From Newton to Edison

As I already mentioned, the e-mail client Newton will be discontinued in just a couple of days. I had switched to it from Spark out of frustration about bugs and the opinionated design approach.

There is no perfect e-mail client on iOS. All available options are defined by their own individual composition of pros and cons. Newton is (or was) no exception to this rule.

Newton came out as my preferred choice based on the existence of unique features such as the ability to collapse single messages in a thread. It’s a small feature, but i loved it. No other app that I have come across has anything similar.

After the news about the discontinuation of Newton broke, I very hesitatingly started looking around for other options. As I thought I had a pretty good overview about the available options I wasn’t very optimistic to find a suitable replacement.

To my surprise, I discovered one app that had not yet appeared on my radar.

Enter Edison.

Edison was apparently created out of the ashes of another client that I have had a look at a while ago but wasn’t deeply impressed with. It was called E-Mail by EasilyDo at the time.

In many ways, Edison is the perfect successor to Newton. It supports a large portion of the features I used in Newton. The two apps implement a different design language1 but that’s fine for me.

In my experience, both apps are very stable and hardly ever show any bugs or unexpected behavior. That’s a big deal for me and sets both Newton and Edison apart for other e-mail apps that I have used before2.

Edison‘s sidebar is significantly wider than Newton‘s. To balance this, Edison comes with the ability to hide the sidebar and go full-screen. Newton does not have a similar option and also lacks Edison‘s ability to configure the different e-mail views and filters offered in the sidebar3.

On the other hand, Newton comes with some options to share a message, either to a collection of “connected services” or via the native iOS share sheet. If sharing is a must then Edison will not become your friend.

Literally, the only option for sharing is to invoke the iOS share sheet on selected text. I don’t understand why Edison is so limited with respect to sharing. It would be nice if this drawback could be removed in the future.

Newton has a bunch of special features branded as “superchargers”. But frankly, I do not care much for any of them, with the possible exception of the “snoozing” (which is meanwhile supported by almost any e-mail client except Apple’s).

Speaking of features, here is a short and subjective list of features that sets Edison apart from other e-mail clients I have used over the years:

  • In addition to the ability to mark an e-mail as read by means of a swipe it is also possible to simply drag the blue dot that identifies unread messages away from the message.
  • There is an “Assistant” section in the settings where active newsletter subscriptions can be managed. Also, this section offers a “Security” view that checks whether one of the configured e-mail addresses can be found in a list of known security breaches.
  • Notifications of incoming messages: I have seen other apps that would start to miss one or the other notification over time and eventually stop notifying of incoming messages at all. Edison is not one of those.

Edison is free to download and use. According to the support page money is made out of analyzing “commercial messages”:

To keep our services free for you to use, we collect and store information from commercial messages such as promotions and receipts. We remove any information that identifies you personally (emails, names, addresses), and aggregate it into research about ecommerce trends for businesses that purchase our Trends product.

It is possible to opt out of this analysis.

You control what data Edison can collect and store, with options to delete your data or to opt-out of our Trends product.

However, there’s obviously no guarantee that the switch to opt out really has any consequences. Naturally, I’m not very much in favor of such a “business model” and would much prefer to pay good money for Edison. But unfortunately, they wouldn’t take it.

Of all the existing alternatives, Edison seems to be the most viable for my personal requirements from the technical point of view. Whether I can live with the business model remains to be seen.

  1. Newton has a general grey tine that makes it appear calm and almost muted whereas Edison comes with a white background, blue accents, and bold typography that seems more at home in modern versions of iOS. 
  2. Airmail, I’m looking at you. 
  3. The options for configuring the sidebar are absolutely comparable to e.g. Spark or Airmail