Mail Call: Simplify Your Web Mail

Say what you want about the heralded eventual doom of email, I don’t think it’s going anywhere fast. And since it seems to be hanging around, developers are trying to rejuvenate it: adding to its features, bending and tweaking and overall making it a more enjoyable, convenient experience.

Mail Call contributes to this vein by putting the mail right in the menubar. But how easy is it? Let’s find out.

Coveted Real Estate

In the last few years, it seems that every app I download for my Mac has a menubar component. For some apps, it makes completely logical sense as they may serve their basic functionality from that part of the screen area or the app’s main goal is always-at-your-fingertips convenience. Either way, my menubar is flush with icons and Mail Call adds to that. Luckily, though, it deserves its place.

Can you spot Mail Call's icon?

Can you spot Mail Call’s icon?

You’ve Got Mail

Apple’s default Mail app seems nice enough, but I could never be troubled to set it up. I’ve been on GMail as long as I can remember, but using a web-based email client has its ups and downs. On the upside, it’s available everywhere there is Internet, but on the downside you have to open a browser to access it.

You can preview a message in the list, or double-click it to open up a message pane.

You can preview a message in the list, or double-click it to open up a message pane.

I’ve tried to get used to having a dedicated mail application, but eventually I found myself just leaving GMail open in a tab of Google Chrome, thereby negating the point of having a dedicated app running. There are no notifications when a new message arrives when you go this route, though. I’ve been getting by on GMail Notifr, a free menubar app that uses Growl notifications to alert users to a new message, but aside from alerting, it really just serves as a link to open the message in the browser.

Difference Maker

Mail Call is the next evolution of the menubar alert: you can read, reply, forward and sort your mail without your browser and without a dedicated app. Mail Call glows to life (you pick the color!) when you have a new message. When you click the icon, a menu opens displaying any unread messages. You can double-click the a message to have it open in a separate pane with more options like flagging or printing. The choice to reply or compose a message is available from the drop-down as well, if you want to save a click.

If you don't want your unread email to have you seeing red, you can choose a different icon color for the menu bar.

If you don’t want your unread email to have you seeing red, you can choose a different icon color for the menu bar.

Using Mail Call is unobtrusive. The message panes where mail is opened are petite, even on my tiny-by-comparison 11.6″ screen. While some apps may have more features, Mail Call is designed to provide the basics, but does so well, letting you quickly dismiss or reply to emails while barely losing concentration. And it serves the dual feature of motivating you to keep your inbox clean so as to avoid the menubar glow of pending unread emails.

The message view has most basic mail features: reply, forward, flag, print, and attach.

The message view has most basic mail features: reply, forward, flag, print, and attach.

Do you have multiple email accounts? Mail Call will merge the unread messages into a unified list, thereby removing the extra steps of switching accounts just to respond to a particular message.

You can set your mail to be checked from every minute to every 2 hours. The unified inbox merges unread email from multiple accounts into one drop-down preview area.

You can set your mail to be checked from every minute to every 2 hours. The unified inbox merges unread email from multiple accounts into one drop-down preview area.

What’s it Worth?

Mail Call is a $9.99 app in the App Store. That’s on par with some other mail apps like Sparrow and Postbox, but those apps have fancy features like Dropbox integration, calendar additions, and Facebook contacts. Mail Call brings a pure and simple convenience, but the price is still daunting. I would wholeheartedly recommend it in the $2.99 – $4.99 range, but $9.99 is a bit tough to swallow. If you are looking for a menubar mail wonder, though, Mail Call is good and has a lot of potential to grow into something amazing.


Summary

Mail Call brings the basic functionality of email to your menubar, albeit at a price.

8
  • Albert Kinng

    I really don’t understand this review. This is the real Notify app alternative you were looking for in your past review and never mentioned it. Your ratings for Notify app were higher and now that you found out about Mail Call you give it an 8 and don’t mention even once Notify app to let people remember where this app is coming from. How come you don’t like this app now but was an advocate of Notify? I smell fishy.

    This is my email client now. This is what I was looking for and I know this app will get better and better. Use it for a week first and then write a decent review about it.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      First, the author of this post isn’t the same person that reviewed Notify, and different people’s needs are different. Then, we’d noticed the just recently (it’s rather new, after all), and wanted to get a review out about it. The price is a tad steep for what it is, which took some points off, but otherwise we liked the app. Also, it’s a different app from the old Notify app.

      • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

        I have both installed right now. They are basically the same. I really can’t tell the difference in functionality and purpose but for some reason Notify is more complete in design and functionality. Mail Call is based obviously entirely on Notify and I hope gets better and better. I just wanted to let you know they aren’t different. Your comment make me go to my external drive and search for Notify and re-install it on my old Mac just to be sure if they are different or not. They are not.

    • http://palobo.tumblr.com Pedro Lobo

      Speaking strictly for myself (though I’m sure many of my fellow writers share this view), rating apps is no easy task!

      I always strive to be as unbiased as possible when reviewing and rating an app, though much like matters of design and UI, ratings are very subjective. What I may find useless or a hindrance, may be just the thing another user was looking for. Obviously we would rate that feature differently.

      Then there are times when I clearly see and app is going to get better and better, and would love nothing more to give it a rating based on what it could be, this would in reality be a disservice to the readers. I try and rate it based on what it is now! Weigh in the apps price, value, UI and so many other factors.

      What I’m trying to say is that all I can do as a writer/reviewer is strive to be consistent and fair. Hopefully you as a reader will somehow identify with what I have to say about the app and over time come to trust that when I say it’s good it’s because that is what I truly believe and am sure you won’t be “cheated” out of your money but rather have a positive experience with the app.

      • Robert Jakobson

        good review guys, don’t sweat it too much. the score was surprisingly high..

        does it have signatures?

        • http://www.albertkinng.com Albert Kinng

          Yes they do need to sweat it. I bet if you were a developer and want to showcase your app you will be pissed if they don’t review it as you know they should. People believe on reviews (even if I disagree with that completely) and the info that sprouts need to be accurate or fair otherwise your app wont rise to the top. BTW I don’t work for these guys I am just a user.

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