Apple started a new trend a few years ago by allowing Mac, iPhone, and iPad users to test out beta versions of upcoming products. Beta? The recommendation is always the same. Don’t use a beta app on a device that does important work. Things happen.
Most of the time during my dozen or so years at Mac360 I’ve avoided reviewing beta products. But since beta doesn’t mean what it used to mean and there is some value in trying a beta product, I thought I could make an exception– if anything because I hate Apple’s Mail so much, and there are a number of good Mail alternatives these days.
Mail That Sings
There are problems with any email app that wants Mac users to leave Mail and try something else. Mail is feature laden. Mail works well enough to use but not love. Mail is free on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. So, any competitor has to come up with something different and better to attract a user.
Canary Mail is new. It’s in beta. It does not have all of Mail’s obvious bells and whistles but it has the basics so if clutter is one of your issues, you won’t find that in Canary Mail. It’s both familiar– unified inbox– and different (tools are on the sidebar).
Visually, Canary Mail is an improvement over Mail. Tools are visible as is inbox and each selected message. But any email app that purports to take users away from free Mail on a Mac must have something else going for it. For example, Polymail is the easiest to use email app ever, but it doesn’t do IMAP. CloudMagic does and it also runs on iPhone and iPad. But no spam catcher, which is available for Mail (SpamSieve).
Yet, Canary Mail has a few intriguing functions.
- Email Snooze – view messages you want to view, when you want to view them
- Read Tracking – this is cool; get notified by Canary Mail when your email is read
- Fully Local – messages are stored on your Mac only, not online (not sure how this works with IMAP), and encrypted
- Quick Reply – easier than Mail; a separate user box to reply to a message
- Gmail – handles labels and other Gmail-centric features
- Attachment Browser – this is much needed on every email app; a way to browse all the attachments that have been received.
Despite the fact that Canary Mail remains beta, there are plenty of useful– and somewhat differentiated– features you won’t find everywhere else.
CloudMagic Email shows us that syncing accounts between iPhone, iPad, and Mac is a huge plus to go along with an elegant, clutter-free interface. CanaryMail does not yet have an iOS version. And neither of the Mail wannabes have an option for spam catcher SpamSieve.
So far, third party email apps have enough differences to try, but getting me to hand over my hard earned money means there must be more features, better features, and the basics– IMAP, Mac and iOS sync, spam, et al.