I’ve been using a new app for Windows 8.1 for the last week or so, called TouchMail. TouchMail is full email client replacement for those stock apps that Microsoft includes with Windows 8.x. The Microsoft apps are good, but they still present a very old-style experience, unlike the majority of other touch-enabled apps on the Metro side of the new operating system.
TouchMail is really the first email app for Windows 8.1 that attempts to fully utilize a touch environment. There have been other email apps released in the past year, but they all stuck to the standard Microsoft Outlook model for look, feel, and folder organization. What really sets TouchMail apart is the interface. Emails are retrieved and stored in Windows 8.1-style tiles within the app.
Each tile contains enough information from the email content that you can quickly skim to locate those emails you need to address right away, and those you can read at your leisure. And, if you prefer to see more in the tile, you can use the magnifying glass component at the top right of the app to change the size of the tile. Tiles can be horribly small, or even be configured to take up most of the entire screen.
Creating emails is no different than how the stock Windows 8.1 app works. Tap the ‘plus’ sign and a new email window overlay pops up on the right hand sided of the screen.
Currently TouchMail supports up to 3 separate email accounts and you can switch between accounts by tapping the profile tile at the top right of the app screen.
TouchMail also reformats the view when snapped to share the screen with another app, so you can watch emails flow in while working on other things.
Sorting email is good. By tapping the down arrow at the top of the screen, you can sort email by time, by Sender, and by Conversation.
TouchMail supports Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Office 365, and many IMAP providers. And, it also supports social profile photo integration through a connection to the Windows 8.1 People app.
While the experience is a good one, TouchMail is not quite there yet, though. It doesn’t quite have the spit-and-polish you’d expect, and really feels like a beta app. There are some important features missing, but I’m sure, if the developers want TouchMail to be popular they are working on those features now.
Some missing pieces/bugs:
- Multiple accounts do not currently support their own Start Screen Tile.
- There is no “refresh” email option (see next bullet point).
- TouchMail is slow to update. Testing side-by-side with the stock Windows 8.1 app, TouchMail sometimes takes several minutes to show new emails have arrived. The Windows 8.1 app updates immediately (and has a refresh option).
- No folder support.
- No toast notifications for new email.
- No Live Tile implementation.
TouchMail is available for free from the Windows 8 app store. And, while it’s not perfect, I’m sure new features will be coming to help make it a much better experience. Obviously, in its current state, I can't recommend it as a full replacement for the stock email app. Still, I believe TouchMail is a huge step in the right direction for bringing a better touch experience to Windows devices. Despite it lacking some necessary features, I’m going to continue to use TouchMail and watch as new features are added. Hopefully, the developers can get it right because Windows 8.1 severely needs a better email app that actually takes advantage of touch capability.
Download it by searching the Windows 8 store for ‘TouchMail,’ or use the following link: