We see new email clients enter the Play Store all the time, so what sets Ark Mail apart? This app's claim to fame is its ability to pull up the social profiles of anyone who sends you an email. This process currently requires users to hop out of their email app, do a web search, and filter through results that may or may not show the correct person. Ark Mail brings this entire process in-app, and it boasts that it will pull up precisely the right contact.

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Here's A Little Background

The highlight of Ark Mail isn't the app's functionality but the Ark Social API that powers it. See, Ark is a company that has developed a search engine centered around looking up real people and tying together the correct social profiles. While your Yahoo and Google search results may have a difficult time distinguishing between John Doe, 19, that lives in Atlanta and John Doe, 43, that works in Detroit, Ark can do this, and they need an app that can prove it. Ark Mail is intended to be that app. Unfortunately, it doesn't really succeed.

What's Wrong With It?

Ark Mail only places links to Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. in the contact field for those people who have made these accounts publicly available. It sounds obvious that this would be the case, but in practice, it means the contacts that are most likely to have social networks associated with them are the same contacts that are easy to find in a Google search. The people I communicate with via email typically have their Facebook privacy settings cranked up and don't even bother to use Twitter or Google+, so Ark Mail has nothing to report.

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To compound the problem, the app does a poor job of pulling down information on companies. When I get emails from Ting and the Humble Bundle folks, I know both have social network accounts, but Ark Mail doesn't link to them. I know Ark only cares about people, not companies, but these accounts are so easy to find that Ark could throw these links up just for the sake of developing an app that feels complete. After all, the app already pulls down webpages for certain businesses. It just doesn't do so consistently, and there's no predicting which company's links it will display and which it will choose to ignore.

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To make a bad situation worse, the interface just doesn't feel complete. Most emails don't have an associated picture, and sometimes a photo of a penguin appears in place of a blank avatar. I imagine this is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Ark's logo, but it's not immediately obvious, and it ultimately looks confusing. Furthermore, icons don't look appropriately spaced or well-designed, and each screen of the app just feels cluttered. The sidebar is the only part that felt polished in any meaningful way.

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Should You Download It?

I've been pretty unforgiving thus far, but Ark Mail does have some redeeming qualities. It automatically detected and imported my Gmail accounts just fine. One nice feature is the ability to undo emails sent within the last ten seconds if you make a mistake, and there's basic gesture support for interacting with the items in your inbox.

But you won't really find any of this emphasized on Ark Mail's Play Store page. The focus here is on identifying people, and, quite frankly, I don't feel like it succeeds in doing so. If you want to see for yourself whether the app does a better job with the contacts in your inbox, it's available for free below - but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but the curious.

Via: TechCrunch

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-Sorensen/100000107093587 Jacob Sorensen

    It's just a first version from their team. I think you had a problem with your account or wireless connection because it works for me and I see social information for every email I get.

    • Joshua

      Doesn't seem to matter since they can't take feedback that isn't good for them. Pulling the app and then posting here like a little kid? Wow...makes me want to jump at the chance of trying your search engine!

      • Thomas Newsome

        Then don't. Looks like they do well without you. They responded to my feedback on the Google Play page and solved the bug, like they did with many others. That's how the Android community should be, but this is not constructive and why people don't build for Android.

        • Joshua

          The part that is the problem is the pulling of the app due to a bad review. I was still ready to try it but couldn't since they ran away after this article...at least so it seems since the first post about this article was the dev saying he pulled it.

          And why are you so up in arms about it? Got money riding on the app?

          • Thomas Newsome

            It worked well after they fixed my bugs, and now they won't support Android because of not a bad review, but an unfair, incorrect, poorly composed review. It works for most of us, so I don't know why they pulled it for Android but not iOS.

          • Joshua

            It's the internet, anyone can say anything they want including wrong info. I would have liked to try this myself before they pulled it though.

  • pobautista

    Rahul Vohra's Rapportive (for Firefox, Safari, Mailplane, and Chrome) is the best in this functionality. Rapportive was started in January 2010, and bought by LinkedIn in February 2012.

    For Android, the closest alternative to this, yet better than this, is Contapps https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.contapps.android , which AP reviewed back in 2011.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-Sorensen/100000107093587 Jacob Sorensen

      Rapportive is only on the desktop. Contapps is not an email client. There are millions of smart contact book apps. It's infinitely easier to do that or a browser plugin.

  • superflyriley

    Don't worry about it guys... we pulled it from the Android store and won't be doing Android anymore. We are a search and API company... not an Android app company. Btw, people comparing a browser plugin or smart address book to a fully functional email client needs to take a few classes in computer science.

    • http://flavors.me/kioshi kioshi

      That's a nice way to take constructive criticism.

    • Joshua

      Seriously? This is how you react when someone says something bad?

    • pobautista

      On one hand, Bertel, a full article criticizing and rejecting a V1.0 app isn't helpful to anyone. Hundreds of apps are added to the Play Store daily, and nobody needs news articles telling him that one of these hundreds is awful.

      On the other hand, superflyriley, if a major news site gives you coverage, any coverage, the polite way to reply is, "Hey guys, Thanks for checking out our app, and thank you very much for the feedback." Or just shut up and improve the shit out of it and then maybe post a comment to invite readers to try the new version.

      (This comment kinda continues what I wrote below. Cheers! :)

  • guest

    APK anyone ?

  • Aubrey Smith

    Huh. That isn't at all what mine looks like. This review looks like it was using an old version, which was bad and I told them on the Google Play page. But then they fixed it. Looks like the reviewer just showed commercial emails and not personal ones. I see all the social links and photos of my emails in my Nexus 4, so I think there was a problem when he was reviewing. Terrible review for a great concept and first version.

  • Thomas Newsome

    Works for me! I really like the thumbnails and social links... it's like Rapportive in my Nexus. Bertel only spent a few minutes with it and didn't even let it initially load. This review is based on a bad review or data load, of a beta version, and not constructive.

    • pobautista

      Bertel has probably never heard of Rapportive.

      • Aubrey Smith

        Lol. Totally. He seems clueless.

  • http://komorkomania.pl/author/michal-brzezinski Michal Brzezinski

    It's funny how majority of top comments (actually all 4 atm) come from people associated with Ark (it's enough to look at their other comments).

    • Thomas Newsome

      I've never commented via Discus so my one comment is on that article. That makes me associated? Pretty sloppy detective work. The reason why I don't comment here is everyone is so negative, and you've just confirmed that.