For some, the stock Gmail/Email apps included on their Android phone just don’t work well. Both are serviceable, but there are times we want a new look, or added functionality. Are there any email apps that are actually better than the included Android apps? We take a few for a spin to find out, focussing on those that can handle multiple mailboxes.
This email app is one of the more serviceable we found. It has a clean interface, and the various inboxes are color coded, so you know which service it came through. On opening an email, attached files look like Drive files on mobile, just big square thumbnails. That compliments the slide-out menu we find with other modern Android apps, making Cloud Magic one of the cleanest looking email apps we’ve found.
The app did a good job of handling multiple email boxes, and the color assignment to each account was handy. It did a good job of syncing, and kept up admirably to changes and communication via email from multiple devices. If you’re picky about design, their bright blue notification bar icon might be polarizing, depending on where you end up in the Android UI design argument. Overall, we liked Cloud Magic — clean, simple, and really easy to set up and use.
Where Cloud Magic feels a bit industrial in design, Blue Mail feels a bit more comical. Rather that color code your inboxes, Blue Mail uses icons — like Gmail. You’ll either see the logo of the sending party (LinkedIn emails, for instance, have the square “in” logo) inside a colored circle, or the picture a person has assigned their inbox.
It’s got the slide-out menu as well, but there’s one really neat trick Blue Mail has if you like to procrastinate. Sliding an email to the left side of the home screen brings up the option to delete, while sliding the email to the right brings up two options for “later”. One puts it off a set amount of time (which can be changed in settings), while the other has pre-determined options for putting it off until the evening, next, day, next week, or whenever you want. Once you schedule an email for a later time, it will pop back up and remind you. It’s a great trick for those times you’re busy and just need a reminder later on.
You can view those delayed emails on the bottom menu that pops up, which we’re not crazy about. We’d prefer they’d have put everything into the slide-out menu or settings menu. The pop-up bottom bar makes the app feel a bit cluttered, really. We like Blue Mail, but if you have a busy inbox, the tight interface may drive you nuts.
MailWise might just be the illegitimate child of the above mail apps. It’s got a less business-like interface like Blue Mail, but color codes inboxes like Cloud Magic. It’s a really straightforward email app otherwise, but has a few issues we aren’t crazy about.
The interface feels dated, and the bottom menu bar reminds us of long-forgotten Android styling cues. There isn’t much to it, really, and we feel like the beta tag really means “forgotten about by Developer”. It’s a serviceable app, and does its job, but there’s not much that is special about this one. Another strike against it is a lack of tablet utility — we couldn’t load it onto a Nexus 7.
Molto takes a different approach to email. Instead of giving you a list of messages, Molto brings them to you in card format. You’ll see a card with a snippet of the email, and the same kind of round icons we found from Blue Mail. Swiping to the left or right deletes an email, and it’s current with Android styling.
Strangely, it forces you into landscape mode when used on a tablet. That’s likely because on a tablet, Molto provides a different experience altogether. You can scroll the message inside of the card, which is a nice trick for accessing info quickly. We’re not crazy about landscape typing, though. We should mention we’re using this on a Nexus 7, and it feels like Molto for the tablet was designed with larger 10-inch screens in mind. If you have one of those, you likely won’t mind the landscape compromise.
On the smaller smartphone screen, Molto was less exciting. The card format didn't work well for a busy inbox, as messages were easily missed. The app also does a terrible job of syncing with the server, routinely showing dozens (sometimes hundreds) more messages than we had. As an alternative to Gmail, wherein you'll use Molto exclusively, we could recommend it. For the use-case scenario we're after, it just falls short. We like the layout for bigger screens, but the rest falls flat.
Do any of these apps do anything groundbreaking? Not necessarily, but some are just different enough to make you want to give them a shot. We like Blue Mail for it’s easy way to put emails off for another time. Check an email out, then slide it out of the way while you mull it over. It will prompt you to respond when you decide it’s appropriate to. Pretty neat.
Molto has a slick new interface, but the tablet version is hit and miss. We like the in-card navigation, but landscape is not a favorite for smaller devices. It also had issues with sync, and didn’t seem to accept that we were using email on the desktop, or other devices without Molto. If you like the interface and can use it as your sole email, it might suit you well. For us — and we’d wager most of you — that just doesn’t work.
If you want to get away from the stock Gmail or Email on your Android device, Cloud Magic was the best all-around performer. It synced beautifully, and the no-nonsense UI was nice for our busier email inboxes. Setup was easy, too. Cloud Magic performs where it needs to, and that’s all that matters.
We aren’t saying stock Gmail and/or Email are lacking, but some don’t find them easy to look at, or useful. We’ve given some alternatives, but if you have a suggestion, please let us know in the comments section below. We welcome suggestions on which email you use, and what you like about it!