Mozilla Thunderbird is coming to Android devices

Mozilla Thunderbird, a free and open-source cross-platform email client, has started seeing a recent resurgence in popularity, which has coincided with Mozilla ramping up development and expanding the team behind the project.

Mozilla Thunderbird has been in existence for 19 years now and was most popular in the 2000s and early 2010s before Mozilla pushed it to the sidelines. At the moment, it looks outdated compared to its modern counterparts, however, what it has as an advantage is that it is lightweight and extremely fast.

The platform is also highly customizable, has the backing of an enthusiast community and a solid track record for user privacy, and furthermore, has the bonus point of being open source.

As part of Thunderbird’s revival, Mozilla has announced plans to bring the mail client to Mobile devices.

Now, since Thunderbird is almost two decades old, duplicating all its features on the mobile platform would take several years at a minimum. To avoid this lengthy process, the team behind Thunderbird has taken the option of adopting K-9 Mail for Android.

K-9 Mail is also an open-source project and is one of the most feature-packed email apps on Android that does not require external servers or proprietary services.

“In 2018, Christian Ketterer and I started talking about how to collaborate, and that conversation evolved into how to create a great, seamless email experience across platforms that was open source and had our projects’ shared values at its heart. The K-9 Mail project aligns perfectly with Thunderbird’s values of using open standards, respecting the user, and enabling power users with unmatched customization. It made sense to work together instead of developing a mobile client from scratch.” says Ryan Lee Sipes, Thunderbird Product Manager

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As time passes, the developers behind the two platforms will transform the existing K-9 Mail app for Android into Thunderbird for Android as part of their vision to offer the open-source community a more powerful and privacy-respecting email experience on mobile devices.

The changes that Mozilla aims to bring to K-9 Mail in the short term include improved folder management, the same account autoconfiguration as Thunderbird on desktop, message filters, and some level of synchronization between desktop and mobile using Firefox Sync.

The team notes other features present on Thunderbird that are non-email including calendars, tasks, feeds etc, will not be in the mobile app at the start, however, they are still debating on how best to port them over.

You can already get the Thunderbird experience by downloading the K-9 Mail app now. However, Mozilla is warning potential users that the interface will likely change a few times as they continue with the development.

Mozilla concludes by mentioning that they also have plans for bringing Thunderbird to the iPhone and iPad. Since K-9 Mail is not available on iOS, it means that the team will have to start from scratch for Apple platforms, or look for another open source mail client on iOS to acquire and use it as a base to kickstart their operations.


Featured image source: It’s FOSS News

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly

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