App Swap – Spark for E-mail

E-mail sucks. It just does.

We spend about 30 hours a week on e-mail at work. Our inboxes are constantly filling up, and it’s impossible to get any productive work done while keeping up with the steady stream of requests, notifications, and sales alerts.

Ohhhhh, those sales alerts.

One major problem with e-mail is the lack of useful apps to help manage them. I stopped using the native Mail app on the iPhone years ago, and recently found myself frustrated with the Gmail app for iOS.

I wanted canned responses, all my accounts in a single window (and to quickly go to an account), and to customize my swipe actions.

And I want the same app on my phone, computer, and Apple Watch.

Enter the Spark e-mail app. The very fine folks at Readdle built the best e-mail app I’ve ever used. I’ve been using Spark on all my devices for a few months now, and here’s what I love about it.

CUSTOMIZATION

You can customize everything – signatures, swipe actions, your sidebar, the types of e-mails you want to be notified about…the works. Customizing my swipe actions (unread, archive, delete, flag) has kept my inbox limited to ‘must respond’ e-mails. Which brings us to…

QUICK REPLIES

I’m still waiting for the day that Canned Responses is a native feature in all e-mail clients.

But while I wait, I’ll use quick replies inside Spark’s app. They do the trick for the frequent “thank you!”, “not interested”, and “can we connect this or next week?” Since there’s no way to customize these responses after you hit the button, you have to be careful about using them. That said, custom swipe actions and quick replies help me keep my inbox under control when I’m in the subway, in an elevator, or zoning out to the television.

Bonus – quick replies are also available on the Apple Watch app.

A SMARTER INBOX

The “smart” in Spark really is smart. The search functionality is better than Gmail (app or browser) or Exchange. You can set notifications to only be alerted to important e-mails. And the unified ‘Smart Inbox’ layout lets me see all my e-mails, as it came in. The app is as fast as the native Mail app and faster than Gmail, and rarely crashes. Smart, indeed.

INTEGRATED

Spark can import any e-mail provider (Gmail, Exchange, and even Yahoo) and integrates 3rd party apps (Google Apps, Dropbox, Instapaper, Evernote). App integration was one of the issues I had about switching over from the Gmail app, but Spark handles it beautifully. No muss, no fuss.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

No e-mail client is perfect. I don’t like how accepting a meeting invite inside Spark creates a duplicate entry in my Calendar app, or that you can’t dial a phone number from the calendar inside of Spark (or in the Google Calendar app, for that matter). A full canned response tool would be great. And this is just a personal preference, but I wish the app had a lighter design. Maybe a future customization?

On the whole, switching over to Spark has made my e-mail life so much easier. If you’re looking for a true tool that will make your life better, check it out.

Spark is for iOS only right now – apologies if you’re an Android user!

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What do you use for e-mail on your phone (and for that matter, what phone do you have?) Comment below and let me know!

P.S – how I achieve the elusive Inbox Zero, and the need for a digital detox.

  • Mackenzie Collins

    I just started using spark and I absolutely LOVE it! I love the smart inbox and the quick replies! Keep spreading the word about this amazing app!!

    • hithaonthego

      Yes! It’s so good.

  • Meems

    This is slightly off topic but kind of related. Have you heard of Viber? I am involved in a social group and a member insisted we use because he does not like emails or text messages. I am the group coordinator and tried to research Viber but can’t find much information on it. (It makes you grant access to your full contact list) The only thing I figured out how to do is send messages to the group which are retrieved when the user opens the Viber app. (iPhone 6s) Oh Spark, save the day…

    • hithaonthego

      I haven’t heard of Viber! I use Slack for similar situations (for B2A communications, and some other work groups). I really love it for rapid messaging instead of e-mail or texts, and I don’t think you need to grant access to all your contacts to use it. Check it out!

  • JTGA84

    I sure wish it supported users who are still on Yosemite… :( guess I’ll have to wait until o decide to upgrade all devices. In the meantime , canary is getting the job done….

    • hithaonthego

      It’s worth the OS upgrade. I would know – I had to update all of my devices to install it, but it’s been such a game changer that I don’t regret it one bit.

  • Tammy

    Is there anything you DON’T do? Love your life hacks and everything in between! Wish I could use it for my work Exchange but we’re restricted to Apple Mail for now. I’m currently using Google Inbox for now which suffices but I’m still not 100% happy. The search is nowhere close to Spark. I’ll have to check it out – Thanks Hitha!

    • hithaonthego

      I could use more sleep! And to eat more vegetables :)
      Here’s hoping Spark can support Exchange soon!

  • JTGA84

    I finally downloaded Sierra :) So far all is well… Redownloaded Spark on all my devices and its good to have it back instead of having 3 separate email apps on iPad, iMac, and iPhone. Thanks for the recommendation hithaonthego!

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