It’s official: Google’s Inbox is dead. Fans of Google’s productivity-oriented email app were so upset to hear of its imminent passing that they circulated a petition to keep it alive, obtaining just under 10,000 signatures. But Google still pulled the plug on Inbox this month.
But don’t worry. If you’re among Inbox’s devoted following and still looking for a smart mailbox for Android and iPhone, you have two great alternatives: Spike, from Israeli startup Hopflow; and Spark, from Ukranian developer Readdle.
Here’s a closer look at each app, and our take on which one you should use.
Spike allows you to display your inbox in three different ways: Inbox Mode, People Mode, and Subject Mode. Inbox Mode shows you your inbox and emails in the traditional way the Gmail app does, while People Mode and Subject Mode display them like text message conversations.
Press a handy button at the top of the screen, and all but your unread emails will disappear. Switching between modes isn’t so easy; you have dig into Settings.
SpikeNewsletters, promotional messages, and other mail Spike deems low-priority are sorted into an “Other” tab at the top of your inbox. Spike is more aggressive about this than your typical spam filter: Google Group messages and emails from my doctor tended to end up there.
By default, swiping left on an email gives you the option to trash it, archive it, or pull up a menu with more options (snooze, pin, move, mute, block). You can customize what the swipe does in Settings. Swiping right brings you to a menu where you can access your folders, connected cloud services, or settings, or add another account.
As for Spark, it also has two modes: Inbox and Smart Inbox. In contrast to Spike, you can easily swap between Inbox and Smart Inbox with a toggle at the top of the screen. That said, you’ll probably rarely want to use Inbox, as it doesn’t sort newsletters and promotional emails.
Spark’s Smart Inbox organizes your emails in a more useful way: Personal at the top followed by Notifications, Newsletters, and messages you’ve read at the bottom. That means every time you read a message, it disappears from the top of your inbox and appears at the bottom.
I like Spark’s approach a lot more than Spike’s. It greatly streamlined my email-checking process, as I didn’t have delete read messages to get them out of my way.
By default, a short swipe left in Spark pins an email while a short swipe right marks it read (this can also be customized). A long swipe in either direction archives your message. Swiping left on the entire screen (which was much easier to differentiate from an email swipe than I thought it would be) brings up your folders and. Unlike Spike, Spark lets you customize the list of folders that comes up.
Spike syncs with your calendar, as well as your Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox account to quickly send files. You can also make voice or video calls to your contacts — Spike displays your most frequent ones at the top of the list.
SpikeWhen sending emails, it’s very easy to attach a photo, GIF, file, recording, location, Doodle or send a customizable quick reply. There’s also a handy Encrypted Messaging mode for sensitive content.
SpikeThat’s a solid list of features, but Spark has more that are pragmatic. Most importantly, it allows you to schedule emails to go out at certain times, and to schedule an alert if you haven’t received a reply after a certain amount of time. You can also create templates if you frequently send similar emails, as well as quick replies and signatures.
SparkSpark also offers myriad more connected services. In addition to Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox, you can sync with Box, Pocket, Files, Evernote, OneNote, Instapaper, Reminders, Todoist, Trello, Zoom, and many others.
Both Spike and Spark work with pretty much every service you might be using. Spark supports Gmail, iCloud, Exchange, Outlook, Keiro Connect and IMAP email accounts, while Spike supports Gmail, iCloud, Exchange, Outlook, IMAP and Yahoo.
Overall Winner: Spark
|Design (40 points)||25||28|
|Features (40 points)||26||28|
|Account Support (20 points)||20||20|
|Overall (100 points)||71||76|
Spike’s People Mode offers a unique approach to email display, and it’s fun to treat emails like text-message conversations, especially for millennials like me. I also appreciate how easy it is to toggle between encrypted and unencrypted messaging.
But Spark is more useful and easier to use than Spike. More swipe controls, a quicker toggle between modes and a smarter sorting system make Spark more efficient, especially if you only have a few seconds to swipe through your messages. Additionally, with scheduling, templates and many more connected services, Spark is preferable for work emails.
Spark is our top pick — but if you prefer Spike’s unique design, it’s still a great option.