Mozilla launches email for Android devices

Mozilla today announced a new email client for Android devices called K-9 Mail. The new mobile app is launched as part of Mozilla’s Thunderbird family of open-source desktop email and chat applications.

The Mozilla Foundation said it is also currently evaluating development of a K-9 email client for iOS devices.

K-9 Mail includes improved account configuration using automatic Thunderbird account configuration, improved folder management, message filtering support and synchronization between desktop and mobile versions of Thunderbird, Mozilla said. (K-9 Mail can be downloaded from these various sites.)

“Eventually, K-9 Mail will transform into Thunderbird on Android, once certain development milestones are reached that closely align with Thunderbird’s features and appearance,” K-9 Mail project manager Christian Ketterer said in a blog post. (Ketterer is better known as cketti in the Mozilla open-source developer community.)

Thunderbird is a free and open source email, calendar, news feed, and chat client with over 20 million active monthly users across Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Like Thunderbird, the K-9 Mail project is funded entirely by the Mozilla Foundation community of open source developers.

Currently, Android mobile users have a number of email and chat options, including Google’s Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, and ProtonMail, an end-to-end encrypted email service.

Ryan Lee Sipes, product manager at Thunderbird, said working with the Thunderbird email team to develop the new mobile client made more sense than developing a mobile client from scratch. “Joining the Thunderbird family allows K-9 to become more sustainable and gives us the resources to implement long-requested features and solutions that our users want,” said Sipes. “In other words, K-9 Mail will soar to greater heights with the help of Thunderbird.”

Mozilla plans to offer Firefox Sync as an option that will allow users to securely sync accounts between Thunderbird and K-9. The feature is expected to be implemented in the summer of 2023.

K-9 will look and feel the same as the current Thunderbird desktop app, with the exception of certain features.

Thunderbird for Android doesn’t initially support calendars, tasks, feeds or chats like the desktop app, cketti wrote in a Q&A as part of his blog post. Ketterer said the developer team is working on “a great email experience” first and is considering how best to bring Thunderbird’s other functionality to Android. “But currently [we] are still discussing how we can best achieve that.”

For example, he wrote that one method of using Thunderbird’s desktop email features is to simply sync calendars, after which users can use their favorite calendar application on their device.

“But we need to discuss this within the team and the Thunderbird and K-9 communities, and then decide the best approach,” Ketterer wrote.

Thunderbird is operated by MZLA Technologies. which is a subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation.

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