Dispatch streamlines e-mail on the iPhone

(MoneyWatch) Where is the perfect e-mail client for the iPhone? While we're awash in superb mail clients for the smartphone these days -- most are far superior to the anemic app that Apple provides -- each has an Achilles' heel that prevents me from embracing it.

The latest contender is called Dispatch, and it claims to be "action-based mail." Let me cut to the chase: If not for a few critical flaws, Dispatch could be The One. As it stands, it'll make some people very happy with its broad array of surprisingly great features -- though there will be some who won't be able to overlook its shortcomings.

Like most of Dispatch's contemporaries, this app is controlled via gestures. When in your inbox, swipe any e-mail to the left for most of the app's main control options -- mark as unread, star a message, archive, spam and trash. For every action, there's an easy, one-click undo option, so you'll never stress about accidentally deleting an important e-mail.

When you respond to an e-mail, you'll find tha tDispatch comes equipped with a lot of cool stuff. Thanks to a configurable library of snippets, you can quickly reply to e-mails with pre-canned text. The snippets are searchable and can be divided into categories for easier management. The "Personal" snippet category comes stocked with boilerplate entries for things like your address, signature, passport details and bank account numbers (which you certainly don't have to use). You can also select text in an e-mail and turn it into a "quote" for your e-mail reply, so if you want to respond only to a small section of the e-mail, that's a breeze to do as well.

One small but elegant touch: Dispatch automatically adds a salutation at the top of the e-mail based on the name of the addressee.

Dispatch's most notable feature, though, is the way it integrates with a slew of other built-in and third-party apps. You can't defer an e-mail till a later time (as you can with, say, Mailbox), but you can create a one-tap reminder about the message. You can send links from e-mails to Instapaper or Evernote. There are more than two dozen apps in all that work with Dispatch, including Google Maps, Things, Asana, Safari and Chrome.

Dispatch has so much to recommend it that I wish I could make this app my full-time iPhone e-mail client. Unfortunately, it doesn't sync with other IMAP folders -- only the inbox -- and it doesn't work with Exchange mail at all. It's not a very powerful client for creating new e-mails, either. For now, you can't attach documents or photos to messages.

But if Dispatch can rectify these limitations, it'll be a contender for the best iPhone e-mail client ever.

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