MailWise: Trying to make your inbox more pleasant [Review]

For an industry that changes so quickly, it’s surprising to see the slow pace of innovation in email. If you think about it, we use email exactly the same way we did 15 years ago, something that cannot be said about other areas. Mailbox and Inbox tried to change things up a little, migrating the old paradigm of reading through an endless list of emails, to treating each conversation as a task, coupled with reminders, statuses, and at-a-glance information. Also, with Gmail coming pre-installed on many Android devices, Outlook and Yahoo offering solid experiences, and third-party options like CloudMagic and myMail rocking the scene, there’s a lot of clients to choose from. MailWise tries to stand out by offering compelling features that will make your life easier.

Developer: Mail Wise

Price: Free, Pro in-app purchase for $9.99.

Highlights:

  • Setup could be simpler.
  • Support for Gmail, Exchange, Outlook, Yahoo and others.
  • Interface is Holo with some Material Design elements.
  • Groups updates into one thread.
  • Conversation view for a succession of replied emails.

Setup

MailWise Setup
MailWise setup consists of several steps.

With most third-party email clients, you expect a lengthy setup in which you input your credentials, your name, configure inbound and outbound servers, and similar. However, MailWise makes the process a little less tedious by populating your current Google account automatically, so you don’t have to type your account and password. If you want to sync your non-Google accounts, you can choose between Exchange, Hotmail/Outlook, Yahoo and your own custom server.

The next screen prompts you to choose the sync frequency, from one minute (or push, in case it’s supported) to one hour. Other options in this screen include setting the email account as default, turning notifications on or off, disable syncing and automatic retrieval of attachments on WiFi. I believe this step could be done later by the user in order to make setup more straightforward.

Finally, when you reach the end of the setup, you can name your account and decide how your name is going to be displayed in outbound messages. I thought that I would finally see my long list of unread emails and newsletters, but instead I was shown a tutorial about the features that make this client different from other offerings.

Features

MailWise Main Screen
MailWise’s inbox view.

When you are finally shown the main screen, the first you’ll notice is the interface. It tries to incorporate Material elements to an otherwise Holo design, so it ends up as a mishmash of design languages. Google is pushing really hard on Material Design in order to maintain a more polished ecosystem, so all apps should have embraced it by now.

Otherwise, the interface looks exactly as you would expect from an email client, with a list of all your emails populating the main screen. There’s a FAB at the bottom right (used to compose a new email), search and overflow buttons at the top right, and a navigation drawer button at the top left. From this drawer you can change your current account, add new ones, access the unified inbox with all of your emails, and upgrade to the pro version. It also groups all of your important labels at the top (such as Unread, Drafts and Sent) and then your custom labels at the bottom.

The messages themselves can be swiped to the left or right. Swiping to the right shows options for deleting, moving to another label, marking the message as unread and favorite, while the same gesture to the left lets you delete the message. Meanwhile, when receiving an email, you get a notification with the subject, a small description and quick action buttons to reply or delete. This is expected behavior in any email app nowadays, so I’m glad it’s all present here.

The compose screen looks exactly the same as Gmail did in the pre-Lollipop era. You can choose the account from which to send the email, in case you have more than one configured. The app puts a “Sent my MailWise” signature which you can easily delete. However, it will appear in every message you create, and the only way to change the behavior is to purchase the Pro version.

One of the most advertised features of the app is the conversation view. Instead of showing a new email for each reply in the conversation, the app shows a chat-like interface to keep things less cluttered. Also, MailWise offers a cleaner approach to auto-generated email updates by grouping similar elements into one. For example, it grouped all of my Outlook birthday notifications into one thread, making it less annoying to have my inbox reminding me of birthdays instead of remembering them myself. It’s a really useful feature that works just as expected.

MailWise Grouped Updates
MailWise grouped updates in action.

Performance wise, the app shows no slowdowns or hiccups on my Nexus 6. Your mileage may vary, but the app seems fast enough to perform most of its activities. Even the remote search feature, in which you search your email directly on the server, seems swift enough to be useful.

MailWise Settings
MailWise offer several settings to make it yours.

Finally, the app offers a lot of options to change things to your liking. General settings include turning on or off the sender avatar, set “Reply All” as the default reply action, confirmation for various actions, and swipe actions. Settings for email accounts let you change things like your account, color, name, sync frequency, quick responses and notification settings. There’s a little blue icon beside the setting’s to indicate that it requires a Pro version in order to be modified. Overall, they are options that you would expect from an email client these days. No more, no less.

Conclusion

Offering a solid email experience, with several additional features that will definitely make your life easier, MailWise is a decent contender in the field. My biggest gripe with the app is it’s interface, which still retain many Holo elements, even though Material Design has been around for a lot of time now. Its one-time, $9.99 Pro unlock gets you the ability of customizing notifications for every contact (easily worth the price by itself), mark senders as VIP, automatic BCC, changing your signature, and more. Try the free version, and if you can overlook its design, then definitely go for it.

Download from the Play Store.

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