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iOS 8 changes we'd like to see: Mail

Dan Frakes | May 16, 2014
With iOS 8 likely coming later this year, it's time to talk about the changes and improvements we'd like to see in the next version of iOS.

With each version of iOS, Mail gets better. For example, iOS 7 Mail added new special-mailbox views, a revamped search system, additional Undo actions, and more. But the more we use mobile Mail--and we use it a lot--the more we notice its shortcomings, major or minor.

Now that WWDC and a likely iOS 8 announcement are just around the corner, we're compiling lists (with the help of our Twitter followers) of our biggest frustrations with, and feature requests for, iOS. In this installment, we tackle Mail.

Attach anything
When we surveyed Twitter for iOS Mail wishes, the top vote getter merely confirmed one of our own biggest mobile-Mail desires: more-capable attachment handling.

We don't mean how Mail deals with attachments you receive. We're talking about how you get attachments into outgoing messages. iOS 6 added a feature for more-easily adding images stored in the Photos app, but if you're looking to send some other type of data, or even images from another app, your options are limited. Specially, you have to hope that the app hosting that data or document offers its own feature for sending via email. And even then, this approach works only for new messages--what if you want to send a document in a reply? Tough luck.

Unfortunately, this isn't just a Mail issue. iOS as a whole offers only limited support for working with data and documents between apps, and it offers no shared storage for, for example, documents you might need to work with in more than one app. We don't expect Apple to embrace a fully exposed, desktop-style filesystem on iOS, but it needs much better features for attaching files to email messages, wherever those files may reside.

And while we're talking about attachments, another useful feature would be a way to delete attachments so they don't take up space on your device. Even better, if a message is stored on the server, Mail should let you delete the local copy of the attachment without removing it from the original message on the server. Similarly, once a message with a large attachment is successfully sent, Mail should remove the attached file from the local copy of the message, so you don't have an extra copy in your Sent folder.

Smart mailboxes and rules
The second-most popular response we received was also one of our own desires: bringing smart mailboxes and rules to iOS.

Smart mailboxes are one of our favorite features of OS X Mail. Essentially saved message searches, smart mailboxes let you quickly see, for example, all the flagged messages in your work folder, or all the unread messages from family members. iOS 7 introduced several smart mailbox-like views--all unread, all sent, inbox messages with attachments--but we'd like to be able to create our own smart mailboxes with whatever criteria we want. Even better, we'd like to be able to sync particular smart mailboxes with OS X Mail.


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