Mailplane Goes Chrome and Adds Features

(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #1

Originally published at:

On the Mac, Mailplane is a good fit for Gmail users who like Google’s Web-based interface but also want desktop features. With version 4, Mailplane rolls out many changes, including a new reliance on the Google Chrome browser under the hood, enabling the use of Gmail-focused Chrome extensions.

(Pilgrim) #2

Thank you, Julio, for the informative article. Do you (or does anyone else) have recommendations for a replacement for Apple Mail for a gmail account other than Mailplane? How do the various options compare with one another? Before I pay $29.99 for mailplane, it would be good to know if there is another application that is better. BTW, I’m still using El Capitan, on a 2012 MBP.

Thank you!

(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #3

I know my TidBITS editor Adam Engst has been kicking the tires on other email clients. Adam?

(Dennis Swaney) #4

My concern: does Mailplane include the Chrome/GMail feature that harvests your data and sends it to Google so they can monetize you? If not, how did they strip this basic built-in “feature” from Chrome and GMail?

(GraphicMac) #5

There are literally dozens of Gmail compatible email apps out there, and almost all of them LOOK better than Mailplane. Some are just gorgeous apps. But use them for a short time and you begin to see that the beauty is almost always skin deep.

Mailplane is the only app I’m aware of that offers multiple accounts for mail, calendar and contacts, able to view them all at once in tabs, has native Apple notifications–including for calendar items and Google Chat/Hangouts, has a Mac Share extension for easy integration with the Mac’s Finder as well as Google Docs, and the handy menubar widget which allows for quick replies. Now there’s light-duty image annotation as well.

I’ve been using it for years. I try virtually every other Gmail app upon release hoping that the better looking ones finally offer everything I need. After a week or two, I’ve always ended up switching back to Mailplane.

(GraphicMac) #6

We all know the answer to that, so why ask? Google harvests your info, regardless of how you access it.

(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #7

Exactly my take.

(Simon) #8

I’d assume Google does all of its nasty business server side so you’ll be subjected to it regardless of the client you chose. What is very effective against that, however, is just dumping them. :wink:

(Adam Engst) #9

Within certain constraints, assuming you believe Google (and if you don’t, there’s no conversation to be had about the topic). Back in July 2017, Google stopped scanning Gmail for ad-targeting reasons.

So I think it’s safe to say that Google is not monetizing Gmail by using it for ad targeting. Other data collected along the lines of what Google says it does in its privacy policy may be valuable to the company in other ways.

(Adam Engst) #10

I’ve been playing with Spark and Astro in particular—both are free. I like Spark’s feature set and UI, but it has serious performance problems currently. Updates are coming out quickly to address that.

Astro’s UI and feature set aren’t quite as compelling, but it has no performance issues.

I simply don’t like Mail, which is why I’ve used Mailplane for so many years. However, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, I’ve been seeing more lags in the Web interface for Gmail in the last few months, enough that I decided to try these other apps.

I can’t recommend anything wholeheartedly at this point, but Spark and Astro are worth a try.

(Jeremy Roussak) #11

Another issue with Spark for MacOS is that it’s not functionally scriptable, and for me that’s a deal breaker. I’ve asked them to add scripting, and I’m beta testing for them. I live in hope. On the iPhone, I find it very much better than Mail.

Astro isn’t scriptable either.


(GraphicMac) #12

They don’t “Monetize” Gmail, but they are still collecting data, if you ask me. My reason for saying that:

I was emailing back & forth with a co-worker about standing desks in the office - this was several emails. All of a sudden, I started seeing Google adwords ads on several websites I visit for standing desks (VariDesk and one other that I don’t recall the name of). I have never been to either of their websites, so I see no other way or reason those ads would suddenly start showing up for me just a day or so after the email chain.

(GraphicMac) #13

Spark is pretty nice looking, but along with the performance problems, I’ve read about some security issues in how they handle the email (they collect data from “commercial” emails and sell the info). Perhaps they’ve changed in the last year, but the Spark ship has sailed for me. It also doesn’t offer full Google Calendar integration.

I tried using Airmail, which also looks very nice, but it’s lack of full calendar integration and complete lack of Google Chat/Hangouts was a non-starter for me with this app as well. Again, this may have changed in the last year since I’ve used it.

I absolutely hate the Gmail interface (which obviously MailPlane uses), but I haven’t found any other app that doesn’t sacrifice full functionality for a nice GUI.

I hope you find something to your liking, and look forward to seeing your findings.

(tbc1812) #14

Does anyone know if Mailplane servers collect or maintain data from our Gmail accounts? I know some of the apps like Spark have to collect and store some of the email content on their servers so they can implement features like Send Later.

If Mailplane only provides the same features you would natively get through Gmail it may not need to store data on their servers (I hope).

I understand the app have access to our Gmail data but my hope is that nothing leaves my local machine and is being sent back to Mailplane headquarters.

(Adam Engst) #15

As far as I’m aware, no, there are no “Mailplane servers.” Mailplane has always just been a front-end to the Gmail Web interface, and while you have to log in to Gmail, of course, there is no Mailplane account to log into that would store such information. And there’s no communication of Mailplane settings or the like between machines.

What you describe is true of Spark, however, and many other email apps.

(Dennis Swaney) #16

Adam, have you looked at Canary Mail 2? Since Mailplane is just a MacOS shell wrapped around Gmail, perhaps a “fourth” party app might work better for those of us who have other email accounts in addition to Gmail.

(Adam Engst) #17

I haven’t tried Canary Mail 2, no. I gave Spark a good go, but its performance just wasn’t acceptable with my account, so I went back to Mailplane.