Readdle’s popular Spark email app for iOS just received the biggest update of its young existence. The timing of such an update couldn’t have been better with the unfortunate demise of Mailbox — a once beloved email app that’s scheduled to shut down tomorrow, February 26th.
Prior to today’s update, Spark was well-liked, but the lack of iPad support made it difficult for some to adopt it as a full time client. Now that iPad support, and several other new features have arrived, Spark feels as if it’s now ready for prime time. Should you consider adopting Spark as a part of your email workflow?
Spark 1.6 changes
Here are some of the more outstanding changes to come to Spark 1.6
- iPad support, including support for the 12.9″ iPad Pro
- New languages (9 in total): English, German, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese and Portuguese
- Settings and Accounts syncing via iCloud
- watchOS 2 support
The main takeaway from my time with Spark is that it feels more mature. Sure, support for the iPad makes it easy to feel that way, but the overall level of polish has noticeably increased. Check out our 50 getting started tips for Spark for a look at many of the app’s additional features.
Up until recently, I’ve been a big fan of Microsoft Outlook for iOS. The primary reason for choosing Outlook was due to its iPad support. Now that Spark supports the iPad, I’ve switched to using it as my full time email client.
As mentioned, Spark hasn’t merely been updated with general iPad support, but it’s been updated to work with the iPad Pro. Native iPad Pro support is a very big deal for me, and I’m sure other Pro owners will feel the same. The fundamentals of the app don’t really change when compared to using Spark on a smaller device like the iPhone, but having Spark on the iPad Pro is a great experience for power users.
Syncing settings via iCloud
Another hugely convenient feature to make it to Spark 1.6 is the ability to sync settings and accounts via iCloud. Make no mistake, this is major new feature. It means no longer having to deal with the meticulous task of setting up email accounts from scratch on every iOS device. It also means that, along with email accounts, all Spark preferences will transition over as well. For someone like me with five or six email accounts, it’s hard to overstate how brilliant this feature is.
watchOS 2 support
With Spark 1.6, Readdle is officially supporting watchOS 2 for its Apple Watch efforts. This means that Spark now functions as a native app on Apple Watch, and comes with a noticeable speed increase.
Why you should consider using Spark
Besides the obvious addition of iPad support, Spark is just a solid email client with a lot of practical features. Known for reducing the friction normally associated with managing email, Spark lets you easily process items in your inbox using gestures, features a Smart Inbox that breaks up email into logical categories, and contains search capabilities that let you easily hone in on specific messages using natural language.
One of the biggest features that former users of Mailbox will appreciate is the ability to snooze emails. Mailbox made its name off that ability, so snoozing will be a big draw for Mailbox fans.
I’ve never been keen on the concept of snoozing emails, but I know that a lot of people are enthralled with the idea. By utilizing the snooze button in the upper right-hand corner of an email, you can remind yourself to address a message at a later time. Users have the option of further customizing snooze alert times and availability within Spark’s preferences.
Spark prides itself on personalization in a number of ways. Users are encouraged to customize the app’s Sidebar, which contain shortcuts to the Smart Inbox, Attachments, Snoozed email, and more. You can fully customize the Sidebar and add or remove a variety of different shortcut cards just by venturing into the app’s preferences.
Along with the Sidebar, Spark lends the ability to customize swipe gestures. In all, there are four types of swipe gestures available: left short, left long, right short, and right long. Spark lends users a boatload of customized swipe actions, including:
- Mark as read/unread
- Move to…
- Move to Spam
- Save to Evernote, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive
- More (iOS Share Sheet)
The last big personalization feature is Widgets. Widgets provide even more quickly accessible shortcuts. Certain application shortcuts, like Calendar access, can only be accessed via Widgets, but there is definitely some overlap provided between Widgets and the Sidebar.
It doesn’t stop there
Outside of the primary “personalization” panel in Spark’s settings, there’s a whole host of additional options and settings to be configured. Let’s have a look at some of the other ways to customize Spark to your liking.
The Email Viewer preferences let users adjust the type of buttons that appear when viewing and managing individual emails. Spark gives you the option of enabling Archive, Delete, or Archive and Delete buttons at the bottom of individual emails. You can also choose what happens after an email is archived or deleted, and you can configure the browser that will open upon tapping a link within an email.
It should come as no surprise that signatures can be customized within Spark as well. You can add as many custom signatures as you wish, and make specific email accounts default to a signature of your choosing. I love the way Spark handles signature management, as it lets you quickly swipe between signatures, or disable the signature all together while composing a new email.
Spark also lets you curate how notification badges are displayed on its Home screen app icon. Notification badges can be toggled globally, for individual accounts, or for new messages only. By providing such options, Spark helps you reign in notification badges to a manageable level.
The main downside to using a third-party email app like Spark is that you can’t set it as the default email app in iOS. This means that the stock Mail app will automatically launch when tapping email links in Safari and in other locations. True, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s one that I’m willing to live with for the many positive features that Spark adds to my email workflow. Best of all, Spark is absolutely free on the App Store, so there’s really no excuse not to try it.