Email as we know it has a problem. Email is the killer app of the internet. Honestly, I think that dealing with email and spam can shorten your life. The technology industry throws around buzzwords with the abandon of a politician with a bag full of rhetoric. VR is virtual reality. AR is augmented reality. An old one is AI. Artificial intelligence. Artificial hype, maybe.
Here’s a look at a Mac email app that’s been around awhile, gets better, and uses a buzzword to describe functions. Astro is a new age Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Amazon Alexa email application that claims to be born of artificial intelligence.
As to email apps for Mac, iPhone, or iPad, there are few that I have not tried; some I’ve used awhile, mostly I end up going back to Apple’s Mail, but more recently I settled on Airmail for now (because it integrates with SpamSieve, and syncs between Mac, iPhone, and iPad). Is there anything better? If you believe in the gods of artificial intelligence, perhaps. Astro. This makes your mouth water, right? Email everywhere, voice controlled, Mac, iPhone, iPad?
Great, right? And free, too?. For now. There is a caveat-based gotcha I’ll get to in a moment.
Astro has all the new age email features. A priority multi-account Inbox. A Snooze option to keep an email message warm while you do other things. An Unsubscribe option to get rid of unwanted incoming email, sometimes known as spam (and does anybody’s unsubscribe actually work in the same year as you invoke it?).
Good so far, right?
Thanks to the built-in Astrobot function, notifications can be customized, folders of email messages can be organized and remain fully compatible with Gmail and Office 365 folders (think Outlook). Astro is smart enough to view and set personal reminders. If there are questions in a message, the built-in Astrobot can remind you.
You gotta love a Send Later feature (hint: Gmail and Office 365). Attachments can be dropped into Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, iCloud, your Mac, or elsewhere. And, of course, Signatures. Lots of signatures. Astro even uses the MacBook Pro’s new built-in Touch Bar. What’s not to like? Astro is smart. Astro is free. Astro runs on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android devices, and Amazon Echo.
Caveat? Yeah, kinda sorta mostly. Astro works with Gmail and Office 365 email, unified, yes, but Yahoo!, iCloud, or standard IMAP email accounts need to apply.
I like what I see. So far. Astro is well differentiated from the likes of Airmail or Spark, less feature-laden than Apple’s own Mail, but with features you won’t find in Mail. There’s no price tag, and rightly so. Some features, like Send Later, are easily handled in Gmail and Office 365 (MailButler has it for the Mac and Apple’s Mail).
Here’s what I think will happen. Gmail and Office 365 email users are a big target group and a good way to get the feature set settled, get some road under the tires, so to speak. At some point in the future, Astro may be available to non-Gmail and non-Office 365 users– the rest of us. And we’ll see a price tag. When Astro does standard IMAP email, I’ll come back to kick the tires again.