by MIKE BEASLEY
Evomail launched in 2013 as one of the many new contenders in the iPhone email client market. Today Evomail 2.0 (now branded “Evomail+”) has been released to the public. The update features a redesigned interface to blend in with iOS 7’s new aesthetic.
But is a redesign and an improved feature set enough to make you switch away from your current mail app? Keep reading to find out.
EvoCloud and Push Updates
Evomail+ includes upgrades to the EvoCloud back-end that claims it makes server-side operations up to 80% faster and improves the number of errors users see. Of course, the 80% number is theoretical, so how does it stack up against real-world usage?
Not too well, unfortunately. I turned on push notifications the night I installed the app. After reading and archiving a few emails, I woke up the next morning and found two push notifications waiting for me. These notifications were for some of the emails I had read and archived the previous night, and most of the emails I had gotten never actually showed up as push notifications at all.
Push wasn’t the only problem I had with EvoCloud. I found that I was able to compose and send new emails with no issue, but every single time I tried to send a reply, I got an authorization error from the server. I finally uncovered the issue, though: the app was not automatically filling in the recipient’s name when you press the reply button. I reinstalled the app and haven’t had as many issues with replys, though they definitely still persist is some cases.
It’s also important to note that EvoCloud stores copies of all of your emails on a third-party server. If that’s an issue you would prefer to avoid, Evomail+ may not be for you. This isn’t really a new feature of EvoCloud, but it is something important to be aware of when logging into your mail account.
Starting with iOS 7, apps are expected to forego the traditional colorful interfaces and instead rely on sparse white interfaces with color used only to emphasize important elements. Evomail+ holds to this principle pretty well, but that alone isn’t enough to give them a pass on design. Let’s dig into the design a bit more.
Evomail+ features a “one-button interface” in the mail inbox view. That’s right, there’s just one button that controls everything. That button resides in the lower-left corner. You can tap it to compose a new message, or swipe it up from the bottom to open a control bar with controls for mass-editing your inbox.
This control bar just not well designed. The first icon on the bar is an arrow pointing up. This glyph has absolutely nothing to do with the function of the button: labeling a message. Tapping it with no messages selected presents a error telling you to select some messages in order to label them or put them in a folder. If you do select a few messages and try again, and those messages happen to be from separate email accounts, the app will pop up a full-screen error telling you to only select messages from one account. Of course, it took me two or three tries to actually hit this button at all, since it was so close to the “compose” button that I kept accidentally hitting that.
The next button on the control bar has two arrows pointing to the right. I couldn’t tell if this meant “reply,” “reply all,” or “forward,” so I selected a message and tapped tapped the button. As it turns out, that button allows you to postpone a message for later.
The third button is a checkmark. This one is pretty straightforward. It’s supposed to mark images as read, right? Wrong. This button archives the selected messages. Thankfully there’s an undo button for all of those times you press a button thinking it does one thing only to discover that it does something entirely different.
The last button on the bar is an X. This one actually does what you assume: it deletes the message.
To hide the control bar, you can drag the One Button To Rule Them All back down. (Notice that the button doesn’t actually move, you just have to swipe down across it to hide the bar.) Swiping or tapping in the blank space where there aren’t any messages in the list view doesn’t close the bar.
Another use for the single button is to reply to (or forward) messages. I actually didn’t realize for a while that you have to tap and hold the button to access these functions. By “a while” I mean about three days. I ended up discovering it by accident.
Next, let’s talk about the sidebar. You can access the sidebar by swiping the button to the right. Unlike many apps that have been out for some time now, you can’t swipe anywhere on the left edge to open it. You have to use the button. Once the sidebar is open you can swipe any part of its edge to close it.
The sidebar itself contains a bunch of useful features. This is where you can find your account-specific inboxes and folders. You can also add a new account and reach the app’s settings.
In the settings page you can modify your accounts and setup signatures, aliases, gestures, your default “from” address when composing new messages, and a bunch of other features. One unfortunate omission is the inability to change the label color associated with each account. By default, a purple strip along the side of messages in the inbox indicates that they came from your primary account. A green strip indicates that the message is on the second account you added. Unfortunately, at the moment you can’t customize these colors. I have a specific color scheme that I keep consistent between my mail clients, but I was unable to implement it in Evomail 2, which did not help my workflow.
There are a few other upgrades in Evomail+, like landscape composing or support iOS 7’s background update feature, but the clunky, difficult, and unrefined interface controls, frequent server errors, and unreliable push notifications give me no choice but to recommend avoiding Evomail+ until the developers can get these issues fixed. I certainly can’t say it’s replaced the stock Mail app on my phone.
If you’d like to give Evomail+ a try anyway, you haven’t got much to lose. Even though it’s a separate download from the original version, it’s available for free to all users on the App Store.