App

Spark is a hugely intelligent, useful and well-designed email app to rival the current big-hitters

Price: Free
Version: 1.0
Size: 80.2 MB
Developer: Readdle

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Apps tend to try and either do a whole bunch of different things, and do them all fairly averagely, or they’ll focus in on one thing, and do it really well. But what happens when an app tries to do a whole bunch of things and does them all really well? In a nutshell, that’s Spark – and the result is an intuitive, customizable and most of all intelligent email app. And for a free app – that’s incredible.

Smart inbox allows you to separate out new mail, or pin apps using swipe gestures. You can customize the gestures too.

Smart inbox allows you to separate out new mail, or pin apps using swipe gestures. You can customize the gestures too.

It’s easy to get started, especially if users use Google, Outlook, or any of the major online-based email accounts. Users can add as many as they want, and then sit back and allow Spark to build the inbox.

The basic view shows new mail at the top, pinned emails below that, and the rest below. You can switch email accounts by swiping from the left, or you can have everything in one box. There’s a toggle at the top which allows you to switch between the smart view, and a regular long list of emails. The smart view segregates the emails, which, unlike other emails can be customized.

Almost all settings can be set up how the user wants it – from positioning, to gestures, to what appears

Almost all settings can be set up how the user wants it – from positioning, to gestures, to what appears

Pinned emails allow you to essentially keep an email that needs your attention later right at the top so you don’t forget. It kind of flies in the face of highlighting an email to reply to properly later, perhaps on a desktop, but it’s also good to have this attention drawn for when you return to the app later. Really, Spark’s aim seems to be to stop you ever really needing what some may consider a fully-featured desktop client.

As you can see, there’s plenty to customize, but Spark’s not done. In the bottom right hand corner there is a floating menu. The blue circle with the pen lets you easily compose a new email, and the three dots takes you to further options (these can be customized, of course). The default includes a calendar. This is built-in and communicates seamlessly with your iOS calendar, pulling in all the information so you can easily see your schedule when making appointments over email without having to leave the app.

A built in calendar let's you check your schedule while making email appointments

A built in calendar let’s you check your schedule while making email appointments

Delving into the settings reveals some future capabilities, too. If you look to customize the widget there are options for package tracking, flight tracking, and social integration with the note ‘coming soon’. Services that are currently integrated include Evernote, Pocket Reader, Dropbox and loads more key platforms. You won’t have to wait for Apple Watch compatability, however – it already has a Watch app.

Back to the ‘smart’ capabilities. This also includes notifications. You can allow standard notifications that ping you with every email, but you can also set them up to be ‘smart’. This will only let you know when it’s something you want to see. This generally means it just lets you know when an email comes in that isn’t from a mailing list, or something unsolicited, but it definitely works well for an iOS app. A tweak that could be made in future updates is to have the option to set up a favorites list and only receive notifications from those email addresses.

The smart search lets you use natural language – it's not perfect, but it is decent

The smart search lets you use natural language – it’s not perfect, but it is decent

Onto the search functionality. This is also smart and allows you to use natural language to search. “Find me emails with attachments,” for example. We found this worked fairly well and you could tweak until you found what you were looking for. However, when we searched for “emails from January” it showed us a couple from February and March too, presumably because they contained the word “January”. It’s a feature that could be improved upon.

Overall, Spark should be the only email app you need and an easy replacement for the stock Mail app, or even some of the existing major players. Note: should. We didn’t experience too many issues (though it did crash more than the standard mail app tends too, but not enough to put us off completely). However, others found that the more accounts you add the more ‘crashy’ it got. Elsewhere, there’s a complete lack of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus landscape functionality. Some users have missed this, though we found the overall design of Spark so good that it wasn’t something we yearned for.

Plenty of services to integrate with...

Plenty of services to integrate with…

In conclusion, you should definitely try Spark – it might be the email app you’re looking for – and in all likelihood any grumbles are likely to be fixed in subsequent updates. The developer, Readdle, are experienced enough to get Spark right within a handful of tweaks.

Review: Spark – smart email, smart notification; smart app
For a free app, Spark has no business being this intuitive, or packed with so many features. Easily a five-star app with the below issues ironed out.
For
  • Intelligent
  • Highly customizable
  • Free!
Against
  • No landscape mode
  • Natural search could be better
  • Can be a bit 'crashy' with multiple email accounts
4.5Overall Score