30 May 17

It’s funny how things change, things like your favourite browser, your favourite photo app, your favourite email client… you get the picture.

Over the years I’ve used the Apple Mail app on iOS and Mac, Sparrow on iOS, Airmail on iOS and Mac and now… well, I’m trying out Spark.

The problem with Airmail is in the way it works. On the Mac, I’ve never really gotten into how it does certain things, things like how to download images sent to me. Printing emails or the documents contained within too were problematical as it never gave the file the correct name as Mail does.

On iOS, I have had problems with attaching photographs from the Photo app, as they would not show as sent or remained in the out box with a spinning wheel which suggested the app was trying to send it… not good at all.

So, enter Spark, an app available for both iOS and Mac. the first good thing about this email app is it’s free on both the Mac and on iOS, Airmail isn’t. Secondly, when viewed on an iPad Spark uses the available space on the screen to display emails where Airmail has the inbox mail tucked over the right of the screen.

I haven’t used Spark for long but so far I’m liking it very much. It’s a bit more intuitive and easier to use as a result.

One real difference is with the handling of sending images in iOS. With Airmail for iOS, images would be sent only if you added them through the app. Now, I can hear those Airmail (iOS) users crying out ‘yes it can!’ but let me explain. Yes, you can select an image in Photo and chose Airmail (iOS) to send from but this has been where Airmail has failed for me. 90% of the time my iOS device would think about it, then crash back to Image in Photos. The only way I could be sure of being able to share the images was to start a new email in Airmail (iOS) and then attach the images to the email. That was the only way I could do so, and when I looked into the drafts folder, I’d find all those failed attempts there as blank messages. In Spark (iOS) it just works flawlessly without the above.

Other problems seen with Airmail (iOS) where a message would fail to send and stall. When you looked in the outbox, there you would find the email with a perpetual spinning ring as that message tried, for days and days later, to go. Now you would tell me ‘just cancel it’, well, it would not… these problems were brought to the developers attention but so far it still happens.

What finally finished me with Airmail was the way in which it deals with blocked email. Now, here’s what I found most annoying and perplexing with what Airmail does. A spam email arrives… normally I’d just mark it as spam and it would be automatically placed into the spam folder to await its deletion, but after a ton of emails had finally driven me to point of madness, I started to block them. All well and good I thought… Nah! What airmail does with blocked email is to put it into the archive folder! Yes, the archive folder where any sane person would put items they want to keep for future reference etc. I thought this might be a bug, so I reported it and received a reply which surprised me… that is the way it was designed to work! If I wanted to archive those emails I’d have archived them but when I block them, I’m blocking them for a good reason and that is I don’t want email from that company or person.

So, as I said above, it’s early days with Spark but so far, it’s working really nice with no noticeable problems.

On the downside, Spark for Mac doesn’t work with SpamSieve so that means either you do without SpamSieve’s help in dealing with the current inundation of spam or hope that Spark can learn over time as you educate it as to what is and isn’t unwanted emails. Spark users through the forums have been, and are, asking for the developers of Spark and SpamSieve to bring this to the Mac but so far, we will just need wait and see. One solution is to have Airmail or Mail running in the background with the notifications for those apps off as that will allow SpamSieve to still do its thing… convoluted yes but.


James Ormiston


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