iOS 4 Unified Inbox and Threaded Email – Nice! [iOS 4 Tour Pt. 4]
If you’re like me and use your iDevice all day for many tasks like email, then you’re probably sick and tired of traversing up and down the email tree. Under any previous iOS version (iPhone OS 3.1.3, for example) if you were reading an email and wanted to read email from another account it was: tap to inbox, tap to account, tap to all accounts, then tap again on account, tap again to inbox and tap again to the email. That’s a lot of tapping, or at least it was.
In iOS 4 we now have two ease-of-use enhancements to the email app, and they are welcome enhancements indeed! The first of these is the unified inbox. Simply put, this inbox is all of your inboxes in one, regardless of how many accounts you have (and I have several). Emails are ordered by their timestamp of when they were received so seeing all of your email at once is what this is all about. Need to read/reply on a different account? no problem as it’s just at most two taps away. The only downside here is that I wish they were somehow labeled as to which account they belong to in the unified view. Right now, you get the standard from, subject line and a few words from the body. If you know your people that email you then this probably isn’t a problem for you, however if you receive a lot of email then this may be an issue (albeit minor).
The only downside that I see with the new email app on the iPhone is that they have moved folder access (trash, spam, tags, folders, etc) to a new section for which you do need to traverse to. On the main email accounts list you would scroll to the bottom of that page to get the “accounts” section. Traversing these trees works similarly to how email used to work and is the only way to get to other email folders that you may have setup.
Lastly (for email), we have threaded email conversations in the mail app (a la gmail). This new view into your email significantly enhances your ability to keep track of email conversations and to review your email history on a particular subject. Again, not earth shattering but a nice added feature nonetheless.