep out unwanted emails that is available in-app for $0.99 a month, or to try on a 21 day free trial. For business users, these security features will be a real boon.
After using MailDroid for a while, I have found it receives email as quickly as any other app, even with custom rules set, so there was no need to worry about delayed notifications. It uses slightly more battery life than my pre-installed email app, which is to be expected, but not much more. My main qualm with the app is the ads. Being a free app, it is ad-supported and these appear as banners across your inbox which not only crowd the UI but also can be tapped in confusion as they look similar in format to your mail messages. A number of permissions are also required for the ads. There is, of course, an ad-free Pro version of MailDroid available if ads are not your thing, and it also comes with some bonus added features including home screen widgets, the ability to reply directly from the notification drawer and support for navigating your inbox with your device’s hardware buttons.
If email is a major part of your life — and if you find yourself constantly managing your inbox(es) — MailDroid is worth checking out. Its plethora of power user features will be valuable to anyone who relies on email. The look and feel could do with a refresh and a bit more character, but the features are all there if you spend some time digging through the settings. MailDroid really puts the power of email management in your hands and is perfect for anyone who wants to take a firm control of their inboxes. MailDroid is also under active development and has been since 2009 with the developer constantly adding new features (better Android Wear support being something that is on the horizon). Longevity is worth considering when investing any amount of time in an email app.