Chances are good you’ve been taking advantage of your awesome iCloud suite of features. From iPhone and iPad backups to Photo Stream to syncing documents and data, you’ll find the more options you toggle on in your iOS and Mac OS X iCloud preferences, the easier your life gets. But what about iCloud email? You may already have a Gmail account, or Yahoo, or Hotmail, or Outlook, or any number of services, but should you switch to Apple’s iCloud email? It is definitely worth considering. There are several key advantages, and switching is not actually that hard, so let’s look at 4 reasons why you should switch and finally how you can switch.
Ads and Privacy
Did you know Google reads through your Gmail before you do? Google’s business plan revolves around searching through your email to flag keywords so it can deliver you ads. That way it can support the free service that Gmail is. Not to pick on Google, because nearly every other free email service does the same. If you access your email from a web browser, you are mostly likely providing daily advertiser info culled from your correspondence. I don’t have a huge problem with this, any web page does pretty much the same thing on commercial sites. But what if you want no ads? Suppose you just want to go in and read your mail without engaging in an advertising focus group? iCloud provides ad-free email. Not to over simplify, but Google uses Gmail to attract users with free software, so it can dive into your personal info and serve up ads. Apple’s business model is mainly to sell you new hardware, and to provide free software services to make using and syncing that hardware a great user experience. So iCloud does not need to be ad supported. Again, nothing hugely wrong with ad supported free email services, but once you journey into iCloud’s clean ad-free web email, you may not go back.
Clean Web Interface
iCloud.com offers one of the best web-based user interfaces around. If you have not visited your page at iCloud.com, go take a look. It is classic Apple, clean, clutter free and a joy to use. Be sure to use it on Safari however, using iCloud on various browsers can give slightly different results, but on Safari it runs like a well-oiled machine, er, email program. It also has a fairly robust feature set, so it can pretty much go head to head with your current email web interface.
This may be one of the main reasons I switched, iCloud email is automatically configured on all my Apple devices. From my iPod touch, to my iMac, to my iPad and iPad mini, to my iPhone, as soon as I set up my device and log in with my Apple ID, my iCloud email is ready to go with zero configuration. I often get new Apple devices and reset or update current devices, so it’s very handy to toggle on email sync and not have to worry about doing a separate configuration.
Great Feature Set
From vacation auto-responders, to IMAP support, to redirects, to creating an email alias, iCloud is a very full featured email program. You can do a lot from your iDevice, and you have even more options via the web interface. Want to set up an email alias that you just use for web purchases? It’s easy. Need to set up a vacation reminder and redirect all emails while you are gone to a separate vacation smart folder? It only takes a few steps. Unlike sifting through panels and pages of settings upon settings in Gmail, Apple’s settings are easy to use and implement for normal human beings. You can also set contacts to VIP status, so those who are very important get routed into a separate VIP folder for quick access. As simple and easy as iCloud email is to use, if you check out the settings, there is a lot of power under the hood.
So how do you switch to iCloud email? Well, here is what I did when I switched. In my current email program I set up a forward, so all emails from my old email account got forwarded to my new iCloud.com address. I then added a signature in my iCloud email that had my new iCloud email address and I replied to everyone from my new email. For another older email address that I do not use anymore, I set up a forward but also added a vacation auto-responder, so if anyone emailed me, they would get a notification that I now had a new email address. I actually put a link in the automated response that points to a form on my contact page. The easiest way for most people is to just do a forward for say 6 months or a year, then after a year, turn off the forward and switch to an automated reply message that points to your website, Facebook, Twitter, or some form of contact to connect so they can get your new email.
It’s no secret I love my Apple devices. I use apps, search the web, do my reading, check my email, watch music videos, listen to podcasts, check the news, surf social media, basically do it all effortlessly and so very easily. iOS and Mac OS X has become the hub of my digital universe. It’s funny, from using MobileMe and now iCloud, I have actually been turning more and more of the cloud features on. The last one not turned on was iCloud email. Like most people I had created an iCloud email to use iMessage, but I figured, why not go all the way, and make things easier by just using an iCloud address for my main email. iCloud email has been fast, automatically configured, ad free, not privacy invasive, and provides a clean interface on my Apple devices as well as on the web. I’m sticking with it for now.