A 3rd-party, Android email client, still worth using: FairEmail.

One of the observations which I’ve made about the Android platform is, that many of the 3rd-party email apps that once used to run well, no longer do so under Android 10, and that, additionally, their devs have often abandoned them.

For that reason, I’m happy to find that such an app still exists, or newly exists, and its name is FairEmail. This is an app, the free version of which can actually be used in the long term, but which I paid for, just to get the extra features.

One of the observations which I can make about this app is, that it has a plethora of settings, some of which I haven’t learned the meaning of yet. But, by default, the way to use it is to follow what is located in its first settings tab, which displays wizards to set up email accounts according to a database of recognized providers, and then, to leave the settings at their defaults. Additional wizards help the user give the app special settings under Android. The app directs the user to the required or optional settings, but it’s up to the user actually ‘to throw the switch’ each time. (:2)

Multiple email accounts can all be set up, using the same wizard.

The app runs in phone-optimized as well as tablet-optimized formats.

Screenshot_20200723-121436_FairEmail_1_e

Screenshot_20200723-121814_FairEmail_2_f

One of the features that were highly important to me was, support for both ‘S/MIME’ and ‘OpenPGP’. When using OpenGPG, this app will always encode it using the trendy ‘PGP/MIME’ format, and no longer, using ‘Clearsigning’, which was also referred to as ‘Inline Format’. The use of OpenPGP requires that an additional key-management app be installed, and on my devices, Open Keychain was already so, and was recognized immediately by FairEmail.

The app displays many widgets inside displayed emails, most of which give explicit commands to do things, that might impact the privacy of the user, such as, to display images, to display tracking images, etc. The app tries to distinguish between these two types of images because additionally, being an IMAP Client, downloading even plain images will consume additional data, when many emails can Humanly be understood, without the need actually to see the images. This is especially true for actual Spam.

The app leaves Spam filtering up to the IMAP Server, but displays the Spam Folder as fully accessible.

And many configuration details show me, that it assumes trendy preferences, even though I can’t say that either I, or most of my email contacts, qualify as trendy Internet users. One trendy feature is that this app mainly supports IMAP, and that any support of POP3 which the user may find, will be incomplete at best.

Another trendy setting in this app has to do with “Flowed Text”. This is a term which refers to ‘Pure Text Emails’, in which one paragraph is essentially written on one line. Traditionally, this lack of formatting was reserved for HTML-composed emails, and the receiving email client would always display those flowed. By contrast, traditionally, Pure Text had fixed line-lengths, determined by the sender, and the receiving client would break lines where line-breaks were sent, even if doing so, or not doing so, tended to wreck the appearance of the email…

(Updated 8/13/2020, 10h10… )

Continue reading A 3rd-party, Android email client, still worth using: FairEmail.

K-9 Mail is the way to go!

In this earlier posting, I had started to document, how under Android, I had been using the email-client “Kaiten”, which years ago, when I had started using it, was a paid-for alternative to the program “K-9″, in return for which I had expected regular updates.

But as it happened, Kaiten has stopped receiving support, while K-9 continued to receive the updates.

One of the features sorely lacking in Kaiten, was PGP/MIME support. Kaiten was limited to signing or encrypting emails using Inline Signatures, while the modern way to go about it is using PGP/MIME. Also, I’ve been receiving emails, which have also progressed to being signed with PGP/MIME, which Kaiten could not interpret.

And so just this morning, I made the switch on some of my Android devices, to K-9, which has PGP/MIME Support.

When using K-9, one no longer uses the companion app ‘APG’, but rather the companion app “OpenKeyChain“, to perform the cryptography.

Because K-9 actually accepts the configuration files exported by Kaiten, the switch was easy to carry out.

Dirk

 

Bell Canada has factually upgraded its email service.

In the past, the way the email service of my ISP – “Bell Canada” – worked, was that email was outsourced to Microsoft, such that at least my own ‘Sympatico’ email address, was also accessible as Web-mail, via ‘Hotmail’. The way this used to work, was that I had assigned sub-domains for accessing the POP and SMTP servers, which seemed to belong to Bell, but which nevertheless used to access my email with a Hotmail server.

Now, it had happened before that I had received emails from Bell, telling me to make sure I had updated my email server settings, to keep up with improvements that were being promised. But all those emails simply led to a site with Bell, according to which my settings were already correct as they were.

My explanation for that would be, that maybe not all Bell customers were on the same plan before, and that my arrangement with them may have been more of a testing arrangement. In any case I had visited the link each time, to make sure that the server settings recommended there, still corresponded to the server settings I had been using, and they had.

The aspect of this which is pleasantly surprising, was that as of May 3, the service was in fact upgraded – this time – and that it happened without any interruption of the service available to my POP clients, since my POP clients were already configured for the change. Thus, I had not really noticed that the upgrade had in fact taken place until later. I did, however, receive an email from Bell, saying ‘Welcome to the New Service.’

There was however a way in which I was bound to discover the improvement eventually. As long as my email was always hosted on Hotmail servers, a peculiarity of the service was, that one of my POP clients was configured to ‘Leave Email On The Server, For At Most 3 Days’, while all my other POP clients were just configured to ‘Leave Email On The Server’ (with no time limit set). This was one way I had intended to keep all my received email, on POP clients, in sync.

The problem with the earlier Hotmail arrangement was, that their servers would flagrantly disregard the command sent by my own email client, eventually to delete the emails. In fact, Hotmail had announced suspicion of my email client programs in the past, stating that ‘Some program has asked us to delete your emails. But because we do not trust this program, we have put those emails in a special folder for you.’ AFAIK, It could have been true that Hotmail did not trust this mysterious email client of mine, because mine was not a Microsoft client, being a Linux client, and there may have been some way for the Hotmail server to detect that. In fact, I am sure that email clients state a User Agent, the same way Web browsers state a User Agent.

What this meant in practice, was that every few days I would actually need to log in to my Web-mail, and to delete some emails manually, which the setting on that one email client were not sufficient to delete. Hence, it was inevitable that I would be heading back to the Hotmail, Web-mail server eventually, to look at and delete those emails.

Except that more recently, there were no emails in my Hotmail Inbox. My POP clients were still receiving emails, but my Web-mail did not reflect them. In response to this, I had actually changed the setting in the interim, so that none of my POP clients were set to have emails deleted from the server for now.

But it turns out, that the real reason for which my (old) Hotmail Web-mail was no longer showing any received emails, was this real upgrade. The new Web-mail site with Bell, shows me all the emails I have received since May 3.

What this also means, is that the potential now exists, for Bell email servers actually to follow the request of my client, to delete emails in the Inbox, older than 3 days.

Also, I happen to like the new Bell Web-mail layout better than the old Hotmail layout. And, there are No cross-scripted sites which the new Web-mail site links to, which could have been intended as advertisement under Hotmail, but which would trigger the script-blocker on my Web-browsers, that selectively blocks scripts from excessively-abusing domains. There seem to be no linked domains on the new Web-mail site, which my script blocker would want to block.

I guess that maybe, Hotmail was making some additional money on the side, which Bell does not need to make, because I am already paying Bell in full, for my services?

Dirk