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Home / Features / Why can’t I find an email app that I want to use for love nor money?

Why can’t I find an email app that I want to use for love nor money?

What you'd think would be a simple task is impossibly difficult. Are there any good email apps out there, and will I find one?

Email apps and a laptop with Gmail

Whether I like it or not, I’ve got to spend a considerable amount of time chained to my inbox every day. Email is an inescapable chore to deal with on a daily basis. Whether it’s to sign up to something new, get a passcode to log in to something, or get sent information about the latest gadget. Whether it’s on my smartphone or laptop. My eyeballs constantly wind up staring at my inbox. But I hate looking at it.

It’s awful. It’s clunky. Emails get lost. Or I forget about them. And I’ve tried to find a better email app. Believe me, I’ve tried. At last count, I’ve downloaded and used upwards of 10 email clients… this year. But I’m convinced there’s not a single email app out there that’s actually good. But why is that?

Why do email apps suck?

Ever feel like your email is just an endless dump of spam, newsletters you never signed up for, and random CC’s that haunt you like ghosts of coworkers past? You’re not alone. Email apps seem to have a love affair with clutter. Their attempt at categorization is akin to organizing a teenager’s bedroom – either overly simplistic or a system only understood by its creator. One size fits all? More like one size fits none.

Email apps often force everyone into the same rigid, uninspiring mould. Need a specific workflow or folder setup? Tough luck! This lack of customization turns what should be a seamless tool into a square peg we’re forever trying to jam into a round hole. There are some apps and settings that try to counter this. Gmail lets you set up filters, as do plenty of other email clients. But messages often wind up making their way to the wrong place. Even the uber-modern Superhuman (billed at $35/month) restricts you to what emails it decides are important, and hides the rest away in other folders.

Superhuman email

But that isn’t a surprise. Even as AI begins to creep its way into our inboxes, email filtering still sucks. And the biggest culprit of all? The spam folder. Today’s spam filters are about as effective as a sieve holding water. Too often, they either let through a deluge of spam or enthusiastically chuck your important emails into the abyss of the spam folder. But does it even matter which folder your emails are in if you can’t use the app in the first place?

Nothing tests your patience quite like an email app that thinks loading an attachment is an overnight task. Slow performance, crashes, and the mysterious disappearance of drafts make you wonder if the app is secretly plotting against you. And let’s not even start on syncing issues across devices or with Gmail. It’s the digital equivalent of trying to herd cats. And perhaps it’s just me, but email apps just look awful. Awful. And not just bad, everything is way too samey. Just an endless list of emails. That goes on and on and on…

Plus, before even cracking an email app open, you need to make sure it’s safe to use. Using some email apps feels like you’re entering a sketchy back alley deal. The lack of robust security features, weak encryption, and the eerie feeling that someone’s scanning your emails to serve ads is enough to make anyone a tad paranoid. Yet at the same time, it needs to be connected. In the age where apps are expected to talk to each other seamlessly, many email apps still play the silent treatment. Need to integrate your calendar, tasks, or contacts? Prepare for a juggling act that would impress even the most seasoned circus performer. Gmail is the best at this so far, but doesn’t quite do the idea justice.

The Way Forward: Reimagining Email Apps

So, how do we transform the email experience from a daily frustration into a powerhouse tool that we can’t live without? Or at least something I can’t live without. Here’s the game plan:

  1. Smarter Organization and Bespoke Customisation: Harness AI and machine learning to sift through the chaos. Think of it as hiring a super-efficient PA who knows exactly what you need without being told. But don’t tell me what emails are important, let me tell you. Or better yet, learn from me. While filtering things, give users the power to tweak and tailor everything according to their whims. My email, my rules.
  2. Spam Filters That Don’t Suck: It’s 2024; surely, we can tell the difference between a prince offering us a million dollars and an important client email. There’s nothing more to be said here. Learn from me. Learn from others. Anonymise the data. Don’t just rely on flagged addresses and keywords. That’s so 2012.
  3. Reliability, Speed, and Design: Make email apps as reliable as sunrise and as quick as a gossip spreading juicy news. And for the love of God, make things look more interesting than an endless list of emails. Things should be simple, too, not with forwarding options hidden behind sub-menus (I’m looking at you, Gmail). Tighten up security while you’re at it, so that even the thought of a breach sweats bullets.
  4. Seamless Integration: Make integration so smooth that your calendar, contacts, and email are basically finishing each other’s sentences. Don’t make me press Yes before you add it to my calendar. And let me edit it. It’s on my calendar. Even if I didn’t create the event. Bah! Oh, and if you do want to try and finish my sentences, learn from me, not a generic autocorrect model.
  5. Simple View: If you really want to make email win, and this is really asking for a lot, give me a simple quick view. Let me swipe on my emails to quickly catch-up, Tinder style. Right to bin, left to keep (an unread, mind you). Or however Tinder does it. Then I can look at emails, which are already sorted, when it’s convenient to me.

Is anyone going to follow this game plan? Probably not. But app makers need to try to make the email experience something we can enjoy, not just tolerate. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, we’ll stop calling them necessary evils and start calling them necessary delights.

Profile image of Connor Jewiss Connor Jewiss


Connor is a writer for Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website. He has been writing for around seven years now, with writing across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech. Just like everyone else around here, he’s a fan of gadgets of all sorts! Aside from writing, Connor is involved in the startup scene. This exciting involvement puts him at the front of new and exciting tech, always on the lookout for innovating products.

Areas of expertise

Mobile, macOS, EVs, smart home

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