A number of companies are rethinking how email should work in this mobile age, but the team from Acompli, an email startup backed by $7.3 million, envisions mobile email as more of an all-in-one productivity application. Today, that application is going live on the App Store for everyone to try for themselves.
Led by CEO Javier Soltero, previously a CTO at VMware and CEO and co-founder at Hyperic, and joined by former VMWare and Yahoo engineers J.J. Zhuang (CTO) and Kevin Henrikson (VP of Engineering), Acompli aims to solve some of the still significant pain points involved with using email on our smartphones today.
That is, typing on small screens is challenging, locating files and emails and contacts can be difficult, and switching between email and other productivity apps, like your calendar, is also hard.
For these reasons, a lot of email usage on mobile is limited to sending out short replies, while leaving the more complex tasks – like determining your availability for a meeting, or locating and attaching a file – for when you’ve returned to your desktop or laptop computer.
Acompli, however, offers a different option by combining email and calendaring in one app, while also making it easier to locate anything, including older messages, people or files.
To do so, its email app has been designed with a calendar button at the bottom, allowing you to look at your schedule at any time. And more importantly, it offers a calendar icon in the email “Compose” screen that, when tapped, opens up your calendar to display your availability. You can then tap a few times that work for you and those are dropped into the Acompli email message.
In addition, you can create meeting invites from the app by tapping on the time in the calendar, adding details like location and time, then sharing it with recipients who will see it as a calendar invite. And if you’re running late to a meeting, you can just tap the event and then the small arrow next to the organizer’s name to send a quick “I’m running late” note and your location.
Finding Files And More
The app also keeps track of all the files you’ve been sharing via email for easy attachment to new messages, instead of forcing you to dig back through your message history to find the thread with the file attached (and then, often, having to clear out the text in that message so the new recipient doesn’t see the prior communication.) This feature is activated easily – you just tap the standard paperclip icon, which of course, also allows you to attach photos from your Camera or photo gallery, too.
Acompli’s search feature is also powerful, with automatic suggestions that appear as you type, keyword highlighting, folder labels that show you where a message can be found, and a way to search for files – even filtering to show only “slides,” “images” or “docs” to help you narrow searches. The people search feature, meanwhile, is also a handy way to get caught up on your history with that contact, showing you prior emails, files shared, and meetings you attended together.
While much of the app’s differentiated feature set is focused on what you can do beyond email, its email interface is fairly robust too. One thing that I especially like are the filters that let you switch between unread mail, flagged mail, and those with files. In iOS’s default Mail app, you can tap into your folder list to view flagged mail, but that’s it.
While some of Acompli’s features are today found in a number of competing apps, including Gusto, CloudMagic, Tipbit and others, Acompli’s look-and-feel and feature set help it stand out. But the app is not perfect – the font is smaller than the iOS Mail app, with things like the sender and subject line shaded differently, which can make things a bit harder to read. It’s always jarring to try to switch to a new email app, so things that don’t necessarily have to change perhaps should not be touched.
But overall, Acompli is far more usable as an actual email application than those email apps built mainly for triage, including Mailbox.
Acompli is available for download here on iTunes.