iOS 6 hands-on review: The new Mail app


Mail is probably the app I use the most on my iOS devices(s AAPL). It’s where I triage my email and send responses that require immediate attention. I can’t check any personal email on my work computer, so my iPhone is called upon to do some heavy lifting. Up until iOS 6, I’d considered it merely adequate for my needs. Now, it’s moved into not-half-bad territory.

Below is a rundown of my experiences with the new features of the app, which will be available to everyone with iOS 6, which is scheduled to roll out later on Wednesday.

The VIP mailbox

The VIP mailbox is the new feature of Mail that I use the most. It’s a way to flag a contacts as VIPs and have their emails show up in the special VIP section in Mail as well as Notification Center. This is handy when I have my iPhone docked at work and when a VIP email is received, Notification Center will pop up with the preview of the email.

To turn on the VIP mailbox, go to Settings, Notification Center, Mail, VIP. From there you can set how the VIP notifications are displayed.

To set a contact as a VIP, tap on their name in Mail. That will bring up the Sender page, and from there, tap on Add to VIP.

You can then read your VIP mails by going to the VIP area under All Inboxes in the Mail sidebar.

For the most part I’m happy with the VIP flag. It’s a good way to quickly find and read emails from crucial contacts.

Mail Flagging

In Microsoft Outlook(s MSFT), I’m a big fan of flagging items. I’m not big on Inbox Zero, but I use the Mark for Followup flag to tag emails that contain requests I need to act upon. A version of that concept makes its appearance in Mail, albeit just to flag items or mark them as unread. To Flag an item, in the message itself there is a flag button in the lower left-hand corner. Tapping that will let you set flagged or unread status.

It’s not a feature I use every day — fortunately, not many of my non-day job emails are actionable. I have found, however, that it’s a great tool to remind me of a form I need to fill out when I get home. Which reminds me, I have a form flagged.

Easier sending of photos and video

Every Friday night I get together with a group of friends. Usually leading up to this event there is a significant amount of trash talking and sending of mostly juvenile pictures we’ve found on the internet to make our point. Now with Mail, right from the email I’m replying to I can tap as if I’m trying to copy text, tap on the arrow on the right-hand side of the selection pop-up, and then choose “Insert Photo or Video” from there, I can see my available albums and choose an image from there.

What I’d still like to see from Mail

While I like the new additions to Mail, I’m never satisfied. One thing I’d like to see added is creating a calendar event or reminder right from Mail. I know Mail is smart enough to try and create an event if it sees “this Friday” in an email, but I’d like to be able to tap on a button and create an event or reminder with the body of the text included. While unlikely, I’d also love if Mail could see which documents I had in the Cloud and let me send the email from within Mail. This way, if an editor sends me a note asking for another copy of an article, I’d like to be able to reply to that email and send the attachment from iCloud.

Overall, though, iOS 6 Mail has some nice features that should help you be more productive with your mail workflow.



I cant seem to view my old emails in this new ios6 mail app.. The weird thing is that i am ale to do so in safari when i log in from there :s is there something i missed out?

John Doedoe

I would like to see language as an option contacts to switch spell checker depending on the 1st to mail address

Not Impressed

A 21st century mail client where you can’t send simple word, excel, PowerPoint or office document… must be a joke!

Irish Park

Even with iOS6, and the new iPhone 5, Siri still won’t “do email.” We need true email inbox management that’s eyes-free and hands-free. There’s a smartphone app called Talkler —billed as “email for your ears.” It’s a free smartphone app that’s voice-controlled, and reads your emails aloud to you.


Question regarding VIP. I have received an email from someone who I have NOT included in my VIP list, however their email shows up as a VIP email. I have double checked my VIP list and they are not included. If someone set you up as a VIP on their email would you then automatically receive any email from that person as a VIP email?


My son updated my iPhone 3 to iOS6, when I’m typing an email a voice says the words. What is this and how can I stop it? I can’t find anything pertaining to this in my settings. Thank you!


I have found the VIP feature to be useful when it works. I have seen a number of times situations where i receive an email, i get the notifications and i read the VIP email..then it no longer exists in any mailbox. I cannot find it in my exchange or hotmail account.
This appears to be a bug of some sort which doesn’t seem to be resolved even after restarting the phone.


Whats truly b.s. is the fact that apple (or gmail; doesnt matter) does not offer the push option for gmail-setup gmail accounts (as opposed to ms exchange-setup gmail accounts). I am being reminded day after day why i left ios in the first place; apple is doing more damage to their ecosystem these days than they are good- growing pains notwithstanding.


Does the new iOS6 mail app handle gmail when your gmail account is set up to use HTTPS?
My new iPad on iOS5 wouldn’t work.


in ios6 if you go into settings they show that you have available to you, “ssl” as an encryption option. not sure if thats the same as https off the top-of-my-head but its nice to see some level of privacy protection.


After update to iOS 6, the biggest problem I’m having is my mailbox totally can’t update at all. Please help!!! I do try to reset in the setting and make some verifying .. But same problem appear..


I’m having the same problem and you’re the only place I see mention of it. I haven’t been able to “get mail from the server” since I upgraded.


Its a io6 wi-fi issue. Turn off your wi-fi and you’ll see your email load. I found that restarting my iphone5 helped my wi-fi acknowledge connection but i think that ios6 is buggy still atm-


I set up a VIP contact with a specific sound with notifications turned on but it played the default sound instead of the one I set when mail came in.

Jessica Stough

I think it’s still pretty lacking. I’m using Taskbox (in beta), and has completely changed the way I handle email on my phone. Way faster, way less of a headache, and I can keep track of things much easier than trying to figure out how to ‘flag’ something or ‘mark as unread.’


a quick or pop up option in next to the mailbox that says “MARK ALL AS READ” thats what i wanted.


Apple Mail for iOS 6 is only a step above what it was for IOS 5 and it could use a lot more improvements. The ‘flagging’ folder on my iPhone seems buggy and only recognized 2 of the 16 flagged emails I have sitting in my Apple Mail desktop folder. I’ve also found that it doesn’t work both ways – if I flag something on my MacBook desktop it doesn’t register on my iPhone. If I flag something on my iPhone, it only sometimes registers. All of this was spot-on with my Sparrow mail app.

It’s probably a gmail thing. Stupid petty competitions which hurt the end-user’s experience.


i hate the new phone feature…. i mistakenly move some emails from Exchange account to Yahoo but couldn’t undo or move back to Exchange :-(


My VIP mail does not work. I have an iPhone 4 & just updated it to ios6. Any ideas as to why it won’t work?


Trying to figure out if you can flag an email in OSX and have it pop up in your flagged folder on IOS 6 – you would think yes, but so far it’s not working . . .


I am really waiting for Apple or a third party app to be able to create a calendar event from an email.

Volume Cellular Inc.

I’ve been using iOS 6 for a while, my biggest gripe is why no unread inbox? They have one for VIP and one for flagged, would unread have been such a big deal?


I often skim quickly through mail on my iPhone, deleting unimportant emails and marking as unread ones that need somewhat detailed follow-up (the kind that I’d rather do on a computer with a real keyboard). In iOS5, that was a single click procedure, but with iOS6 it’s a two click procedure. Not the end of the world, but it is an annoyance.

Lee Cullivan

My biggest gripe with the mail app is that you can’t have different signatures for your multiple accounts when sending…


For me, flagging messages worked in iOS5 but only works for iCloud email in iOS6, is this not the case for others? I have gmail, exchange, and icloud, only icoud allows flagging, they all show the flag but the only option on all other than icloud is mark unread.

Gustavo Adolfo Lopez Urrea

For me it works on iCloud and with may Exchange’s work account; doesn’t work anymore with gmail do.


Maybe it’s just another stab at google then because my “exchange” account are actually google apps accounts set up as exchange.


Actually flagging does not work on exchange created (gmail) on my iphone 5, ios6. Flagging does work on an native gmail created account however. I just tried this tonight-


Thanks for the information..curious though, what is that little icon that looks like a moon next to the time on the status bar?


It’s the do not disturb indicator. You can set times where received alerts / calls will be silent if the phone is locked. When the phone is currently scheduled as “do not disturb” the moon icon will show


For me, e biggest thing here is being able to attach something to an email directly from the composition window. I really don’t see why it took so long to implement such a rudimentary feature.


You can. Just hold down in the blank area of email and wait for the select menu. Click the right arrow. Insert “photo or video” is now an option.

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