iOS mail app need help

I use the Apple mail app. I set my email so it doesn’t push automatically. Then I changed it to push, but it still seems like there is a delay getting my email. I use aol email address, and a gmail address.

Can anyone recommend a good mail app? Or a way to fix it.

You may have changed the setting to Push in Settings > Mail > Accounts > Fetch new data but this is a global setting and will use push only where available.

Push is unavailable for Gmail accounts (except for Google Workspace accounts!) and will only work using the Mail app with iCloud accounts, Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 (Exchange) accounts. If you dig deeper into the account settings in Fetch new data for Gmail specifically, you will see that the option to Push is unavailable.

There’s a technical reason for this, and it has to do with the way Google and Apple are supporting push for their accounts – Apple chose to support only iCloud and Microsoft Exchange protocols for push email (which is also what Google Workspace is using if you’re paying for it).

You may want to try Spark, for example, which is free and supports push and push notifications for all accounts. Or you may want to install the Gmail app and use that one to get notifications for the Gmail account and continue to use Mail to read the actual messages. There’s also Outlook (free and quite good), but there are some caveats with using it for Gmail accounts (happy to elaborate if needed).


Thank you. I will check out Spark. I might also use the gmail app. I don’t know why Apple and aol, gmail cant just have normal push email. It never bothered me till recently when one email account I have I’m getting the email hours later or I constantly have to refresh it.

But it is what it is.

Thanks again

The issue is that email as a protocol is quite old, and instant push notifications or instant access to email were never a part of any standard. On desktops and Android, push notifications are implemented using the so-called IMAP IDLE, where an email client keeps a constantly open connection to the IMAP server and then downloads new messages as they arrive (and provides notifications).

However, Apple does not allow any apps to keep open connections to servers in this way on iOS: to provide notifications, apps/services have to run their servers that are checking for email on your account and then providing notifications to apps (both Readdle and Microsoft do this, for Spark and Outlook respectively). All notifications on iOS have to go through the iCloud servers; there’s no other way. This means apps can be shut down and closed to optimise for better battery life but still provide instant notifications for new emails.

The downside is that this does not work without a server in-between (and I also should note that this is why a trusted service needs to be used as they are keeping your tokens for email accounts because they need to access them to provide notifications – your client then downloads the messages).

Push does work for Microsoft 365 (Exchange) accounts and Google Workspace accounts as has the Exchange ActiveSync protocol implemented. The issue with ActiveSync – I’m not sure whether that’s still true – was that it is a proprietary Microsoft protocol that had to be licensed and paid for each activation (though I suppose Apple has some licensing deal in place here as they need this working for corporate customers).


Airmail is the best iOS mail app I have found.

Isn’t it a bit buggy the last few years? I used love it but … I had to look elsewhere eventually.

I think it’s quite stable. Not a lot of development in the last 2 or so years. And communication as bad as ever :grinning:

Canary Mail is not as feature rich as Airmail, but worth to test it for yourselves.

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Fastmail will also use push notifications with the iOS mail app as well as its own app.

That’s why I have preferred it for personal email for years.

I used to love Airmail until a couple of years ago when they switched to the subscription model and removed paid features for those who had already bought the app. This was a disaster in communication. :roll_eyes:

Re: Spark. I have often reported bugs and issues (both for Spark and PDF Expert) to Readdle, and all I can say is…

  • They promptly respond (usually within hours, sometimes even quicker)
  • They fix the issues and then get back to those who reported them to check whether everything is working fine now.

I’d say their support is one of the best out there.

there was a rough stretch but I have not had any issues with it for over a year…

I’ve never been comfortable with this, because you end up with copies of all your (for example) Gmail messages on both Google’s and Readdle’s or Microsoft’s servers, which more or less doubles your chances of getting your email hacked. MS doesn’t have a great record of preventing hacks, and I doubt Readdle has anywhere near the infosec resources Google has.

Readdle claims they delete data stored 4 hours after the notification has been sent. They are also using Google Cloud, not their own servers, to store access tokens. I’m not saying that’s ideal but it’s a trade-off all third-party mail clients have to make.

Microsoft is not so clear on their policy regarding Outlook which, once Gmail accounts are added to it, seems to sync absolutely everything to Microsoft cloud first:

In my experience Outlook for iOS will also mess with the contact list by irreversibly changing field names as Microsoft prefers on the added Gmail account, which is why I use Outlook exclusively with M365 accounts.