Mail Pilot for iPhone and iPad review: turn your inbox into a productivity powerhouse

Mail Pilot for iPhone and iPad review: turn your inbox into a productivity powerhouse

There are lots of alternative mail clients available in the App Store and Mail Pilot for iPhone and iPad is the newest addition. While the workflow concepts are simliar to that of apps like Mailbox, the overall interface and design is rather different. Not to mention, Mail Pilot supports an array of clients including both Gmail and iCloud.

I backed Mail Pilot in its infancy stages last summer when it started out as a Kickstarter project. It was a great idea and I'm excited to finally give it the review treatment and find out whether or not it really was worth the wait.

The first thing you'll be asked to do after downloading Mail Pilot to your iPhone or iPad is to sign into all of your accounts. The main difference between Mail Pilot and Mailbox is that there isn't support for only Gmail. Mail Pilot actually supports all mainstream IMAP email servers. This means you can add your iCloud account, Yahoo, AOL, Gmail (including Google apps), or any other modern IMAP account. I've strayed away from apps like Mailbox because it supports only Gmail, which leaves me toggling between two mail clients in order to access all my accounts within iOS. Not really a valid solution in my book so I'm excited at the prospect of having a secondary option for an all in one alternative.

Syncing my accounts was super simple and only took a few minutes. After that I was able to view all my inboxes in one place or separate them via the pullout menu on the left hand side. Here you can easily access all your incomplete items, dates & lists, items you've set aside, completed items, and sent messages. You can also drill down and view things on a per account basis right another the main menu. For most users, you'll probably spend most of your time in the unified view since it makes quickly accessing and marking messages much easier.

Mail Pilot for iPhone and iPad uses a series of gestures and taps in order to interact with messages. Tapping on any message will open that thread. You can easily view all messages attached to it as well as reply or forward in a single tap. There's a small carrot in the bottom right hand corner of each message. Tapping on this will display a submenu containing message actions. You can either file it away for an exact date, add it to a list, save it for an undetermined amount of time with the generic save for later option, or delete it. If you add it to an exact date with the calendar icon, it will automatically appear back in your inbox on the date you have specified. If you choose the general save for later date, it'll show up under that tab in the bottom navigation for you to deal with at your convenience.

The good

  • Support for almost every IMAP account which will keep everything in sync between devices and other mail clients
  • Intuitive gesture controls that just make sense
  • Folder syncing is super fast
  • No reservation line, which means you can get access right now

The bad

  • No push notifications (yet)
  • Price point may be a little higher than what some are willing to spend for something iOS technically already does

The bottom line

Considering Mail Pilot took so long to come to fruition, other third party mail clients made appearances and will ultimately make the competition even tougher. The high price point may be enough to turn off some users while others will automatically choose it over other options since it supports a plethora of IMAP account types, not just Gmail. The lack of push notifications is a letdown but leaving the default mail sound for the native Mail app on somewhat solves the problem.

Overall, Mail Pilot is off to a great start and if they can overcome some small issues such as lack of push notifications, they could easily become a fan favorite when it comes to alternative mail apps for iPhone and iPad.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Mail Pilot for iPhone and iPad review: turn your inbox into a productivity powerhouse

26 Comments

Well...you can't say they don't have a revenue model. Yegads! I might consider it, but it MUST have push, and I want to see some detailed video reviews.

oh if they can get that push thing figured out this could be a winner, price point and all.

$15 is a tough sale for me. I am all for supporting devs, but $15 to do what my phone already does is tough to justify to myself(even if this blows the stock app away). I will watch to see if it drops below 9.99. Thanks for the good review!

I really wish iTunes and or app makers would put out "trial" apps. I'd like to just try this for a couple of days to see if I like it before shelling out $15.

When I was reading the review I was excited about the app, then I got to the part of no Push and the cost is $14.99. Too high for my needs and for all the options you can get in the App Store, and like Ally says is not like you can't have an ok experience with the default app. Too bad

I pre-ordered this app and the developers have shown a lot of integrity in how they've treated backers and pre-orders since moving away from a subscription-based model. That said, the app has some major issues, that if not fixed, will never let it compete in a sea of iOS email clients as it truly has the capability of doing.

Unfortunately, Allyson (in her review here) either inadvertently left out some of the other "Bad" points, or is reviewing through rose-colored glasses. Here are the problems I see with Mail Pilot that really need to be addressed (and bear in mind I really like Mail Pilot a lot)...but problems are problems and need to be fixed.

- As already noted, no push notifications, and this is huge if we're to move to this app full-time.

- VERY slow connecting with Gmail. Takes approximately 16-20 seconds (on a fast WiFi) to move between folders (labels) or to populate messages each time you open it or move between folders.

- Arbitrarily adds MANY labels to your Gmail label structure (the original Mail Pilot web app only added about three). Every time you mark a message for review on a specific date (one of the core strengths of Mail Pilot), it creates a new Gmail label for that date. This alone causes scores of new labels to be created if you're managing a lot of messages for review on later dates, and then to exacerbate this problem the folders don't go away after the messages in them have been acted on, deleted, etc. So you have to manually purge them and even after only two days of using it this has proven to me to be a major issue.

- No pinch-to-zoom (on every message). Not sure what the criteria is, but a few messages (most of those that are HTML) seem to work OK, but any text-only messages won't zoom.

- The previous problem is a big deal since the font size in Mail Pilot is TINY (no...let's make that MINISCULE). So if you can't pinch-to-zoom, you better have very young eyes with perfect vision or you'll be putting on drugstore glasses just to read your email. For me, this may end up being one of the showstoppers. The developers really needed to have some folks on the beta with less than perfect vision. Also, the grey text (instead of black) makes it even more difficult to read your email. I realize this is aesthetically pleasing as a color scheme, but why not make it a user-configurable feature.

- No landscape mode on the iPhone version (this works OK on an iPad, though). So you can't view very much of the message text even when reading a message that will, in fact, zoom larger.

- Very poor support of IMAP email servers (other than the big ones, like Gmail, Yahoo, etc.). I'm a geek, have my own IMAP server that works perfectly on every mail client I want to use it with, but it doesn't work with Mail Pilot. Mail Pilot apparently will login to it OK, but there is some advance parameter that Mail Pilot doesn't like, and it can't tell me what that is...instead it just says it "can't connect". (Mail Pilot tech support, though quick to answer, is no help on this issue.)

There are a few other minor issues, but they are more personal preference than anything, so I won't list them. However, I feel the above problems truly need to be addressed if Mindsense wants Mail Pilot to actually succeed, be acquired...or whatever their goal may be. I don't even have a problem with the price point...but it's certainly not worth it without push notifications and at least a promise to fix some of the problems Mail Pilot currently has. I also think the company truly cares about their users...but perhaps they've just been too wrapped up in how they want the app to be to consider what the app users might want...and let's face it, for this much money the user needs to be happy and have some user-configurable features. If they're willing to listen and update it...fine. If not, they're going to have a long and silent bus ride home. All this said...I want to reiterate that I am still a big fan of the app and just hope it matures into what it could be.

Thank you for an honest review. The price is far too high to even be considered a contender, and the horrible label-cluttering (along with lack of push notification) breaks the app for me.

It looks like iam the only one who got the Mail Pilot app yesterday for free?
Just checked the store for the app and saw it was setup free in the first minutes... before the price raised to 15$.

but also, without push notificiations its quite useless for me

The price is ridiculous. The basic iOS email program will cover all of my email accounts, and it comes with it. $15? They're out of their minds. I waited 4 weeks to finally get Mailbox. Very disappointing, and that app was free. Mailbox is very boring in it's looks. And no push. I can hardly see spending that much money on yet another e-mail app.

Allyson,

This is only the second review that has been flawed enough to move me to want to comment, and yet again it is one of yours.

I feel that your backing of the app has tainted the review to such a point that it's an advertisement rather than a truthful description of the app's true current worth. You go so far as to slyly slam Mailbox twice in the review, yet completely whitewash Mail Pilot's own glaring flaws (extremely high price, no push notifications) and completely ignoring critical issues (label cluttering, broken IMAP implementation).

I'm an avid lover of iMore and the Mobile Nations set, but reviews like these tarnish an otherwise high-quality website.

Wow, no - me contributing $20 or so dollars a year ago does not make me biased. That doesn't even make any sense? They aren't paying me, I paid them.

I pointed out no push. As far as the labels go, I guess I just don't consider that to be an issue. It's the same thing mailbox does when creating different items for later, etc.. that's a matter of opinion - I don't mind the labels being created, I can remove them if I want later. Perhaps that bothers some users though. As far as broken IMAP implementation, I linked 3 google apps accounts, and an iCloud account, no lags as a previous commenter stated in my experience. So no "broken IMAP implementation" to report.

I'm sorry, I don't think Mailbox was a very good model - Gmail only? It made it not useable for me since I have multiple accounts with multiple hosts and didn't care to toggle between two mail apps when the native one can handle what i need. Mail Pilot supports more, to me, that makes it better.

I'm sorry you don't agree but i'm not advertising for anyone here.

Seems like a very dynamic, and vibrant app for people that are very organized, but I don't think $14.99 is worth something that could easily go on a Calender. To do list inside of your email inbox? It's too cluttered. ✘

I think this app is way overpriced. The fact that it doesn't even have push notifications and they charge 14.99 is beyond surprising.

One question: Can this app make certain emails get dumped directly into a list? A way of auto-organizing your emails? I suggested this to Mailbox and they are considering it.

Yikes! This app is $14.99 with no push notification. They just lost me. I appears to be a solid app, but missing the push is a major problem. Great review!

While the idea of Mailbox and Mail Pilot are great. It needs exchange support. Especially for $15. The stock mail app is great for ally personal things. All I need with that is the ability to move certain emails into folders. Exchange support would be great and it needs to have it for the price. That's where my workflow is. Not on Gmail or iCloud.

I don't mind the labels I can manage them. But no push notifications? And the price tag, it's just too expensive an app! I think twice about buying even the cheapest of the apps. Mostly try out the lite/free versions before. $15 is way too steep.

I have now tested Mail Pilot with over ten different IMAP accounts and it does not work smoothly with ANY of them for more than a few minutes. There is no support for IMAP through Office 365, either. I also contributed to this project and I am so disappointed with the result. Given my experiences, I find it hard to believe the author has seriously tested out Mail Pilot. My (unsolicited) advice is to stay away until the developers get their act together.

First thing I noticed was that there was no free trial or freemium model. I'll look again if it hits one the aforementioned price points, if I haven't been swooned by a competing app by then.
-SAB