I don’t know about you, but I still find checking, writing, and managing email a tedious task despite the speed and convenience of sending and receiving messages, or even using smart mailboxes and mail plug-ins. Luckily there are developers out there who are coming up with some novel approaches for handling email, while traditional mail clients like Apple’s Mail, Outlook and Gmail have only added few new features here and there, with a fresh UIs.
Two recently released iOS mail clients, Mailbox (free, reviewed here), and now Mail Pilot ($14.99) make great use of the iPhone and iPad’s gesture navigation features to help you turn your inbox into a to-do manager for the email you receive. Mail Pilot is not just about checking and reading email, it’s about performing actions with those messages so you can get things done.
Mail Pilot’s Basic Setup
Mail Pilot does include the basic features (inbox, sent messages, compose) you will find in all mail clients, but unlike Mailbox it’s not limited to handling only Gmail. Mail Pilot is also compatible with iCloud, Yahoo Mail, and other custom IMAP and SMTP servers.
Adding accounts is as easy as inputting your username and password, and if you add multiple accounts Mail Pilot puts all your messages into a single inbox. It also syncs and updates messages, folders, and Gmail labels with your computer and web-based counterpart mail clients.
Both Mail Pilot and Mailbox use iOS gestures and tapping features to navigate messages. Mail Pilot calls it scrubbing, where you slide your finger to the left or right on an email to select how you want handle that message.
With Mail Pilot you get several choices for handling emails beyond the traditional reply and forwarding of messages. Though the bulk of the messages we receive consists of newsletters and advertisements, family and job-related messages typically require some type of action. In traditional mail clients, you have to save messages to folders for later review. In Mail Pilot you can scrub your finger to the right on a message and choose to Set Aside or set it to appear back in your inbox for review in one to five days. This feature is useful for when you need to respond to or review messages when you have more time, but you don’t want to leave your inbox cluttered with messages you’ve already opened.
Scrubbing your finger to the left on a message provides additional options for assigning the message for review on a specific date in the future, adding it to a custom folder or list, or simply archiving and deleting it. You can also access the same features by tapping on the little red triangle at the bottom-right of a message and tap on the calendar icon to assign a specific date to review a message. Mail Pilot will push messages to the top of your inbox list on the date you assign to them.
Mail Pilot also allows you to move selected messages to your existing mail client folders and labels, and you can also create lists (which are like folders) in Mail Pilot for saving related messages from multiple mail accounts.
You might create lists for collecting messages related to future purchases you’re considering, for compiling email for an upcoming meeting, or simply saving messages you want to review later at some unspecified day and time.
On the left menu bar of Mail Pilot, tap on the Set Aside and Dates and Lists buttons to manually view lists and saved messages. Under Dates and Lists you also get the dates you have assigned to messages, in case you want to review them before they arrive back in your inbox.
Messages marked for review can be found in your webmail or computer web client in the folders matching the naming convention in Mail Pilot.
Messages in Mail Pilot can also be acted upon in bulk, which I find is the best and quickest way to get my inbox to zero. To deal with messages in bulk, you first need to scrub a message to the left where all your recent messages will be listed.
It is possible to tap and select individual messages and then choose a particular action listed in the menu bar at the top, such as choosing to delete or archive all selected messages. In Mail Pilot, archived messages are called “Completed” messages. You can tap on the Completed icon in the left menu bar to review those messages. Bulk message handling is not quite as fast in Mail Pilot as it is in Mailbox, where you can archive messages in bulk without first tapping on them individually.
For the most part I’m quite pleased with Mail Pilot, especially when assigning dates to messages. But in the case of replying to messages, the app doesn’t include the original message in the reply. The developer got back to me and said that bug will be fixed in the next update. Some users may also find the reply box too small for replying to a message, but personally I find it okay, especially for replying to messages on my mobile devices where I tend to write shorter replies.
The price tag for Mail Pilot is also a little steep at $14.99, but if your inbox stays as full as mine, and you’re searching for a better way to manage and review messages, this is one iOS mail client that may be worth the price. The developers clearly have invested a lot of time and thought into creating a clean, well-designed interface with advance features not found in Apple’s own Mail client.
Download: Mail Pilot at the App Store ($14.99)
Let us know what you think of Mail Pilot. If you already use it, are the features you would like to see added? Leave a comment below.