2018 has been a significant year for Gmail so far. In addition to a long-awaited design overhaul, Google has been consistently rolling out a flurry of new features to its emailing platform over the last few months. Features for which you’d normally had to shell out for a third-party client. In fact, a handful of Gmail’s new abilities such as auto-complete for emails, Confidential Mode are not even available on other services.
Moreover, a recent report published by the Wall Street Journal highlighted how it is possible for app developers who have access to your Gmail inbox to read your messages. While Google did later clarify that these devs were personally vetted before they’re allowed to add the Gmail permission, it’s still quite worrying to know that a company has the option to go through your personal emails for algorithm training, diagnosing bugs, or any other purpose.
So what now? Does it make sense anymore to invest in a third-party email client considering Google has officially brought most of their features and the looming security concerns?
The answer to that question will vary depending on your needs and preferences. Let me tell you why I personally use a third-party email client called Newton Mail.
The most important factor for me is the minimalistic design. If you go through Gmail’s homepage, you’ll find an unnecessary deluge of buttons, sidebars, and information waiting to be consumed surrounding your inbox. The folders list, the Hangouts column, several other links at the bottom, and more. Even with a zero inbox, Gmail just doesn’t seem as tidy and rewarding as I’d like it to be.
Plus, Gmail’s compose window has largely remained unchanged for the last couple of years and when you compare it to Newton’s, it’s easy to make out why I prefer the latter’s aesthetic. It’s clean, distraction-free, and lets you switch between multiple accounts through a nifty drop-down menu.
In addition, there are a few more features Gmail still misses out on. One of them is a desktop app. While being an early Chromebook adopter I don’t necessarily mind employing web apps, native clients are usually better integrated for things like notifications, offline access, and more. Moreover, I’m also not that keen on having a web app constantly active in a Chrome window because you know, limited memory.
Newton Mail also comes with a handful of other handy features I’ve grown used to. This includes inbuilt delivery receipts, the ability to schedule emails for later, and something called “Tidy Inbox” which essentially averts spam from landing in your inbox.
On the question of data privacy, we asked Newton whether their employees read personal emails and here’s what they had to say — “All the information we collect from a user (who provide us directly) is only used to give the best possible experience using Newton. No human at Newton ever reads any user emails.”
Newton Mail has been quite quick with keeping up with Gmail too. Just recently, the company rolled out the “Recap” feature which reminds you to follow up and highlight the emails which might be important to you. Although the dearth of enough data means it will be difficult for Newton Mail to replicate features such as Smart Compose and Smart Replies. Another tool which is exclusive to Gmail right now is the Confidential Mode that allows you to send self-destructing messages.
At $9.99 per month, therefore, Newton Mail is certainly not for everyone. However, your options as far as third-party email clients are concerned are quite limited too especially if you have an Android phone or a Windows computer. I feel, there are two reasons anyone may want to decamp from Gmail to an app like Newton Mail — you want a more modern design or desktop apps. Otherwise, you can achieve most of what Gmail lacks right now through extensions browsers, at least. Hopefully, Newton Mail might introduce better, more affordable, perhaps yearly plans in the coming months.