Evomail for iPad: An evolved e-mail client?

Though more gesture-friendly and social network-savvy than Google's own Gmail app, Evomail needs some bugs fixed and features added.

Evomail for iPad is supposed to show senders' avatars in your inbox -- but mostly doesn't.
Evomail for iPad is supposed to show senders' avatars in your in-box -- but mostly doesn't. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

The race is on to build a better e-mail client for iOS, with apps like Incredimail and Mailbox all vying to deliver a better experience than Apple's own Mail.

The latest entrant: Evomail, which promises a better Gmail experience than Google's own Gmail app. But does it deliver?

Yes and no. Evomail closely resembles the latest Gmail app , which is to say it's attractive and smartly designed, with a simple expanding-panel layout that's admirably easy to navigate.

Evomail brings a couple of neat tricks to the table, including color-coded labels, a gesture-based reply option (just swipe the current e-mail to the left to immediately open a reply), and one-tap access to label, archive, and delete functions. You can also share messages via Facebook and Twitter, a handy option for those times when someone sends you a funny joke or useful link.

Beyond that stuff, however, I'm not sure I see many advantages. Indeed, I encountered a few issues while testing Evomail (the latest version, 1.01), not the least of which was slow, inconsistent search. When I ran a search for "iPad" in Evomail, I got just a handful of matches -- and they were slow in coming. The same search in the Gmail app produced a lot more hits, same as when I searched Gmail proper (on the Web) for that same account.

Evomail's in-box displays senders' avatars inline, or at least it's supposed to; I mostly saw empty circles. The Gmail app shows the sender's avatar only when you tap the message, but it actually shows them.

I also found a couple areas of Evomail unnecessarily unintuitive, like the need to tap an e-mail's time stamp to mark it unread, and the three-dot icon used to access the "share" options. Confusingly, the latter appears only when you scroll to the bottom of a message, whereas the label/archive/delete icons remain visible at all times.

Perhaps my biggest disappointment is that Evomail lacks a unified in-box, a feature I've been wanting in the Gmail app. If I'm going to pay $2.99 for a mail client, it should offer that at the very least.

For the moment, Evomail works only with Gmail, and only on iPads. The developers plan to support more devices, platforms, and mail services down the road.

However, without a few more standout features, I can't see much value in choosing Evomail over Gmail. The latter may require a few extra taps for things like assigning labels, but it's still a perfectly serviceable mail client for Gmail users -- and it's free.

Your thoughts? What's your favorite tool for accessing Gmail on your iPad?

 

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