I’ve always been a big fan of Readdle’s apps, and they’ve been a supporter of iOS since the beginning days. Spark is their latest project, and one that aims to once and for all make email enjoyable. Maintaining your email is a hassle. There’s no doubt about it. There are countless apps available on the App Store that claim to finally solve this seemingly unsolvable problem – A quick search for “email apps” in the App Store prompted 6,944 results. I’ve been on the hunt for a long time for a great email app. I’ve tried Mailbox, Accompli, Mail Pilot (which, unfortunately, began to stop working for my shortly after our review), and now Spark.
The main feature of Spark is the Smart Inbox. Similar to Google Inbox (but looks a lot nicer and works with more than just Gmail!), it categorizes emails from people, newsletters, and “notifications.” I believe they classify notifications as password reset emails, but I haven’t received any so I’m not entirely sure. That said, its classification was spot-on with people and newsletters!
Spark also ties in with services such as Pocket, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, et cetera. Other email apps have tried doing this (Boxer comes to mind), but I found Spark’s implementation to be seamless and swift. Widgets are also included for quick access throughout the app – Weather, calendar, quick access to a mailbox or attachments just to name a few. However, while beta testing the app many of these widgets were unavailable to me. Readdle says that they will be in-app purchases upon the app being on the App Store.
By far my favourite part of Spark is Smart Search. When I first read it, I figured it was another marketing buzzword to explain how fast search was. This was, however, not at all the case. Spark is the first email app I’ve seen to implement natural language search, and it works beautifully. Not only can I search simple terms like “emails from Leigh,” but more advanced terms like “emails sent in the last two weeks with PDFs attached.” It’s clear that a considerable amount of effort was put into making Smart Search work, and it truly pays off.
If I have to complain about something though, the only thing I can really think of is the design. While I’m sure it appeals to some people, I personally find the slight gradients, colour schemes, and use of a hamburger sidebar menu a little annoying. The minimal appearance of Mailbox or even Mail.app fit in much better with Apple’s iOS 7/8 design scheme.
Overall, Spark is definitely an email client worth checking out. A few other features I didn’t mention is the inclusion of an Apple Watch, a neat feature called quick replies, which presents three buttons (like, thanks, and smile) along the bottom of emails from people that just acknowledge the sender, without needing to type anything. I can see this being handy for a lot of people, as I know it’s common for emails to consist solely of “k.” They also claim to have smart notifications. Though I didn’t use them myself, I’ll be curious as I use it more what is thinks I want to be notified of. If Mail Pilot is anything to go by though, my expectations are low.