When Apple releases a major software update, as they do yearly, new functionality often extends to the stock applications. The core applications that ship with each and every iOS device play a key role in how we use our iPhones and iPads, so changes to these apps is big news. Last year brought significant changes, due to the transition to iOS 7 that demanded cosmetic changes in keeping with the new design aesthetic. To be fair, some apps lost functionality, which hindered folks hoping for a happy transition to iOS 7. With iOS 7 now in the rear view mirror, Apple seems poised to tackle stock apps, improving up their functionality. Messages will see new features that rival Snapchat and WhatsApp. Also on the agenda for iOS 8 will be significant improvements to the Mail app and how you’ll manage your inbox.
Interactive Notifications Allow For More Robust Inbox Management
Do you get too much email? Being inundated with email is a common problem. Third-party applications like Mailbox have tried to make it easier to reach the vaulted inbox zero, but much of what they do effectively is ‘archiving’. That’s akin to cleaning a room by throwing everything into the closet. The room is clean, but at some point, you’re going to have to tackle the closet. Deleting messages is a more effective way to trim down your inbox, letting you focus on what’s important. Sure you could do this within the Mail app, but email doesn’t stop and it’s easy to get behind.
One of the better, if not best feature in iOS 8 is the addition of interactive notifications. The Mail app stands to benefit greatly. As you receive notification alerts regarding new email messages, there’s no pressure to jump into your inbox. See here’s where Mail and interactive notifications rocks. You don’t have to go diving into your inbox to start deleting messages. The Mail app notification will provide an option to ‘Trash’. In many ways, notifications are the new inbox and that’s fantastic. If this were the only addition to mail, there would still be partying in the streets, at least in front of my home.
New Swipe Options Makes Inbox Management Easier, Faster
In iOS 7, swiping left on message would bring up two options. Depending upon your email service, one would be either ‘Trash’ or ‘Archive’. You would still have to tap on that option for it to happen. If you complete your right to left swipe, it automatically performs the function, allowing for single swipe trashing or archiving of messages. There are other minor changes. The archive option is now denoted by a blue color, different from red for trash. The visual cues make it easy when you are managing emails in a unified inbox.
The other, ‘More’, brings up a contextual menu of options that allow you to ‘Reply, Forward, Flag, Mark as Read, Move to Junk or Move Message. iOS 8 adds a new ‘Notify Me..’ option. Selecting this option will generate a notification when anyone replies to this email thread. You can see how in a business setting, getting notified of an important email is vital and this feature makes it possible.
There is also a new option to swipe from left to right. That now offers the capability of marking a message as ‘unread’.
Add Contacts, Calendar Events Within Email
Mail in iOS 8 succeeds in letting you accomplish more within your inbox. Using the sample provided by Apple, you’ll note the addition of contact information in the header of a message. You can tap on this to Add to Contacts, a useful option, that while still easy in iOS 7, is more visible in iOS 8. It’s also two less taps to get the same thing done.
iOS 8 will also recognize dinner reservations, flight confirmations and phone numbers. A single tap will add to your calendar.
Composing Messages, While Accessing Your Inbox
You would like to create a message, but you need to copy text from another email. That sort of multitasking wasn’t possible in previous versions of iOS. That changes in iOS 8, with a nifty 3D-like view of the compose message window. As you’re typing your message, you can slide down from the top of the message to dock it at the bottom of the display, allowing you to rifle through your inbox and copy the important text. When you’re ready to resume composing, just tap on the message bar at the bottom. The compose message window will spring back into action. Paste your content and boom, you’re read to send. True multitasking!
By themselves none of the tweaks to the Mail app are major. When you look at the changes on a whole, it should make managing your inbox easier, faster and smarter. The Mail app instantly becomes more competitive with some of the better third-party email apps for iPhone and iPad. We’ve gotten a preview of how interactive notifications will work in Mail, which may be the killer feature. Thanks to Apple allowing third-party developers access to these same tools, you can expect email apps to expose new and exciting ways to process mail.
iOS 8 is beta software. It is scheduled for public release in the fall. To discuss the upcoming release, check out our iOS 8 forums.