Microsoft gained its Outlook for iOS and Android apps after buying Accompli. The acquisition gave users a more appealing alternative to Outlook Web App, and a more powerful option than the default iOS Mail app.
Outlook prioritises important email by separating the inbox into 'Focused' and 'Other'. It also supports IMAP and multiple email services including Office 365, outlook.com, Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and iCloud.
Some of its best timesaving features include the right swipe on inbox items to schedule a message to be actioned in a few hours, this evening, or at a specific time. Outlook makes it easy to send files, which can be selected from OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive, or a cache of recently sent and received files.
Microsoft has improved Outlook’s document collaboration features by building in a workflow between Word, Excel and PowerPoint and Outlook to reduce the effort required to edit files on a mobile device. Likewise, Microsoft’s Office apps have gained a 'Send with Outlook' button to make sending files easier.
Google's answer to email clutter is Inbox, an app that offers its one billion Gmail users a Now-like experience - intelligently bundling email into social networking, news, and updates.
Google has been gradually adding new features to Inbox's productivity tools such as Highlights, Reminder, and Snooze, which help email become an organisational tool.
An update in July targeted the practice of sending an email by adding a feature that prompts the user to create a Reminder and transfers the text of the email to the Reminder, allowing users to schedule a time to be notified. Inbox also suggests adding a Reminder when someone sends an Inbox user a 'to-do' email. Also, Reminders made in Google’s note-taking app Keep are automatically added to Inbox.
Another time saver is Inbox's Trip bundles that keep hotel and flight bookings for each trip.
Spark has introduced its own take on the smart inbox, which automatically groups email into New, Notifications, and Newsletters. The app lets users easily toggle between the filtered view and the standard inbox view and offers natural language search, for example, 'email PDF attachments last month'.
Like Outlook, Spark also provides quick access to attachments and offers integration with several third party apps including Evernote, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, Pocket, Evernote, and OneNote. Users can attach files to email from these services or save email to them.
The app is packed with features and options to customise everything from widget shortcuts to email workflow, with the latter allowing the user to choose whether email should be archived or kept in the inbox after reading.
For people who use multiple email signatures, Spark also lets users swipe between them from within an email.
A handy feature is the ability to minimise an email you're working on, which stays open in a small window at the bottom of the screen, leaving the user free to flick through other email or attachments. The feature brings a capability from the desktop that on mobile typically involves saving it in draft and opening it again from the draft folder.
Like Outlook and Inbox, users can snooze an email simply by pinning it and selecting a time they’d like to be notified.
As the name suggests, Zero is designed to help people clear out their inbox, using its Mailfeed concept.
Instead of prioritising email as Outlook would or grouping them like Inbox, Zero's Mailfeed offers a different way of scanning through the inbox and quickly moving email to the archive.
Mailfeed presents a summary of each email in full screen cards. Swiping a card upwards will push the email to the archive, while pressing the star icon will keep it in the inbox. The user can also delete an email in Mailed or move it to another folder, but to actually reply to an email they need to swipe right to get the inbox view.
The Boxer app is available in both a free and paid-for version on iOS and as a freemium app on Android. An iOS update this July gave Boxer a built-in calendar to better compete with Outlook, while on Android Boxer rolled out a separate calendar app.
Boxer also supports Gmail, Outlook, Exchange, Yahoo, and IMAP, and offers Box, Dropbox, Evernote, and Facebook Calendar integration.
On iOS, the free app is limited to one webmail account and lacks Boxer’s custom quick templates, but still offers a short list of useful stock replies.
One of Boxer's key differentiators is the short right swipe on inbox items, which brings up a grid of shortcuts for things like sending a canned response, creating a to-do list, or making a note in Evernote. A long right swipe offers up a shortcut to the to-do list while a short left swipe archives the email and a long swipe will delete it.
Mailbox by Dropbox is aimed at Dropbox users, allowing them to push as much as possible out of the inbox while still having quick access to the archive.
The Mailbox app encourages users to choose one of three rules: archive all messages; archive all except for unread; and achieve all except starred. While pushing everything wholesale to the archive might seem daunting, the archive remains easily accessible alongside Mailbox and scheduled items.
Like Boxer, Mailbox makes use of swipe actions to show key features.
In the Mailbox view, a short left swipe will display a grid of scheduling shortcuts, while a longer swipe offers a list of to-do shortcuts such as 'to buy', 'to read', and 'to watch'. Users have the option to create their own shortcuts too.
A short right swipe will push an email across to the archive and a long right swipe will move it to the trash.
The side panel menu behind the drawer icon offers shortcuts to Mailbox, Later, Lists, Archive, Trash, as well as Settings.
Mailbox of course uses Dropbox for syncing and storage for file attachments. The app by default sends attachments as Dropbox links rather than attaching the file to the message, and lacks integration with rival file storage services.
CloudMagic bills itself as a search-focused email app.
It offers easy bulk email actions by long pressing a single email in the inbox followed by others, which can then all be moved to the archive, a folder, or trash with a single action.
There are plenty of other ways to customise notifications.
Users can configure the app to send attachments from iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and it supports Google Apps, Office 365, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Exchange, iCloud and IMAP accounts.
CloudMagic builds workflow capabilities into mobile email through cards, which are activated by tapping on the content of an email (or the card icon next to the sender’s name). Users then have the option to complete tasks in third-party apps including Evernote and Pocket.
Yet, for all its integration with third-party services, the app still lacks a built-in calendar.
CloudMagic recently introduced a new contacts-focused collaboration add-on called Team Contacts. It's aimed at business users who want to help colleagues introduce new contacts outside the organisation with a common interest. Though for now, it only works with Google Apps.