I’ve always detested one (or two) thing(s) about my iphone. My primary moan? Why not make the landscape keyboard more widely available? On a scale from 1 to 10, using a portrait keyboard to type emails on an iPhone is immensely sucky.
Apple made landscape work in Safari; if you’re in the browser and have to type (in the URL, or in a form) the keyboard pops up in landscape mode. This means the keys are bigger, more widely spaced, and significantly easier to tap. This is good usability. In either SMS or email mode, I can only use the portrait keyboard. This is poor usability. Given the fact that the capability exists, I can’t see any reason not to make the functionality universally available.
Lots of people told me that I’d get used to the keyboard if I gave it enough time. They were wrong. It sucks. It sucked a year and a half ago, and it sucks now too. Hence my joy, my excitement, my joie de iPhone that Firemail exists. Firemail is an application available in the App store that lets a user type emails with a landscape keyboard. Lawdy lawdy, I thought the day would never come. The folks at Conceited Software are to thank for this handy piece of code. Let me do so now. Thank you Conceited Software. Try not to let it go to your head. Pun intended.
Now, the mechanics of the thing are not entirely ideal. In order to write these blessedly quick and easy to type emails, you have to load Firemail from your homescreen, not the email app. When the app opens you will be able to compose a subject and message. Once done with your composition you can save a draft (called a bookmark) or send to email. This is great for writing a new email. But what about replying to old emails? That too is possible, here’s how:
- Open your email app
- Open an email
- Hit reply
- Hit the home button
- Open Firemail
- Draft your response
- Select “Send to Mobile Mail”
- Boom shaka laka. Your email is now a reply to the email you were reading before.
I didn’t even know you could do this till I read a couple other reviews of this app. iPhone Hacks put a great one together, and so did Ben Boychuck at Macworld. Personally, I think it’s a very strong app, and it has a place on my homescreen. I do wish it integrated a little more seamlessly with the iPhone email, but it’s a very solid app and allows me to do something that’s frustrated me since my very first week with the iPhone.
The app used to be free – it was free when I downloaded it a couple months ago. Now they charge 99 cents for it, and I think it’s definitely worth that fee. It turns iPhone email from something frustrating and terrible into something that’s reasonably not sucky. If I were forced to give Firemail a numeric rating between 1 and 10, I’d call it a 7.
This entry is also posted at 1TO10REVIEWS.