We’ve been paying close attention to the feedback about the all-new Spark since our launch last week. It's clear that we didn't succeed at properly communicating several important topics to our existing loyal Spark 2 users.
First of all, I want to apologize for that. It was my personal mistake and I should’ve done a better job at guiding this communication. I will try to directly address several misunderstandings that were born out of insufficient information and answer the most important questions raised.
As a starting point, I want to talk about the new Spark app from the perspective of Spark 2 for Mac users and how I see relationships between those two apps. Then I will focus on why we built the new Spark desktop app and why its design is so different from the Spark 2 for Mac.
- New Spark Desktop (Mac + Windows) is a new app built from scratch. That's why it doesn't yet have all the features present in Spark 2 for Mac. We wanted to bring the all-new Spark to market, so our users could discover a new way of interacting with email. It's a new approach with a fresh interface that prioritizes the features that deliver on two values - removing distractions and focusing on important tasks.
- We are aware that there are some features that many of our Spark 2 users cannot do without - that’s why we made it completely optional on Mac. Until we are confident that Spark 3 meets the needs of the majority of our users, we will support Spark 2 on the Mac App Store and will update it with compatibility fixes for new operating systems like MacOS Ventura.
- Everything you had in Spark 2 is free for you in the new Spark, including features in development - like templates.
- Unfortunately, we missed an error that included the "Sent with Spark" signature every time you compose an email, which then prompted you to upgrade. I’m very sorry for that mistake, it wasn’t our intention. The fixed version is live on Mac and Android and we are waiting for approval on the App Store.
If Spark 3 doesn’t currently fulfill your needs, we encourage you to continue using Spark 2 until we have reached feature parity. Our goal is to make a new Spark Desktop into a product that you enthusiastically switch to from Spark 2 for Mac. Your honest opinion about the product is essential for making that happen faster, and we really appreciate what you have shared with us so far. We continue to listen closely to your feedback.
Now I want to talk about the "whys" behind our major decisions. I believe that it may look to some of you that we did not consider all aspects of the experience in a detailed manner. I hope by sharing the thinking behind the new Spark Desktop you can better understand our perspective.
Why is the new Spark Desktop’s design so different from Spark 2?
We live in an age of information and communication overload, with many applications designed to exploit our attention. Our aim with the new Spark was to hone your focus, and protect your attention, which is why certain design choices were made - such as a hidden navigation bar and a single pane email window. Please read more about the thinking behind the new Spark here.
Why did you replace the design of an always open sidebar and multi-pane windows all at once? What happened to Smart Inbox?
The removal of panes and simplifying of the user interface was chosen to create a more focused approach to email. We anticipated that this would be quite a big change, and so will be introducing the option for an always open sidebar and multi-pane windows on desktop devices. On Android and iOS you already have the option to select which inbox style you prefer by clicking on the inbox name and selecting the inbox type you prefer.
Why did you introduce premium subscriptions to Spark?
In order for Spark to continue to grow and for the company to continue to invest heavily in its development, we needed to adopt a model to allow us to sustain Spark’s growth into the future, without changing the core free functionality of the product. Premium subscription for Spark doesn’t include any of the core features you are used to in Spark 2, which remain free. With Spark Premium we developed additional features to improve inbox prioritization and focus.
When will Spark 3 include all features from Spark 2?
We prioritized the features which solved the biggest problems first and have the following in development:
- Dark Mode and the always open sidebar will be coming shortly.
- 2-pane email, templates, integrations and team functions will be developed in the coming months.
- Calendars is a larger and more complex task, which will be completed within the new year.
For a full overview of Spark 3 features in development - check out the upcoming features here.
How will this work for Spark 2 desktop users?
- If you love Spark 2 on Mac, this version remains unchanged.
- We will continue to support both versions of Spark on Mac for at least a year.
- Free features in Spark 2 remain free in the new Spark 3
How will this work on iOS and Android?
- You can choose your Smart inbox version - Classic, Smart or the new Smart 2.0
- Free features in Spark 2 remain free in the new Spark 3
Why have you built the Electron app?
It was the only way for us to build an app for Windows and Mac at the same time, while staying cost-effective and ensuring timely production. Electron performance in terms of UI might be a bit slower than a native UI, but is not a significant issue when building an email app. Additionally, we invested a lot of time making the UI on Electron faster, and sometimes it’s even faster than our current Spark 2 native app. We will stay vigilant for performance and battery issues - it’s something we are looking for proactively and as we find something, we will fix it.
Above all, what matters most is how you value and experience Spark. Spark 2 has been so well received and we hope for the same with Spark 3 with time. We will remain open to feedback and continue on our mission to make the best email application with your productivity in mind.
Alex Tyagulsky| Readdle co-founder and Head of Spark