What’s better than great built-in functionality? How about various added functionalities that you can pick and choose? That’s what K-9 offers; due in large part to its open source approach that allows a variety of development talent to create add-ons or plug-ins for the app. Remind you of Android at all? And it’s not as though K-9 doesn’t have a lot of features as is, what with IMAP push email, search options, multi-folder sync, signatures, flagging, filing, bcc-self, mail on SD, PGP, and more.
But if you’ve already got the email client, we don’t need to tell you about how great it is because you already know. What we are here to talk about today is add-ons that enhance encryption or general security. And the many apps or plugins that can work with K-9 to give you additional notification options. There are also some widgets that work with K-9. We will do our best to discuss the finest options out there.
1. Open Keychain
Based on another app called APG, Open Keychain is all about privacy and security. And in these times, we need all the help we can get (the last email I received was from Yahoo informing me that private information may have been compromised). Open Keychain uses an encryption process that makes certain that only you can read the messages that others send you. This also goes both ways—your emails can be read only by the intended recipients. And for extra security, you can put your digital signature on the message you send so that others can be sure it was you that sent them.
Open Keychain uses OpenPGP (Pretty Good Privacy standard) that manages to keep things secure but is also flexible enough to work on a variety of devices and systems. The app uses an encryption process to convert the email into an indecipherable code to anyone without a key, and no other app can access that key from Open Keychain’s database. But Open Keychain will assist you in searching for the digital keys of others. If you have any questions or doubts as to the trustworthiness of Open Keychain, they open it up to everyone’s scrutiny on the GitHub website.
The app will ask for several permissions, but an explanation is listed for each of them on Google Play. Some user reviews have revealed some dissatisfaction with the handling of keys, while others have given rave reviews of the app.
Download: Open Keychain: Easy PGP
2. Apex Notifier
Apex Notifier can be used in conjunction with both Apex Launcher Pro and DashClock Widget, and K-9 Mail is an app it supports. The Apex Notifier app can now also be used on Android Wear devices as well, but this is more so that you can check your phone’s battery.
Download: DashClock Widget
If you have Apex Launcher Pro, Apex Notifier will display unread email counts using the K-9 icon. First, you will need to enable the Notifier app by going to Settings, then Notification Settings.
Download: Apex Notifier
Download: Apex Launcher Pro
If you plan on using Apex Notifier with DashClock Widget, you will also need to enable the extension to receive notifications for K9. Go to DashClock Extensions, and Add Another Extension, and select Apex Notifier. DashClock allows up to five extensions. But this is the only Android add-on you need for K-9 Mail.
It is important to note that if you install K-9 Mail after you install Apex Notifier, a reinstall of the Notifier app may be required for full functionality. Only through reinstallation will permissions be properly set. Apex Notifier is only guaranteed to work with unmodified versions of Apex Launcher Pro. Additionally, you will want to install Apex Launcher Pro before you install Apex Notifier. When it comes to K-9 Mail, Apex Launcher Pro, and Apex Notifier, Apex Notifier is the app to install last to keep things simple.
3. K-9 Mail DashClock Extension
Speaking of DashClock, K-9 has its extension that will also show how many unread emails you have. You will need to have DashClock Widget installed for this to work, of course. It’s also important for you to be using an updated version of K-9, otherwise marking messages as read might not function; therefore your email count won’t be accurate. Just as it was with Open Keychain, the source code for K-9 Mail DashClock Extension is available for your perusal on GitHub.
If your K-9 emails are organized into different categories (Personal, etc.), this app can also give you an itemized count of how many unread emails are in each section. K-9 Mail DashClock Extension will only show its face when you have unread messages. It’s solely devoted to its mission and won’t bother you otherwise.
Download: K-9 Mail DashClock Extension
Earlier we discussed Open Keychain; now you are about to meet the app that is practically its mother. And who says that parenting can’t be rewarding? Open Keychain was in charge of newer features, but now those same features have been merged into APG.
APG did lay dormant for a while (there was no active development), so it is important that you backup any keys that you have before updating. If you have already lost those keys, you can contact the developer. APG has a new and improved drawer layout and has made some changes for the better in the ways it handles keys. It can integrate beautifully with K-9.
5. K-9 Mail for Smartwatch
If you have a Sony Smartwatch 2, you’re in for a treat. This app will notify you when you have new messages on K-9 Mail. And it’s a lot of useful information at a glance—the time the email was sent, the sender’s name, the subject, and a message preview. At that point, you can use the menu to open or delete your message.
Some complementary apps are necessary. These include Smartwatch 2 W2, Smart Connect, and of course, K-9 Mail. The app will only show you the emails from the Unified Inbox in K-9. In fact, it’s best to disable other accounts or categories by going to Global Settings > Display > Hide Special Accounts. Regardless, this is a great way to manage your emails without even having to dig your phone out, much less your desktop.
Download: K-9 Mail for Smartwatch
6. SMS, My Car & Me
We’ve all encountered that driver, weaving all over the road while reading his or her texts or emails. Don’t be that person! The SMS, My Car, & Me app is one way you can avoid that behavior because it reads your K-9 emails (and more) aloud. The app comes with a money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied. But you will like this Android add-on for K-9 Mail.
If you aren’t ready to commit still, there is a demo version available below. The official app should have little to no impact on battery life. There’s no need to activate the app, but you do need to make sure you have a Bluetooth connection or a headset you can plug in. Then start Google Navigation/Car Home.
Download: SMS, My Car & Me
Download: SMS, My Car & Me DEMO
7. Email Popup
It’s somewhat of a cross between instant messaging, email, and texting. Email Popup displays a window containing the sender’s name and email address, a short message, and options to open, delete, or close your new email. If your phone is sleeping when an email is received, Email Popup does wake the phone and unlock the screen. You have some options for how long you want the popup to display.
You can be discerning about which types of emails you want to receive notifications for. Email Popup comes in handy when you are in a meeting and just need a glimpse to determine who the email is from and what it’s about. Some users find the 30-second maximum to be too short, but like the other apps, the source code is available on GitHub. Care to try your hand at Android development?
Download: Email Popup
8. Go Notifier
Go Notifier is similar to Apex Notifier, but it can be used independently or with Go Launcher Ex. It supports K-9 along with many other applications.
The number of unread messages displays on the app icon. You can select which apps you would like to receive notifications for.
Download: Go Notifier
9. Augmented SmartWatch Pro
This app resembles K-9 Mail for Smartwatch, but it supports more devices (including Android Wear) and offers different features. Augmented SmartWatch Pro’s appearance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, though.
But it does include an Intelligent Quiet Time setting, stealth mode, and Tasker support. You can add customized vibrations, customize your alerts through color or sizing, and retrieve a history of prior alerts.
Download: Augmented SmartWatch Pro
Didn’t find what you are looking for? There are other apps that are very similar to these, but they may be different enough to suit your tastes better. For notifications, there’s also Solo Notifier, Status Bar Notification, KK Notifier. If you are looking for a launcher, Holo Launcher for ICS supports unread email counts for K-9, and an alternative for security and encryption is CipherMail Email Encryption. With the latter, be careful what you complain about in the reviews, as the author/developer seems a little sensitive and is calling people out in the description of the app. Authors/developers have feelings too, but perhaps this could have been handled differently.
What’s your favorite K-9 Add-on? Let us know in comments.