Developers: Mindsense LLC
How often do you find your constant lists of emails unorganized, inaccessible and difficult to understand?
This was the notion that Mail Pilot developers are responding to in their building of a “context-based mail reader” called Mail Pilot. As they stated up front on their site, they wished to help the everyday user access their inbox like a “to-do list”. They marketed this via Kickstarter, attracted over 154 percent funding for the project, and were featured by prominent industry figureheads like tech columnist David Pogue and Wired, among others.
So what’s all the buzz about?
It all comes down to taking action in your inbox. In Mail Pilot there are three unique actions you can perform in correlation with an email: you can either “Complete” it if it is an action, “Set Aside” the email for later-time use, or set it apart to use at a later time (which you determine). It’s an effective system of organization, though it is focused more on task-based email rather than the everyday email that I often find in my own inbox. I found myself having little idea of what to do with the general spammy email that I didn’t see as having some use for. Do I set it aside, or do I just leave it? The answer to these questions became more clear as I used the app more and more, but there is definitely a learning curve involved in thinking about your inbox in this way.
Though most of Mail Pilot’s features feel intuitive and impressive, they’re not perfect. The app still has issues accessing these emails offline and somewhat clumsily handles cloud synchronizing. Mail Pilot tends to put all inbox emails into its “Incomplete” folder. However, when I would move an email from Incomplete to “Set Aside,” I found that the email had disappeared from my inbox altogether. If I later needed a file on my computer, and I “Set It Aside,” I would not be able to access that file off my device. I was able to find folders on my Gmail account which contained the emails/files I was looking for, but these folders were hidden from plain sight within the app.
It’s hard to talk further about Mail Pilot without mentioning it’s hefty price: $14.99. That is a lot to pay for a modern app when popular apps are close to a dollar apiece these days. The software is unique enough to warrant the price – Mail Pilot is not just a revamp of Mail. If you scoff at the idea of paying $14.99 for a mobile mail client, that may or may not really matter.
Speaking of other apps, it’d be a crime not to make the comparison to a recently released free app called Mailbox, which takes a very similar “Inbox Zero” approach to email. Even the swipes left and right to take action on each item feel eerily similar to that app.
Mail Pilot definitely works to justify its price. Everything feels sturdy, robust and well thought-out. Things like attachments and conversation threads work great across different mail services and even Mail Pilot’s way of importing your information feels intuitive. I imported four email accounts, all of which easily integrated into the system perfectly.
The visual design of the app is fantastic as well-the sparse, but effective red and white themes making everything easy on the eyes. Compared to the flat design of Mailbox, Mail Pilot manages to find a nice balance between being visually appealing and not being overburdensome.
Ultimately, what you get with Mail Pilot’s premium price tag is a premium product. It can handle email accounts across every imaginable service and look great while doing so, which is no easy feat. However, Mail Pilot is not for everyone and was made with a very specific person in mind. First off, it’s really expensive-and secondly, not everyone is going to feel comfortable treating their inbox like a “to-do list.” However, if you are a power-user who likes the idea of an Inbox Zero email client, but are skeptical of Mailbox’s less-than-perfect performance (or you don’t use Gmail)-Mail Pilot might just be worth the price of admission.