Launch of Mailfence mobile app
We are incredibly thrilled to announce that the Mailfence mobile app is officially going out of beta. Thanks to our new mobile app, free users will be able to use Mailfence’s state of the art encryption on their mobile device. Our mobile app was developed as a progressive web application (PWA). As of now, our release notes will include a new section dedicated to updates of our mobile app 😀.
What can you do with the Mailfence mobile app?
Here is a small list of what’s available. As promised, here is an overview of the features of the mobile app.
- Access all of the Mailfence components: Mail, Contacts, Calendar and Documents.
- Send & receive encrypted emails
- Access private & group workspaces
What is a PWA?
A PWA is an application that works on any platform regardless of the operating software. Our PWA works across all mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. PWA is accessible through the web when accessing Mailfence from a mobile device (click on the hamburger menu ☰ to access the login page). Since they are available on the web via an URL you don’t have to go to Google store or the App Store to find them. There are so many cool features and advantages of PWA that we will explain in the following sections. Installing our mobile app is dead-simple: all you need to do is to follow these simple installation steps.
You may have seen and potentially used PWA’s without even noticing them. Twitter announced its Twitter Lite PWA that allows users with older and slower devices to surf and enjoy Twitter. Facebook did the same with Facebook lite. The list goes on and on, the point is that PWAs are incredibly versatile and thus allow companies to achieve things they could not with native apps. Native apps are heavy, take time and a lot of resources to develop. Finally, you have to pay a commission to be included in the app stores.
Advantages of a PWA
What are some of the advantages of the PWA you ask? For starters, you don’t need to go to the Google store or the App Store to download it. As we have said in the past, try to refrain from using platforms from Big Tech. Some additional advantages:
- Updates are automatic & take seconds.
- Installing the app takes seconds.
- You (and we) are independent of Big Tech.
- PWA’s are lightweight hence they don’t require huge storage capacities.
- They work across many screen sizes and devices.
- Development costs are lower since you only need to develop one app instead of two. (One for Android & one for iOS)
- With the PWA, we do not cache messages, documents, calendar events, or contacts.
Limitations of the Mailfence PWA
Here are some limitations of our PWA. Please keep in mind that some of these limitations will be fixed in the future, as we add more and more stuff to our mobile app.
- The Settings cannot yet be managed via the mobile app, you have to log in to the desktop version to change your settings. This will be fixed in the near future.
- To install the mobile app, Android users need to use Chrome and iOS users need to use Safari (you will be using a Webview of Chrome or Safari however, thus your data will not be tracked). App installation is not yet supported for Firefox, DuckDuckGo, Brave, …
- This concerns users who use 2FA. Every time you sign out of the Mailfence mobile app you need to insert your time-based token. Login sessions are not long-lasting. We will evaluate and work on fixing this in the near future.
- Instant messaging chat isn’t yet supported.
- Push notifications are not yet supported.
Why we chose a PWA over a native mobile app
There are three reasons we chose a PWA over native apps:
- Firstly, we wanted to be completely independent of the big tech players. We always preach that you should degoogle. However, you cannot fully degoogle if you still use the Google play store to download our app.
- Secondly, we chose PWA over a native app because of the development costs. Developing one native app for Android and one native app for iOS incurs high initial development costs but also high recurrent costs to maintain two separate apps in the future.
- Finally, native apps are heavier and take up more space on the device. A PWA is lightweight and can function on many devices and screens. All you need is the latest version of your browser. With a PWA we can be really inclusive and allow a wider audience to experience Mailfence on a mobile.
Launching the mobile app is the result of hard work and dedication. We hope you are as thrilled as we are. But this is not the end, this is merely the beginning as we will continue to improve our mobile app by adding many interesting features such as dark mode and support for instant messaging.
– Mailfence Team