Compail: The Gmail Experience for the Rest of Us

As with any mobile OS, there are a lot of ingredients that go into Android’s mix, and though many of us share likes and dislikes, each of us has a set of favourite features. In my case, Android’s tight integration with the Google Apps services I use on a daily basis makes life a great deal easier, and it was one of the primary reasons I chose to switch to a phone powered by the little green robot.

One key example of this is Gmail. The official app Google provides on Android is brilliantly designed, providing the instantaneousness of IMAP, with the intuitive operation of swipe-to-archive. However, as a (predominantly) Gmail user myself, it had never occurred to me that this glorious messaging experience is not extended to those Android users who rely on email providers other than Google. That seems a real shame.

A new emailing app, Compail, looks like it wants to provide an intuitive, Gmail-like experience to the rest of the email universe. Can it deliver the same slick environment as Google’s custom-built email flagship, though?

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Opening Up

Well, it looks a lot like Gmail. No, I mean a lot. Owners of iOS devices will also notice the design influences of Mailbox, too. The resulting visual mash-up is classy, flat, and highly functional.

Setting up an account is a pretty slick experience, requiring only the selection of your email provider along with the input of your login details. Compail then automatically works out the required server addresses and port numbers.

History = Inbox.

History = Inbox.

Having set up your first email account — an in-app upgrade of $1.36 is required to add further accounts — you’re first presented with a list of folders. By default, just the History folder is included in this menu, and it acts, in essence, as your inbox. You can, however, add smart folders here, which abide by rules based on sender and subject, and each of these folders can be given a priority ranking, along with a custom icon.

Smart inboxes are really quite clever, and easy to set up.

Smart inboxes are really quite clever, and easy to set up.

Looking Inside

Enter a folder, and you’re presented with a list of your emails. Once again, it all feels very familiar to a Gmailer. Emails come complete with their subject and sub-header, their time of arrival, and a tappable star on the right-hand side, which can be used to denote an incoming missive of importance. As is the current fashion (of which I approve) among email apps, messages can be sorted with a sideways swipe, although enabling this requires a trip to the app’s settings.

Looks a bit Gmail-ish, doesn't it?

Looks a bit Gmail-ish, doesn’t it?

Messages

The Gmail mimicry continues once you move into viewing individual messages. Compail provides more of an imitation than a clone in this area, although in most respects, it functions perfectly well.

The sender and subject are followed by the option to load any images the email contains, with the message contents below. A constant menu bar at the bottom of the screen provides access to the reply, trash and star controls, as well as next and previous arrows for an easy way to flick through your messages.

Employ a bit of pinch-zoom, and emails will appear at the right size. Without your intervention, the experience is mixed.

Employ a bit of pinch-zoom, and emails will appear at the right size. Without your intervention, the experience is mixed.

A minor irritation here is that emails aren’t always scaled correctly, often initially appearing at half the width of the screen. You can, of course, pinch to zoom in, which has the effect of manually correcting this issue, but after a while, this does become tedious.

Composing

Just as important as the reception of emails is the sending of them, and Compail’s message composition environment is a simple, but well-equipped one.

The composition area is simple, but it does include file attachments.

The composition area is simple, but it does include file attachments.

Although most of the options are nothing out of the ordinary, the opportunity to attach files of any variety is included, as is the addition of a custom signature for each account.

Options

Interestingly, one of the areas in which Compail is most successful is its settings, which are comprehensive.

Several message listing options are available, allowing unread or starred emails to appear first, and there’s a choice of three different colour schemes. As mentioned above, there is also the opportunity to enable swipe-sorting. Interestingly, you can also choose the action you want Compail to perform when you swipe an email, and you can assign left and right swipes for different actions.

Interestingly, Compail's strongest suit is its settings.

Interestingly, Compail’s strongest suit is its settings.

Equally, each account can be assigned a unique form of alert — that is, the combination of vibration, sound, and the notification light — and you can adjust the maximum size of email to be downloaded, how long messages should be stored, and how often you’d like Compail to check your account.

Conclusion

Given the quality of Gmail’s home on Android, it isn’t surprising that a developer has chosen to mimic Google’s product, and Compail‘s developer, Steyla, has done a good job. Of course, it isn’t an approach that can be described as particularly innovative, but given that folks who use email providers other than Google are missing out on the Gmail app’s great features, I think it is an approach that makes sense.

The negatives in Compail can really only be described as niggles. The mis-sizing of emails, for instance, should be easily fixable from the developer’s perspective, but it is currently a waste of the user’s time. Another issue is the requirement to pay in order to use multiple accounts, although the fee is small.

Overall, however, Compail is an extremely solid package that should prove to be a revelation in email for those who have, up until now, been without the Gmail-style ease of email organization.


Summary

An unspectacular, but highly competent recreation of the Gmail experience for the owner of nearly every other email address.

  • Compail 2.0.4.2  | 
  • Free (in-app upgrade for multiple accounts)  | 
  • Steyla
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  • Dave B

    My first email was fairly decent Yahoo. I certainly look for different things than the techies who are constantly updating and hacking and breaking and rooting and ziptarphwapping your phones. There has never been even one single track characteristic of Gmail, compared to the much friendlier and technically proficient Yahoo. This author’s opinion is the exact opposite what experience in the two and a half years of using Android phones or the 3 or 4 years Google or Gmail on computers. Of course, loyalty goes to where you get paid

    • Nathan Snelgrove

      As an author on this website (and many other AppStorm sites), I can assure you Google doesn’t give us any money. And although I am an author here, I’m also free to admit that I’m not Google’s biggest fan and I’m migrating most of my email needs to Fastmail in the next couple months. Yahoo is a nice service. Most people think, though, that Google builds excellent services. And they do. Because many of the writers here agree with the popularly-held opinion that Google’s products are consistently above average doesn’t mean they pay us or any other tech site money.

      As far as singing the praises of the Gmail app specifically, it really is one of the finest experience Android can offer in terms of UI and UX. What don’t you like about it? I don’t think it’s perfect and I prefer iOS email experiences but I certainly don’t think it’s bad.

    • Mark Myerson

      Let me assure Dave – Google doesn’t even know who I am, let alone want to pay me. I’m just a very satisfied Gmail user (I switched from Yahoo, by the way).

  • http://www.cechas.com/ Alius Levinskas

    I tested about 10 email apps for my corporate emails, but my personal favorite left K-@ MAIL , because it is fast and clean. And for me as for graphic desiger app design is 50% importance 😉

    Compail was the second, very useful filters option, but the slow speed killed me..

    Developers are giving there best and in future we will see something more and more useful.

    • http://www.symbian-guru.com khouryrt

      I haven’t tried any of these email clients, but K-@ MAIL sure looks good.