It is a firm conviction of mine that there are no perfect solutions in life, there are only tradeoffs, and we try to manage those tradeoffs to make them the best we possibly can. Because of *scarcity*, not just in resources, but in how people are different, and in the wide divergence of issues we face in life, trying to fix one issue, often creates problems to solve in other places. We face these issues in politics, economics, technology, science, and elsewhere. We see it when we study choices that were made in the past. Indeed, tradeoffs are so prevelant in all of life that you will see it as a running theme in many of my posts.
One area I have considered tradeoffs in is technology, and email apps in particular. (There are other tradeoffs in technology I hope I can get to at some point such as battery life vs. the weight and thinness of the phone.) Although I like Apple’s email app, I wanted more and I also enjoy trying the latest apps, the tech nerd that I am. So I have arrived at a solution involving, yes, tradeoffs, which means I primarily use two different email apps.
Dispatch is the the first app and it is the single most powerful app that I know of for executing actions to send your email to different locations. I can send an email to evernote, create an action in omnifocus, create a new event in fantastical, and many others. It also allows you to export an email as a PDF. I can send an article I want to read to Instapaper, or a video to Pocket. Dispatch makes it easy to get your inbox to zero (not that my inbox is at zero). There are a few downsides to Dispatch that drove me to look for a second emailing app. One is that Dispatch does not do a good job at scaling emails to get the whole message on screen. Often I have to fight with it, and I just don’t want to have to do that. I also find that, although the UI is simple to use, it is aesthetically unpleasant. So I searched for an app to complement Dispatch, and I believe I have found one and it surprised even me.
I landed at Microsoft’s Outlook for iOS, and I think it is fantastic. The UI is both simple, and beautiful. The app also has many functions going for it. You swipe left to archive, and swipe right to schedule it to appear at a time of your choosing (a la Mailbox, by Dropbox). Those that you schedule will be placed in a scheduled folder that Outlook creates for you. There are two primary folders that Outlook has, one is Focused and the other is Other. Microsoft breaks up the emails into what it thinks is important for you to see first, and it puts everything else into Other. You can train Outlook to put the right emails in the correct location to. You do this by moving an email into the folder you desire it to be in, and Outlook will create a rule so it will always put future emails from that address into the correct folder. Or you can just move that particular email into the desired folder without creating a rule.
Outlook also contains tabs across the bottom, the first being for mail. The next tab over opens up your calendar view which syncs with your iCloud and Gmail calendars. This is useful for saving dates or reviewing dates right from within the app. Another tab is files. From here you can access all your files with Onedrive, Box, and Dropbox. This is handy for attaching files from any of these, the only downside being if you use iCloud Drive. As of now Outlook does not support iCloud Drive, but I wouldn’t expect that to be permanent. The next two tabs are for contacts and settings respectively.
Currently Outlook works with Outlook accounts, Exchange, iCloud, and Gmail. It does not currently support custom IMAP.
Together, both these apps complement each other for me. Neither one of them carries all the features I want, and I would love to have one app together with all these features. But I deal with the tradeoffs and try to work my best around the apps that are available. There are plenty of other apps too that I could cover, but space does not allow. Perhaps in a future post I can cover these other apps in detail.
- If you get a lot of emails, I would recommend the app Triage. It’s great for quickly going through all your new emails and archiving or keeping what you need.