Microsoft delivers the best Android email experience to date

In your Face Gmail, Outlook for Android is awesome

Historically Android has shipped a native email app which the various manufacturers have tweaked or not. On many occasions the app has rendered responsive but it has not been consistent across devices.

This is has not been the most popular email app on Android though, the Gmail app tends to be used by more people. This does not render responsive emails and instead tends to simply zoom out the desktop version to fit it into the screen width, unless some very clever coding is used.

Gmail recently released their ‘Inbox’ app which is a new email app with a focus on consumers who receive far more emails than they send. It is a very different experience from the Gmail app and now the novelty has run out from its original invitation only release, its popularity is fading.

This app has the same rendering engine as the Gmail app, so is also not responsive.

Google has since announced that future Android versions will not carry a native app and everyone will get the Gmail app, which will allow any email supplier to be used rather than just Gmail.

Microsoft have pipped Google to the prize of responsiveness on Android and may well be the “most progressive inbox provider” of the moment.

The Gmail app might be the most popular choice but it is by no means ‘loved’. The lack of responsive rendering, coupled with the auto tabbing and the fact that the menu is top left but the compose email button is bottom right, means some people have to swap hand to compose an email on large phones.

Whilst Gmail has confirmed that responsive rendering is ‘high on the list’ for the email products we have only seen automatically enlarged text in Gmail for the iPhone … check out the Email Design Podcast for more info.

Consequently it seemed that Android would be robbed of all responsive email potential.. until now.

After Microsoft acquired Acompli in December last year they joined the ranks of buying email apps rather than making it themselves.

The new Outlook app has been released only a few months later. We could easily speculate that work on this started before the acquisition.

On the Android, this app ticks all of the boxes.

  • There are only two tabs: ‘focused’ and ‘other’
    where focussed looks for conversations and emails from people and the other tab is more marketing and notifications etc.
    This is nice and simple.
  • More importantly and a big winner is the easy filter to show only unread emails.
    This is very handy seeing as many people use their inbox as a todo list and emails requiring actions are the unread ones.
  • You can schedule sending emails.
  • You can swipe emails.
    There is only two swipes – left or right, compared to Mailbox which two options either way. However, I only need ‘mark as read’ and ‘schedule’ because I live in the unread filter.
  • The other big winner is that it will render responsive emails.
    So now users of Android phones are no longer forced to use two hands to pinch zoom and scroll around a desktop email on a small screen.

For a full list of capabilities Alex at DisplayBlock has gone “under the hood

The app feels more focussed on business users, as expected, has the usual built in calendar and has some clever integrations with online storage providers too to help with sharing files.

Apple’s native email app on mobile devices is very popular due to that fact it renders everything like a browser, which separates it from almost all other inboxes in the desktop browser, desktop app or mobile devices. So Outlook with have a harder sale to convert people how are already set-up. However, with it’s integrated calendar and obvious interface, people are used to Outlook at work and those which do try it may well stick with it.

ISPs reveal deliverability tips for their own inboxes

Deliverability Facts from the horses mouth

This year’s Email Evolution conference from the EEC had a very popular and enlightening last talk; representatives from Gmail,, Aol and Comcast revealed some great details about how their platforms handle reputation and inbox placement.

Spam Traps

I have mentioned before about Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL recycling dead addresses into traps, I didn’t invent the idea it was from research and close sources. have now denied it and AOL said it had happened but not if it still was. also stated that an account would be shut-down after 2 years of inactivity, not the 7-14 months we had previously been led to believe.

Gmail confirmed that there was no recycling but they have not been around for long compared to the rest so have no need for it … yet.


  • Opens – Good, obvious engagement
  • Clicks – no-one tracks clicks, it’s a breach in privacy.
  • Replies – Good, signifies a conversation
  • Mark as Spam – Bad, of course
  • Mark as Not Spam – Good, big noise that the ISP has got it wrong
  • Delete without Opening – Bad, signals no interest but with less offense than a mark as spam
  • Move to a folder – Good, signals value in the email’s content
  • Add to address book – Good, signals value in the sender.

The only new one on me here was adding to a folder but it makes sense, it’s a keeper.

No mention of stars (or pins) though, I’d expected that to be good one. Unless it’s such a short term thing it carries little weight whereas folders (labels) are more permanent.

Inactives said that inactive subscribers do not affect/increase reputation based junking but in an individual’s inbox it may. Subsequently they do not support the notion that kulling the list of inactives will help reputation but added that the people who rarely open your emails are more likely are to take negative actions.

Gmail didn’t openly agree with and they suggest going with a ramp-down for frequency of emails to inactives before you stop sending to them at

Daily ramps down to weekly, weekly ramps down to bi-monthly or just monthly etc. etc.

I was a little surprise that they suggest stopping all together from 3-6 months, however, this may have been more targeted to daily senders but apparently the Gmail marketing teams are advised to abide by this.

I’ve always been of the opinion that there was a level of percentages being applied to volumes sent that would affect reputation, rather than just reducing actual actions that were negative. Senders who have had higher open rates have always enjoyed more content freedom and sending volumes & speeds. This may not be the case in and they may put more weight on actual reactions.

The ramp-down has legs though. We already have a ramp up for new IPs.

If you do a ramp down, don’t just keep the same content, pick and choose and experiment, you need to get an open from these people so they get back in the engaged segment … more to come on that I expect.


The short version is that not being authenticated is just bad!

DKIM plays a big part in most inboxes nowadays but it is rumoured that SPF makes little difference even to who championed/invented SenderID as the evolution of it but it’s best to have at least those two at all times. DMARC is newer and not yet a requirement, most ISPs use it themselves but do not make it a requirement for delivery.

Content Filters

All agreed that there were no longer any “spammy keywords” which their systems looked for to decide on inbox placement. However, certain copy in the subject and content are more likely to result in negative reactions from users and reputation could then be affected.

I personally have found that I can take out certain collections of words on a junked email and get inboxed in and Gmail.

I’m of the belief that either those content filters do exist and the leniency of their filters depend on reputation.

Alternatively actual copy can have reputation, whether it is a word or a collection of words, which could be learned from user actions. This could have been an evolution of the old bayesian filters.

Either way they so it ain’t so.


Deliverability is personal to each inbox

… was the catchphrase, which essentially concurs with any deliverabiltiy experts’ advice:

reputation is one thing but each person uses their inbox differently and gets different emails, so each inbox learns differently so can react differently.

So it’s nice to get something from the horses mouth. From experience, I’m not ready to accept all of it at face value but I will adapt my priorities slightly. I hope this is of use to anyone else.



Further Reading

AOL, Comcast, Gmail, and open up at EEC15” by Massimo Arrigoni
How 4 Of The Top Mailbox Providers (Isp) Determine What Gets To The Inbox” by Al Bsharah

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