When did Apple’s built-in apps get so good?

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Look at this blank home screen. Just look at it.
Who needs third-party apps anyway?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

It used to be that the first-party iOS apps were only used by people who didn’t care enough to download something better. Mail, Notes, Contacts, the Calendar — all of these were immediately dumped into a junk folder by experienced users, to be replaced with a proper app. But something happened along the way to 2018. Now, Apple’s apps are every bit as good as third-party apps. (Well, mostly. The Contacts app is still awful.)

Today we’ll take a look at a few of Apple’s surprise hits.

How to customize Mail swipe gestures on iPhone

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A mail box
Mail used to be such a pain to use.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Mail app has gotten pretty good. And one of its best features is mail swipe gestures: being able to swipe an email in your message list and quickly delete, archive, move, or flag that message, and lots more besides.

With gestures, you can speed through your inbox, deleting the cruft, archiving boss mails, and filing messages, all with single swipes. It makes dealing with mail easy, if not actually fun.

The default swipes gestures are fine, but you can customize them to do exactly what you want. Let’s see how.

iOS Mail filters quickly tame overflowing mailboxes

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mailbox filters
A mailbox, aka a postbox, or even 'pillar box."
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iOS Mail app gets overlooked by power users, but it’s still the default for most people, unless they’re using Gmail in the browser. And that’s not a bad thing, because Apple’s Mail app has gotten pretty great in recent years, from smart mailboxes, to swipe gestures, to iOS 11’s drag-and-drop. Today we’re going to take a look at a feature so hidden you may never have seen it before. It’s a filter than can be applied to any folder, letting you see just mail with attachments, mail addressed directly to you, VIP mails, and more.

Apple teams up with Microsoft to fix iOS 11 Mail issues

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Mail app inbox
You might have problems with Exchange and Outlook accounts.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has confirmed that it is working closely with Microsoft to resolve an issue with Mail syncing in iOS 11.

Some users have discovered that they are unable to send emails using their Exchange or Outlook accounts since updating their devices. Apple promises a fix will be available in a future iOS 11 release.

Apple Mail manager leaves to work on third-party email app

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Former Apple Mail engineer Terry Blanchard.
Former Apple Mail engineer Terry Blanchard.
Photo: Readdle

One of the most important engineers behind Apple’s own Mail app has decided to leave the company and lend his skills to another email app creator.

Readdle, makers of the popular Spark email app for iOS, has hired away former Apple Mail engineering manager Terry Blanchard to work on ‘the future of email’ after he helped Apple develop its email app for the past six years.

This plug-in turns Apple Mail into a powerful productivity platform

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MailButler turns Apple Mail into a bona fide productivity platform.
MailButler turns Apple Mail into a bona fide productivity platform.
Image: Feingeist Software

AOL’s new Alto Dashboard makes your email easier to manage

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Alto-Dashboard-iOS
Alto Dashboard in action on iOS.
Photo: AOL

Don’t you just hate getting bombarded with emails? Our inboxes can be filled with junk every day, and half the time, you might not know what’s spam and what’s worth reading. Now there’s a new tool from AOL called Alto Dashboard that can help.

Alto Dashboard, which is integrated into the do-it-all Alto mail client, intelligently scans, analyzes, and restructures your emails to present you with the most valuable content right away. It then makes that content actionable so you can deal with email faster.