Email is one of those things that form the backbone of the internet. No matter how old or outdated or cumbersome it may be to use in this age of instant communication over text message and Twitter, we still have email. It’s pretty much essential to have a virtual address in order to use web services like Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and even Android. Even if you don’t particularly like using email (and we at TechNorms do not), it’s pretty much mandatory for using the internet.
Thankfully, smartphones make email a little bit more palatable. Now instead of struggling with signing in and out of different accounts and going out to check, we can receive emails pushed to our phone. This approach is much easier. Ironically, despite our dislike for email, we personally hold no less than six different email accounts. They tend to accumulate over time. Handling this much email can be a bit of a chore. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for a good Android client for taking care of our electronic mail. We found K-9 Mail.
No, K-9 Is Not A Dog
Despite its singularly odd name, K-9 Mail bears no relation to a real dog or the robotic pooch on Doctor Who. It’s an email app that takes pride in appearing to be as similar to the stock Android client as possible, while still packing in extra features that make it worth downloading.
Interestingly, we recognized the vast majority of K-9’s features from our time with the stock email app for the famous custom ROM CyanogenMod 7. That app is clearly similar to K-9, so CM7 users may not necessarily need to upgrade past stock. Our Evo 4G’s default Sense mail client, though, falls far short of K-9.
This app is worth downloading because it basically gets rid of all the little annoyances that plague the stock Android email app. K-9 comes with pages and pages of settings for the power user. With all the options available, you can set up the email to be received exactly the way you want.
There are options for frequency of updating, how many messages are downloaded, whether images are downloaded by default, multiple languages, special hidden accounts, page wrapping to for smaller phone screens, and even a night mode for reading in the dark.
Reading emails proved to be a trade-off. By default your mail shows as it would on a desktop it its unformatted glory. This is awkward to read on a small phone screen, so we found an option to reformat all messages. This made them a whole lot easier to read, although it was at the cost of the embedded images.
The other parts of reading mail were a little easier. There are contextual options to reply to or forward any received mail. Swiping side to side scrolls through received messages. On a larger scale, K-9 has a general inbox that dumps the mail from all your accounts into one gigantic folder. Thankfully, each email account is color-coded so you can keep track of which address received which message within the general inbox.
Finding email can be tricky with six different accounts. The search feature helps with this. Just type in a word and K-9 will bring up all messages with that word anywhere within the message. Unfortunately, it only searches messages you’ve downloaded from the server.
The only real annoyance is K-9’s insistence on adding its own signature blurb to the end of every message. We have not found a way to disable this yet, and it needs to be.
Showing Off Its Tricks
Like we mentioned before, having six separate email accounts can be a hassle. We have one for school, one for TechNorms, one for Facebook, one for Xbox Live, one for Steam… they really tend to add up. These accounts are also with different email providers, so it can sometimes be a challenge to find a client that can stream data down from Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo.
For our first test, we threw K-9 a softball and asked it to sync the Gmail account we use for Android. Sure enough, K-9 needed only our name and password to automatically grab all of our mail. The same happened when we added our email accounts with Yahoo. In all three cases, K-9 was able to link up the accounts with no trouble.
The real test was trying to set up our TechNorms account. That address has some complicated settings and does not tend to play well with email clients. Although K-9 was not able to automatically log in, we had no issues with setting up the connection manually.
If you ever have an email account that does not automatically sync, you’ll have to manually enter in the proper data in order to connect to the mail server. Go to your email account on a PC and check out the POP/IMAP settings. Those should give you the specific pieces of information to feed into K-9.
Messing around with the POP settings can be confusing, but thankfully K-9 is compatible with them all. The important part is that even if you have an email account that isn’t vanilla Gmail or Yahoo, it can still be read.
Should You Download K-9?
Overall, K-9 is a pretty good email client. If you regularly use non-Gmail accounts, it is definitely recommended over the stock email client. The interface is decidedly unappealing and sometimes user-unfriendly, but the bevy of features more than make up for this minor shortcoming. We loved all the features that came built into K-9. It is definitely our favorite email app for Android.