These days, our email experience usually straddles two or more devices, from your computer to a tablet or phone. Finding a single, seamless platform for this can be tricky, but Apple aficionados may have found the answer with Polymail (there’s a vague promise about Windows and Android versions, too, but that’s a long way off).
Polymail provides a cross-platform experience through MacOS, iPhone and iPad through the use of an associated Polymail account, which you’ll need to sign into (or set up) when you install it on each device to ensure a seamless experience across both. It does demand quite extensive access to your system, including contacts and calendar, but you do at least see the benefits of doing so through the app’s capabilities.
Once signed up, you add your mail accounts, which is where Polymail currently falls down. At time of writing, Polymail only supports a limited number of cloud-based accounts: Google, Microsoft (both Outlook.com and Office 365), and iCloud. Support is promised for Yahoo, Exchange and – crucially – IMAP, however.
Once set up, you’re whisked to your inbox where – for a brief moment – you see the 'Inbox Zero' screen, the nirvana of all email users. It won’t take long for this to disappear as your account is synced.
In terms of presentation, Polymail reminds us of the late, lamented Mailbox, albeit with some handy extras. It’s better integrated with its supported mail clients, for starters – if you’re a Google Mail user, for example, then you can enable ‘Gmail Categories’ to browse your messages by whatever labels you’ve assigned to them.
Select a message and you’ll see a Contacts pane appear on the right-hand screen of the Mac. This reveals useful info about that person, from their social handles (if known) to a record of previous conversations with you as well as any file attachments shared. iOS users can see this info by tapping on the contact’s name within the message body.
Other useful tools include a repeat of Mailbox’s Read Later option, allowing you to 'snooze' certain emails, to be reminded at a later date. You can also queue up messages to send later too. Polymail also has a tracked messages feature to allow you to see when someone has opened it, plus you can attach a reminder to follow up a sent email after a specified time too.
It doesn’t end there: you can unsend emails immediately after sending them, plus opt out of newsletters via a prominently placed Unsubscribe button. All of this functionality can be bolted on to other clients (including web apps), but to have it all to hand, out of the box, is welcome.
It’s not all good news – aside from the limited email provider support, we encountered issues adding Outlook and iCloud accounts (both disabled at time of writing, due to sync issues), while the lack of text-formatting options on the Mac makes it hard to read on newer Retina displays.
Despite an extensive beta program, Polymail is still plagued by basic functionality issues that – if not resolved soon – threaten to undermine what is otherwise a well presented and feature-packed Mac email client.