Moving my email to Google Apps has, thus far, been interesting. I don’t regret it, and consolidating multiple emails down to three was a good choice. The learning curve of adding in email aliases so I can mail from all the accounts I use, and the limits of Gmails shitty filters so everything is funneled to the right place, has been tricky.
As I mentioned before, I have a ton of aliases. Adding them in on the Google Admin back end (just renamed G Suite) is weird but easy enough. To be able to email from them, you have to also add them in via the normal Gmail web app. It’s tucked under Settings > Accounts, and under “Send mail as”, click Add another email address.
But if you don’t want to use the web app (and I don’t), Gmail can be a bit of a turd. It doesn’t work great with the desktop Mail.app, and it works terribly with iOS’s mail. Gmail and Apple are just at odds with how email works. They both want to control your experience and redefine email in different ways. Frankly I prefer the Mac way, but that’s personal preference.
What is a universal problem is that I needed a way to email from my aliases, and if you set up email as Google Mail in the iOS mail app … you can’t.
Yes, you read that right. It is flat out impossible to set up email aliases for a Google mail account. If you want to use the iOS mail app and Goggle email and aliases, you have to set up Gmail as an IMAP app, and that’s sort of a shit show in the making. Gmail’s IMAP implementation is non-standard, to put it simply. Among other things, you can only use 15 connections to IMAP per account. If I had the desktop app open and my iPhone and iPad, weird shit happened.
Now, there are solutions. You could use the Gmail app, but it sucks and doesn’t have an Apple Watch component. Also it’s ugly. Excuse me. It’s basic. You could also use Google’s Inbox app, but you have to use Inbox and the email filters aren’t as robust.
This leads us to our final solution. Spark.
This app was something I’d played with before, as it had email alerts on the Apple Watch, and I wanted to get pinged for some work emails while updating all DreamPress installs over at DreamHost. Sadly, the fault of the app not meeting that need is Gmail, again, which has no way to filter properly and send an alert only when an email meets specific criteria.
What Spark does do is everything else. It has a Watch component, it syncs between my iPad and iPhone, it looks like an iOS app, it acts like a Google app, it pulls in the features people rave about Inbox, and it has email aliases that are simple to set up. Whew. The only thing it doesn’t do is show me a count for unread messages in my folders.
I can live with that.