Before Mailbox hit the App Store, I hadn’t even considered email to be like a To-Do list, with each message akin to a task to be accomplished rather than something to open and dismiss/delete. In a case of happy coincidence (or not), the release of Mailbox coincided with me starting a job, so the idea of considering emails as tasks didn’t just become a lifestyle choice – it became a necessity. When SquareOne was launched, I was wondering if it was going to be more of the same. Thankfully, it isn’t. It’s a whole new take on how email is organized.
Google redesigned Gmail to have tabs, which automatically sorted your email among themselves based on whether they were Social Media based, Promotion based, Updates or Unclassified (Primary). While this seems to be universally reviled, it’s something I accepted and got used to. I also appreciated how you could reassign categories to your mails, based on your own judgement. SquareOne is a mobile client that takes this concept further.
When you fire up the app, you’re presented with a dashboard view, with several categories in-built, and the ability to add your own or even remove those that the app comes with. You can trawl through your email and classify senders under each category. All those that you haven’t classified show up in the ‘Unsorted’ category. The best part about this organisational system is that you can mute notifications for individual categories, thereby allowing you to cut through the clutter to get to the important mail. It is especially useful if, like me, you get tons of mail that you don’t need or want to reply to when you’re on the go, but you also get mail that you need to respond to promptly, regardless of the situation.
Of course, all your mail, whether muted or not, is available to view in any other client. I especially like the fact that SquareOne does not create separate folders/labels on my mail server. All its magic is within the app only, and what an app it is to behold. The interface is beautifully minimalistic, and right at home on iOS 7. White spaces dominate, but never in a way that makes you feel like space is wasted. Incidentally, I hope they come out with a Dark Mode, soon. I really like Tick, a To-Do app we’ve reviewed here at BP, and a Dark Mode enabled SquareOne would look just as gorgeous.
When you create your own categories, or edit the pre-existing ones, you have a VERY large selection of glyphs to choose from for them. The Dashboard is yours to rearrange as you please. In the Inbox view, accessible by tapping on any category, swipe to the left to sort your mail into any other category (if needed), and swipe right to archive them. The sidebar baked into the app allows you to Silence all zones, Unsilence all zones, and access your Archived Mail, Sent Mail or Drafts. Another aspect I REALLY like is that the compose window allows you to insert any signature you store, or make a new one. Instead of burying it in the Settings menu and making it Account specific, the devs thoughtfully made it Mail-specific. The whole app really works very, very smoothly.
Unfortunately, there are a few things missing that prevent me from replacing Mail.app completely. For one, SquareOne is currently Gmail only, and for another, it is only available on the iPhone. This should, hopefully, change when the app gains traction. Finally, while I understand them using Gmail’s philosophy of never deleting mail and only archiving it, I don’t see any reason why the option to delete mail isn’t present in the app. A small niggle, sure… But a niggle nonetheless.
SquareOne is a fantastic mail client for the iPhone, and it would be hard to not recommend it, even if it wasn’t available for free. Get it from the App Store, and make email work for you.