Spark for iPad is finally here
Last week, I was delighted at the news that Readdle had just released an iPad version of its popular email client, Spark. I was even happier after I’d spent some time playing with it over the weekend.
Spark is everything an iPad email client is meant to be. Until now, I’ve been mostly disappointed by the offerings on the iPad and up until a few days ago, had opted to choose Apple’s default Mail.app for my email needs. Many of the mail apps that I’d tested in the past tend to use only half of the screen when displaying messages, resulting in a scrunched-up (and annoying) split view. Other Mail apps don’t provide an easy way to create aliases (Outlook, I’m looking at you), which, if you have multiple domains and businesses, is essential. Neither of these is an issue with Spark however. Spark takes full advantage of the iPad screen and makes it easy to add in all of your email aliases. It’s also worth noting that Spark works with Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo, iCloud, Outlook and most IMAP accounts.
Spark offers a unified Inbox, making it easy to view all of the messages for all of your accounts in one place. Moreover, you have the choice of displaying your messages in standard Inbox view (like you see in Apple Mail’s unified Inbox) or in Spark’s Smart Inbox. Smart Inbox brings together the messages from all of your accounts and categorizes them into groups such as: New, Personal, Notifications, and Newsletters, which makes for easy processing. The Smart Inbox helps you to narrow down your focus to those types of message that are most relevant to you at the moment.
On the iPad, you can switch Inbox views by clicking the message icon on the top-left corner of the message list window and choosing either Smart Inbox or Inbox. The iPhone version includes a handy switch icon on the top right corner of the window from where you can toggle the Smart Inbox On or Off. Any messages that you have pinned (by clicking the pushpin icon on top of the message window) will display at the top of your Smart Inbox window.
Spark also includes the ability to hide messages from your Inbox until a specified point in the future, a feature we’re seeing in more and more mail apps these days. In Spark, you can chose from one of the default snooze options (Later Today, Tomorrow, Next Week) or manually choose the date you want from the date picker. From the Settings area, you can customize the default snooze options that are available.
Clicking the Share icon on the bottom of the message window displays the Share Sheet from which you can choose from the following options: Print, Save, Move, Archive, Delete, View Details, Mark as Spam, Save as PDF (my favorite!) and More. From the More sheet, you can send an email to an application such as 2Do, Todoist, Notes, Pocket, Instapaper, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook and much more. Message actions can really decrease the amount of time you spend processing messages. They also make sharing your messages with others or on Social Media a snap.
One of the strengths of Spark is the ability to open a wide variety of attachments, many natively. This include zip files, pdf files, Google docs and more. You can also save any attachments from your messages to a variety of different cloud services such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Google Drive and Evernote. Likewise, you can easily attach files to your messages from your cloud services.
Customize Your Swipes
One of my favorite features of Spark is the ability to customize the behavior of your swipes. From the Settings menu, click the Personalization category and the click the Swipes icon. From here, you can choose the action of your left Short, left long, right short and right long swipes. Actions include:
- Mark Read/Unread
- Move to
- Move to Spam
- Save to Evernote
- Save to Dropbox
- Save to Box
- Save to Google Drive
- Save to OneDrive
The ability to Modify the swipe behavior makes Spark a truly flexible email app.
Speaking of Swipes, if you are in full message reading view (by tapping a message to display it full screen), swiping from right to left moves you to the next message in your Inbox, a feature which I find especially handy.
In addition to swipes, Spark lets you choose what appears in the Sidebar. You can select which accounts show in the Inbox, the categories that display in the Smart Mailbox and the accounts for which to display snoozed messages, archives and attachments.
Speaking of attachments, if you tap the Attachments widget on the Sidebar (which displays by default), Spark displays all of the attachments from your messages in one list, sorted by date in descending order. There is a also a handy calendar widget that displays your upcoming appointments. From Settings, you can add additional widgets to the Sidebar including a specific folder, a smart folder, pinned items, snoozed items, spam, inbox or archives.
Settings also include options to change your background color, choose the mail toolbar action of the e-mail viewer and what the app does when a message is archived or deleted. It even allows you to set your default browser to Safari, Chrome or to the in-app browser.
The Search feature in Spark is quite impressive. In addition to using standard search terms, Spark offers Natural Language Search. For instance, you can say “attachments from Mike” or “messages last week about wedding”. Search is instantaneous, with matching categories quickly appearing as you type. Tapping the desired match in the results list will display all messages for the search term.
If you are the type of person who likes to send quick, no-nonsense replies, then you might like the Quick Replies feature. What this does, is allows you to fire off one-tap quick respoinses such as Like, Thanks, Agreed and more by clicking the icon you want from the Quick Replies area on the bottom of the message. You can customize which Quick Reply options you want to appear, change the icons or completely turn off the feature.
Those are just a few of the many features of this remarkable email app. From all this gushing, you’ve no doubt concluded that I like Spark. I do. I like it so much in fact, that I’ve relegated the Apple Mail icon to a folder and placed Spark in the Dock for easy access. I’ve conducted all of my email business from Spark for several days now and thus far, the experience has been enjoyable and exceptional.
You can check out Spark in the App Store