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

 

I see Android 7.1.1 as a significant improvement over 5.x .

In Android 7.1 , Google seems to have taken an aggressive approach to rectifying this problem and this problem.

Not only do newer versions of Android give users control over granting each permission to an app that requests it, thus slowing down privilege escalation attacks that have been possible in the past. But Android 7.1 actually rolls back permissions, which have been granted in the past. When we upgrade, the apps are optimized in such a way that many of their permissions default to Not Granted, until an effort is made by the user to Grant Them.

Further, since version 6.0.1 , Android has a feature called Doze. What it seems to do is cancel alarms which apps had set, to wake themselves again in the background. It cuts down significantly on the battery consumption of a fully up-to-date Google Pixel C.

Unfortunately, this also interferes with how the email apps Kaiten and K-9 work, which try to poll the email servers at regular, user-configured intervals, but which eventually stall in their older way of doing so, instead displaying the message ‘Sync Disabled’. On my own Pixel C, I have had to whitelist the Kaiten app, to exclude it from Battery Optimization manually, so that now it is fetching emails from the server again.

Continue reading I see Android 7.1.1 as a significant improvement over 5.x .