Thunderbird for Android is coming – in the form of an evolved K-9 Mail. But can the new email client live up to its former popularity?
A month ago, Thunderbird hinted that an app would be released for Android – but nobody expected that it would take over the K-9 Mail project and use it as a basis for the new email client. We spoke to cketti, maintainer of K-9 Mail and who will be jointly responsible for the Thunderbird app in the future – about the change.
The merger with Thunderbird seems to have been going on for almost four years years to come – and there seems to have been agreement on the goals for a long time. Why didn’t both projects go together immediately – what has changed now?
Thunderbird is a community driven project. Four years ago, general interest in working together was not very great. But that has changed over time. Then, earlier this year, Ryan, the Thunderbird product manager, and I worked out a plan for integrating K-9 Mail into the Thunderbird project. The community body, the Thunderbird Council, then agreed to this.
A year ago, K-9 Mail introduced a controversial redesigned interface that, under some power not well received by users. Further experiments with the GUI are now pending – how does the project intend to bridge the different needs of the quite different user groups in the future?
This is definitely a balancing act. We try to design the interface and operation in such a way that most users can easily find their way around. At the same time, we want to enable power users to adapt the app’s interface and behavior to their workflows. The Thunderbird team has UX specialists and together we will take a close look at where and how we can change the app so that it works for as many types of users as possible.
Not only the project, you too switch to Thunderbird and stay in the saddle. The mail client should be on a more stable footing and many long-awaited functions should appear – thanks to better finances and a larger development team. For example, if the program stays under the hood of K-9 Mail, how do you plan to win back users who have migrated to FairMail?
Our plan is to quickly add the features that users want. We’ll start with functionality familiar from other popular email apps and then move on to features for power users. The goal is to provide the best email experience on Android. Until then, of course, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. But we are motivated and will work towards this goal every day.