Review: AltaMail is a modest improvement over iOS's Mail app
At a Glance
AltaMail from EuroSmartz offers users more control over their inboxes with wireless (and offline) printing, inbox filtering, and enhanced attachment options. But the email client for the iPhone and iPad also lacks options that power users likely want. As a result, the app’s utility falls somewhere between what causal emailers and true power users demand.
While AltaMail duplicates many features found in the built-in Mail app, it offers enough improvement overall to be of use to most iPad and iPhone owners, especially given AltaMail’s support for basic email tasks as well as more complex printing options.
Wireless printing from a tablet or smartphone is one of those technologies that, after trying it for the first time, you wonder how you ever lived without it. Thanks to the ubiquity of wireless printing through Apple’s AirPrint and HP’s ePrint technologies as well as wireless-capable printers from all manufacturers, you can print an email or document from your iOS device to a printer with relative ease.
AltaMail supports wireless printing through the aforementioned technologies, Google Cloud Print, and its own WePrint software, which enables printing over cellular networks (if installed). WePrint also enables you to use AltaMail to print to older printers that don’t offer wireless functionality by using your Mac as an intermediary between your iOS device and the legacy printer. (The WePrint app must be installed on the computer.) While it’s true that the WePrint feature is but a variation on “I’ll email it to myself and print it later,” its integration here is useful, even if the result isn’t quite as groundbreaking as EuroSmartz claims.
The version I reviewed, AltaMail 3.1, introduces custom push notifications from your email accounts, although it takes some initial work to set that up. In order to provide highly customizable notifications, AltaMail requires a free companion app called WeNotify to be installed and running on your Mac. WeNotify enables users to sync their accounts without leaving their login credentials on AltaMail’s servers, thereby ensuring data privacy. Although initial setup takes some doing, power users will welcome the ability to customize notifications, provided that they use AltaMail for all of their iOS emailing needs.
In addition to printing emails, AltaMail includes an option to save emails in PDF format. Unfortunately this option is available only as a $2 in-app purchase—which seems an expensive add-on to an app that already costs $5.
AltaMail does not currently offer Dropbox or iCloud sync support, although EuroSmartz says that cloud syncing is coming soon. AltaMail does offer local file sharing through a wireless network, though. Your iOS device is assigned a local IP address which enables you to load files into AltaMail directly for later attachment. Quite frankly, simply emailing yourself a file is probably faster and easier than going through the process of loading files directly into AltaMail, which requires WeNotify—yet another free Mac companion app available on EuroSmartz’s website.
Although it falls short when it comes to importing and exporting files, it’s important to remember that AltaMail is an email app; in that sense, it does its job well. AltaMail handles writing, editing and reading email well and supports contact groups and templates—both welcome features for email power users. Sure, AltaMail’s peripheral features are lacking at times but the core email app does its job well.
Most of us have hundreds if not thousands of emails in our inboxes. AltaMail is useful because it makes taming your inbox easier and offers yet another alternative to iOS’s built-in Mail offering.