Mailtracker is an app that lets you snoop on the folks you send email to. It tells you if and when your mails were read, what device they read it on and what city they are in. Sounds pretty creepy right?
Here’s how it works. I copied this from the PR pitch email:
MailTracker works by inserting a small snippet of code into the header of any email you send. That code lets us know when someone has read your mail, what device they’ve read it on, how long they’ve read it, and what city they are in. Not all clients will send back all pieces of information, but at the minimum the sender will always know when their email is read.
And here’s the corresponding entry from the FAQ on the site, which is quite a bit less forthcoming:
MailTracker is a notification app for your iPhone that alerts you when someone opens and engages with your email.
Anytime you send an email through your iPhone Mail App, we’ll notify you through MailTracker. You do not need to change your email behavior! :)
The idea is indeed clever, and somehow the app manages to insert its code into your outgoing mails even though you are still sending them using the native iOS Mail app (it won’t work if you use other clients to send). It works with Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo Mail and Outlook.com accounts, and as of version1.1 you can also use it with IMAP accounts, and on the receiving end it’ll work with any mail account foolish enough to allow HTML email.
I guess that once the mail is opened, the code phones home, giving up the IP address of the recipient (and from there their geographical location). Along with their device details and of course the time. You get notifications via the MailTracker app.
Like any tech, it’s neutral, but I really don’t like the idea of someone using this to track me. In fact, I’m grabbing the app now so I can see what it adds to the header, and setting my email filters to block anything that uses it.
The app is free, and requires a $5-per-month subscription for the pro version.