[Updated 2010.04.12: New “Rules” feature added]
I recently discovered an app that has really enhanced my experience using email on the iPhone. PushMail ($2.99 from iTunes) fills several big functionality gaps in the built-in mail app’s capabilities, namely (1) instant notification of new mail; (2) ability to assign different sounds per sender, subject, or mail accounts; (3) a variety of sounds to choose from that are much more prominent than the built-in mail app’s “ding”; and (4) ability to automatically mute notifications during certain times of the day or night.
Without going into much detail on the basic usage, this app requires you to set up an account on the developer’s server, and to forward your own email to that account by changing the settings on your server. Be sure to keep a copy of all mail on your server since the forwarding action is, by design, only intended to provide the instant notification of new mail–not to consolidate and store your email. All mail that is forwarded to your iPhone for instant notification can then be filtered within the app to ensure you are informed of emails from specific senders or those that contain subject lines you wish to monitor.
I have two email accounts set up on my iPhone. I reserve one account (on gmail) for Google Voice notifications (SMS and voice mail) and for receiving priority emails from other family members. I always want that one to let me know of incoming mail since it basically replaces text messaging for me. I use the second email account for general correspondence with anyone and everyone, but still want to know when certain individuals email me on that account. I need a prominent notification sound for the first email, and a more subtle sound for a select group of emails sent to the second account (and silent for all the rest).
PushMail can do all this and more by implementing “custom profiles” and by matching sender, recipient, account, or subject lines to a pre-defined pattern within each profile. By using a rule editor, you may use a combination of filters to ensure notification for a specific set of parameters. It executes custom profiles from top to bottom, in order, using the first one for which the email matches the established pattern.
So how do I set it up PushMail to do what I need? Very simply, I’ve established three profiles:
- Profile 1 (“All gmail”): This simply uses a rule set that recognizes my gmail address. In the rule set I simply designate the account to be my gmail address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ve set this profile to give me the loudest sound I could find.
- Profile 2 (“Family and Close Friends”): I enter a series of rules (separated by the “OR” operator) that recognizes either names or email addresses for each person. You may use an expression in the form of from:Mom OR from:Dad OR from:Spouse, or better yet–just use the rule editor (see image).
- Profile 3 (“Ignore all others”): This pattern contains only my second email address (email@example.com) and is set to “IGNORE” so no notifications will occur. All email that doesn’t match a pattern in one of the first two profiles will be ignored.
When viewing a popup notification, Pushmail does provide an option to open the mail app, read the email within the app, or link to an external URL. Some may find those features helpful, but I’ve found the most useful implementation to be the simplest: dismiss the popup and enter the mail app manually. That works best for me to ensure the mail app badge remains cleared of unread emails.
The author is very responsive and appears to have more great things planned. Kudos for his excellent development skills!