In 2014, Google radically rethought how email should work. The ideas it introduced through its then new Inbox app—reminders! snoozing! bundles!—have since been absorbed into Gmail prime. At the time, though, bringing those features to the most popular email service on the planet served a surprisingly important purpose: helping people outside the power-user set expect more.
Now Inbox is dead. You’ve had plenty of time to prepare yourself for this moment. Google first announced Inbox’s impending demise last September, explaining that it wanted to “take a more focused approach” to email. Still, in case you ignored the warning (or have been in denial ever since), it’s time to shop for a new home.
There is no perfect one-to-one replacement for Inbox. But there are lots of email apps out there that give you way more—or less, if your endgame is simplicity—than either Gmail or the stock iOS Mail app. Here are just a few that might fill the Inbox-sized hole in your heart.
One caveat: If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s not to get too attached to any of these. You never know which might be next on the chopping block.
Let’s start with a popular email client that briefly died and came back. Newton’s creators stopped updating the app last fall, after failing to find a sustainable business model for email. In December, Andy Rubin’s Essential bought Newton parent company CloudMagic, refurbished the app, and chopped the $100 yearly price in half.
Fifty bucks is still a lot to spend on email—especially given the prevalence of solid free services out there—but it at least gets you a laundry list of features. You can snooze emails, create category tabs for not just Gmail but all your other email accounts, schedule sent messages, and integrate apps like Evernote and Pocket. It also works across Apple Watch and WearOS, for those of you who write responses from your wrists. If you juggle multiple accounts and providers and don’t mind spending the cash, Newton might be what you’re looking for.
Spark has over a million Apple users, and it launched on Android on Tuesday, just in time to pass Inbox on its way out the door. At this point, admittedly, the feature sets are going to start sounding a little bit redundant. Spark has the same email scheduling, prioritizing, snoozing, and customizing you’ll find from other premium offerings. But it has the twin advantages of also being free and offering a unique focus on collaborative use cases.
With Spark, teams can write emails together in real time or generate a secure link to a specific email. And even if you’re going solo, you can take advantage of Spark’s advanced customization options, including limiting notifications to incoming messages from real people that you actually know, and setting your own swipe gestures. If you like to tinker, you’ll like Spark.
Stop! Wait! Come back! Years ago, Outlook and its predecessor, Hotmail, were internet punch lines. But Outlook is very good and has been for longer than you might think. Its standout feature is a so-called Focused inbox that prioritizes emails it identifies as the most urgent, but it also offers little touches like quick calendar access, a persistent response bar, and swipe gestures to dispatch with scheduling, deleting, and archiving.
All of those add up to saving you precious taps; the best email app is the one you can spend the least amount of time in. Yes, it works with Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo Mail, and more. And unlike some other names on this list, you can be fairly confident that Outlook will stick around for as long as you need it.
Some points off here for being iOS only and costing five bucks. But a big heaping pile of points on for having among the most integrations of any app on this list, as well as a complementary, top-notch desktop version. Airmail works with attachments Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, and Droplr; you can send emails to over two dozen calendar, text editing, and to-do apps. If email is at the center of your workflow, Airmail makes for as good a hub as any.
It also looks nice—an underrated feature, especially if you spend hours a day fracking your emails in pursuit of inbox zero. As an added bonus, it’s also one of the few apps anywhere on iOS to make good use of 3-D Touch. (Remember 3-D Touch?)
Formerly known as EasilyDo, Edison distinguishes itself with speed, as well as an “intelligent assistant” that gives it a Google Now-type flair. The former saves you time; the latter provides you with real-time travel and delivery notifications, quick access to attachments, and more. As another fun twist, it lets you block emails from senders you’re tired of hearing from.
It also doesn’t store your email on its servers, instead keeping them end-to-end encrypted. That said, keep in mind that Edison was involved in a kerfuffle last year when it acknowledged that employees had read the emails of hundreds of users to help craft new features. Do with that what you will!
Sorry. Had to do it. No need to link to the Android version here, since it comes preloaded. Gmail has its faults and it’s certainly not flashy, but lots of what you enjoyed about Inbox has wound up there. Not only that, it already has a lot of the marquee features—snoozing, reminders, smart replies—that third-party apps have used to distinguish themselves. And it continues to improve, adding the ability to schedule emails just yesterday.
Most of all, Gmail seems highly unlikely to shut down before Google itself does, meaning it’s the last home your compose window will need to find. With so much folderol hitting your inbox every day, it’s nice at least not to have to think about where it lands.