Review: Astro Email & Calendar for iOS and Mac

Review: Astro Email & Calendar for iOS and Mac

The quest for the best email app for iOS or Mac seems to be never ending. With each new app comes some killer feature, and usually, a laundry list of annoyances or frustrations. For me, my searching ended when I found Astro. Now version 3.0 is looking to make an already solid app even better.

Overview

Astro for iOS and macOS (free for iPhone, iPad, and Mac) is primarily an email app. It has all the things you would expect from a modern email app – an inbox with threaded messages, robust searching, priority grouping (Focused for Outlook, Primary for Google), snoozing features, and the ability to undo an accidental send.

What sets Astro apart, though, can be broken down into a few key features. These features improve functionality, ease of use, and efficiency for the app.

Key Features of Astro

The main difference with Astro (compared to other email apps) is also the key feature – Astrobot. Before version 3, the Astrobot served as a “chat” interface for adding an account, creating reminders (literally a scheduled email to yourself), recommending possible VIP contacts, and suggesting emails that required a response.

In version 3.0, Astrobot has learned some new skills. Now, VIP suggestions and other suggested email actions have. Moved to the new Insight tab in the app, so you can have a better idea of what emails need our attention. Because of that, Astrobot has gotten a little smarter, and is more like an assistant inside your email app, adding the ability to manage reminders and calendar event creation through spoken or typed chat to Astrobot.

Another big feature that helped make Astro my go to email app is the collection of message handing options. Features like setting emails to auto-archive after you respond, allowing for a less cluttered inbox. Astro also give you control over when to mark messages as read (on open or on scroll, as well as when archiving), or what the app should do after archiving an email (back to inbox, auto-advance to next message). Having an app that removes a step from my usual process makes working through email much more efficient, and Astro does just that.

The final point of Astro that makes it my favorite email app to use really shines on the Mac. Much like using google mail (either gmail or google apps) web browser, Astro is full of great keyboard shortcuts. Mastering just a few quick commands – “E” for archive the current or selected message, “A” to reply all, ⌘-enter to send – has made moving through email a breeze. It’s hard to quantify how nice simple shortcuts are, but they truly make a huge productivity difference, especially compared to the stock mail.app and the never ending list of shifts, options, ⌘, and control modifiers.

Additional Details

From a design aesthetic, Astro 3.0 borrows on their previous app design, only puts more of the important sections of the app – Astrobot, insights, calendar, mail, and settings – into tabs along the bottom of the app (iOS). On the Mac, “Ask Astrobot” is now in a quick text entry field on the left, with Insights located near the top with Inbox and Calendar. Overall, the app is clean, simple, and includes a fun “mascot” to sit in the dock or on your home screen!

Astro also includes Slack and Amazon Alexa integrations, which I wasn’t able to test. From the look of it, they’re super interesting, but I can’t speak to the actual functionality. If you’re heavily into Slack or Amazon’s Alexa devices, this could be a great added perk.

Verdict

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Having used Astro for the last 6+ months, the updates in version 3.0 make it an even better all-around email, and now calendar, application. While not everyone will find the Astrobot useful, the ability to create calendar entries, search for messages, or add reminders with “natural language” makes it a great bonus feature to an otherwise solid application. Currently, Astro only supports Gmail/Google Apps accounts, and Office365 accounts, which may pose a problem for those using other email services (like Outlook/Live or iCloud).

Pros:

  • Available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac (and Android)
  • Convenient keyboard shortcuts
  • Automatic messaging handling
  • Built-in Calendar and Reminders
  • Astrobot assistant and insights

Cons:

  • Astrobot requires specific formatting
  • Only supports Google and Office365 accounts.

If you’re looking for a new email app, or like exploring the whole wide world of alternatives to the stock apps on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, Astro is worth giving shot! Download it on the App Store (iPhone and iPad) or at helloastro.com for Mac!

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