[APP][5.0+] FairEmail - Fully featured, open source, privacy oriented email app

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Oswald Boelcke

Senior Moderator / Moderator & RC-RT Committees
Staff member
Wouldn't it be better to remove @Dr-Bob as a whole. Dr-Bob was clearly created yesterday with the sole purpose to escalate this situation and to get on Marcels nervs. It reminds me off this Mr kouch, Chef koch character(i don't remember the exact name) in the XprivacyLua thread a couple off years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same person.
He will open a new account and it would continue. I mean really, only ignoring helps.
Thanks very much for your concerns. As much as @M66B Marcel is and has always been friendly and polite, we don't want to appear like a "XDA police". We don't censor XDA but we evaluate every post we become aware of against the forum rules and only against these rules; if a post violates the rules it gets partially or completely removed. And our policies task us to more mediate than to moderate i.e. we start with a friendly conversation, friendly and polite like Marcel, to give everybody a chance to be a valuable member on XDA. Most of the times we succeed with this approach but sometimes we don't achieve this objective. And it's different from case to case, how quickly we do realise that this objective will never been achieve.
 

gvamp

Senior Member
Dec 25, 2015
99
52
Stuttgart
I use this Mail Client since a year or so as free version and it's a giant. I rated a 5* today and hope this helps a little bit. Regarding the 3 or less star receptions, I have to say that these are very rare and most times from simple people, you can't avoid this. The rating is at 4.8 and HELL, this is fantastic. I don't know, if any other app with many ratings and such a good sum exist anyway. Please, @M66B , don't make so much pressure for yourself. All the best to your girlfriend and you. Have a nice day. YOUR APP IS AWESOME !!!
 

sqwrl

New member
May 21, 2022
2
0
@M66B Thank you for your excellent software. Bought Pro on FairEmail only a week ago after having used it for years, just to say thanks. Glad now I did. I would be very happy to support you via non Google means going forwards if that is what you choose.
 

Donislawdev

Member
Feb 25, 2017
12
5
The few euros I receive in return for what's being offered and the fun of developing things are no compensation for the thousands of questions I answer every month, for unfair Play store reviews and for stress about unclear Google requirements.
Hello, I would like to thank you a lot for your great work, I got the PRO version of NetGuard + FairEmail, and they are both great apps, thank you a lot for developing them, and support.

I think you should just stop caring about Play store reviews, there will always be someone unhappy, that's normal. But I know it's hard. Remember that the apps are 100% open source/free (no ads/IAP, there is only paid PRO version), so you don't need to keep up with the user's support, you got your own life, and developing apps just takes a lot of time, when support consume probably a lot more time :-}


If you need a break you should take it, I know it can be hard, but you are a great developer, which had given Android users are a lot of awesome apps, I hope you will stay with us :-}
 

M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,029
56,099
This is the message I just received from Google:

As previously advised, your app, FairEmail, privacy aware email (eu.faircode.email) on open testing track for APK version 1898 is uploading users' Contact List information:

  • without posting a privacy policy in both the designated field in the Play Console and from within the Play distributed app itself
  • without an adequate prominent disclosure
Please kindly note that a valid privacy policy must be posted in both sections; the designated field in the Play Console and from within the app as well. Your privacy policy must disclose the types of personal and sensitive data the app accesses, collects, uses, and shares; and any parties with which any personal or sensitive user data is shared (e.g: users' contact list information).

Prior to the collection and transmission, you must provide an in-app disclosure that prominently highlight how the user data will be used, describe the type of data being collected and have the user provide affirmative consent for such use. Please include the uploading of users' Contact List information in your prominent disclosure to fix this issue.

Please make sure to deactivate the non-compliant APK version 1898 (open testing track) and increment the version number of APK before resubmitting your app for further review. Kindly note that all active versions of your app must be compliant with our policies including all release types (e.g. Internal test, Closed, Open).

You may read this article that describes the best practices for providing prominent disclosure. You can learn more about prominent disclosure and privacy policy requirements in the Developer Policy Center or in this video. You can also read through the personal or sensitive user data page for more details.

As much as I'd like to help, I’m not able to provide any more detail or a better answer to your question. In our previous email, I made sure to include all the information available to me.

If you have a different question about the Developer Program Policies, please let me know. Thanks for your continued support of Google Play.

The bigger font was in the original message highlighted.
 

M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,029
56,099
I thought a human had contacted u and set up a call for Tuesday. Does this message supercede the call?
The email "conversation" is the "official" developer communication channel and the human who will be calling me (Policy and Privacy department) is an out of band channel. The purpose of the call is to "answer any questions you may have". So, what that will bring remains a question mark for now.
 
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mkasimd

Senior Member
Apr 7, 2021
189
371
Düsseldorf
@M66B it needs a lot of nerves and patience to escalate things and escape from the 1st level support stupidity.
That one depends on the company. But in large corporates, that's the case unfortunately.

I'm glad it's totally different at my workplace. The first level guys are required to say "sorry, I don't know the answer to this. I'll redirect your request and we will get back to you shortly". Because that one action makes the difference between trying to solve an issue (customer's problem) or trying to get rid of the issue (the customer himself).

It's tiring when a company thinks of the customer as an issue to get rid of instead of looking into the problem the customer faces as the issue to solve. And corporates tend to act so.

That's among the reasons I prefer SMBs (small/medium businesses) over corporates whenever alternatives exist. Even if the SMB alternative costs slightly more. If you get better service, it's worth every penny. Too bad, Google has a de-facto monopoly over the Android Apps store business.. I'll refrain from any too political statement, but there's a lot politics (especially on EU level) could do to ensure customer rights are upheld in such situations..

I hope your phone call on Tuesday works better, @M66B. Talking to a real person on the phone makes a huge difference compared to writing letters. But you should prepare a cheat sheet with several keywords and key arguments on it before the call. Because trust me, Google will be prepared to face you and you will need to argue well even if put under some form of pressure or if the person on the phone tries to control the flow of your conversation. I wish you good luck and thanks for doing this!
 

M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,029
56,099
...

I hope your phone call on Tuesday works better, @M66B. Talking to a real person on the phone makes a huge difference compared to writing letters. But you should prepare a cheat sheet with several keywords and key arguments on it before the call. Because trust me, Google will be prepared to face you and you will need to argue well even if put under some form of pressure or if the person on the phone tries to control the flow of your conversation. I wish you good luck and thanks for doing this!

I am prepared, I only want answer to three simple questions:
  1. Which contact info is being sent?
  2. When is it being sent?
  3. To where is it being sent?
I am not going to argue or pressure anyone and just see where this goes.
 

yasd4711

New member
May 21, 2022
1
1
@M66B Hi Marcel, thank you very much for providing such a great email app. A while ago I was looking for an email app that supports S/MIME certificates. FairEmail was the only app that I've found. And I was impressed by the privacy features. The need to acknowledge the URL when clicking on a link. The automatic suppression of tracking images. I let me feel more safe using email at all.

It's extremely bitter that Google accuses this very app to be spyware.

I absolutely do understand your frustration. About this accusation, Googles non-handling of it, and about unqualified and rude user comments, too. And about the permanently changing intransparent policies, of course. Not to mention the high-frequent API updates from one beta stuff to the next alpha version, and so on. Plus vendors producing their own device-dependent botch (e.g. battery optimization).

Android's success is primarily grounded on the work of "small" developers that produced tons of apps for free. And, yes, pro-features for roundabout 5 € are even for free IMHO - it's not "paid" or "bought" (most people cannot even image how much work it is to write an app). Now, that their job is done, Google is going to get rid of them. All these policy changes, API updates, vendor quirks and legalese cannot be handled by a single person or a small team, especially not in their spare time.

IMHO nowadays your app and team must be big enough to get whitelisted within Android to work correctly. Very sad.

I'm sadly missing a real open-source operating system for smartphones, or even better an open-source smartphone. Maybe it's time to return to a dumb phone.

Once again, thanks for your effort and all the best to your girl-friend and you.

P.S.: I've dropped a very, very small but appreciated app for similar reasons, too. After withdrawing it from the store I wanted to delete my developer account and had to learn that it's not possible. Contacting Google was a similar loop of policy repetition. It seems to be unlawful to me that I cannot delete my account but it's not worth the effort to prove it. The reasoning by Google that the account cannot be deleted because users may sill reload the app technically doesn't make sense to me. I think it could be solved differently if they wanted.
 
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M66B

Recognized Developer
Aug 1, 2010
26,029
56,099
App läuft einfach / sehr gut. Der Winamp unter den Mail Clients. 👍😉 ...was soll das, die app aus Trotz gegenüber Google, aus dem Playstore zu nehmen? Ich habe für den E-MAIL Client Geld bezahlt und würde ihn auch gerne weiterhin auf dem nächsten Smartphone nutzen. Sollte ich in Zukunft nur noch den anderen Softwareschrott benutzen dürfen, gehe ich weg aus dem Android - Ökosystem. Das ist doch echt KINDERGARTEN hier.

Link

This is after I have explained the situation :-(
 
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Itcouldbeyou

Member
May 14, 2010
29
21
I am prepared, I only want answer to three simple questions:
  1. Which contact info is being sent?
  2. When is it being sent?
  3. To where is it being sent?
I am not going to argue or pressure anyone and just see where this goes.
Maybe it is a dumb question. But did Google properly understand that you don't think you violate their Code? Maybe you should sprinkle an "allegedly" into your 3 points. Sure it would make no sense to ask Google where, when and what is sent if "you coded the malicious feature". But the people responding are probably not the best paid people. And I think they have to answer to a lot of dumb and malicious people.
 

truephoenix

New member
May 21, 2022
2
9
Hello,

I am also a (so far) very satisfied user of FairEmail. After suddenly not finding FairEmail in the Google Playstore anymore, I came across the Golem news article and forum here.

Just an amateur assessment from me (I can of course also be completely wrong!):

It seems to me that Google and M66B are "talking past each other". As I understand it, Google only complains that there is no privacy policy or that it does not contain all the relevant information. This is probably necessary as soon as the app sends any data (which every email app does). Not to mention favicons, third party services or pro versions linked to an account / email.

- without posting a privacy policy in both the designated field in the Play Console and from within the Play distributed app itself

- without an adequate prominent disclosure

Source: https://forum.xda-developers.com/t/...vacy-oriented-email-app.3824168/post-86923901

And at least I think FairEmail's privacy policy is really a bit "short":

For comparison, the very detailed privacy policy from Aqua Mail

Perhaps you can compare the two privacy policies (including the areas of payment and third-party services) and see what else FairEmail needs to do to satisfy Google.
 
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  • 2
    The challenge is to put this in CSS because modifying a message is not an option because there will be many edge cases because CSS/HTML is pretty complex. The reformatted messages view as it is now was months of work and it is still not perfect and will never be because that would mean developing a browser.

    At this moment I will keep everything as simple as possible having heard today that the average life expectancy of my mother is one month. Intensive chemo therapies might help (30% chance) and radio therapy is being investigated out of normal treatment strategies. I am feel pretty down right now.
    Of course, you should be with your mother. Me suggesting something doesn't mean I expect you to commit something the next hour. Your own life has a higher priority than your projects, and it's completely fine if you do not push any commits for the next month.

    But generally speaking, you do not need to implement the logic part through CSS. The conditions when to place the "fake dark" can be set via Java first, thus only inserting "fake Dark CSS" if the conditions are met.

    Of course, that comes with complexity as well as increasing the possibility of bugs. It also won't be 100 % correct. It is a "feasible estimate", or an heuristic approach if one wants to call it that way.

    That also means that there are valid reasons to not implement it at all. Especially taking in consideration the amount of time you have to put into implementing a near-complete "fake dark" which won't be used anymore if Google updates their Androidx library to include the original method back again (hopefully).

    In corporate language, we'd call it "it's not feasible to invest more time and resources in this, so it won't be implemented". Which is fine. As a "product owner", that's up to your judgement :)

    P.S.: I hope the chemo helps. With a family friend of mine, it helped her and she has gotten rid of cancer. So, it's not always as "useless" as the probability rate suggests. Stay strong!
    1
    The challenge is to put this in CSS because modifying a message is not an option because there will be many edge cases because CSS/HTML is pretty complex. The reformatted messages view as it is now was months of work and it is still not perfect and will never be because that would mean developing a browser.

    At this moment I will keep everything as simple as possible having heard today that the average life expectancy of my mother is one month. Intensive chemo therapies might help (30% chance) and radio therapy is being investigated out of normal treatment strategies. I am feel pretty down right now.
    Strength and prayers. We will all also pray. Best wishes
    1
    Of course, you should be with your mother. Me suggesting something doesn't mean I expect you to commit something the next hour. Your own life has a higher priority than your projects, and it's completely fine if you do not push any commits for the next month.

    But generally speaking, you do not need to implement the logic part through CSS. The conditions when to place the "fake dark" can be set via Java first, thus only inserting "fake Dark CSS" if the conditions are met.

    Of course, that comes with complexity as well as increasing the possibility of bugs. It also won't be 100 % correct. It is a "feasible estimate", or an heuristic approach if one wants to call it that way.

    That also means that there are valid reasons to not implement it at all. Especially taking in consideration the amount of time you have to put into implementing a near-complete "fake dark" which won't be used anymore if Google updates their Androidx library to include the original method back again (hopefully).

    In corporate language, we'd call it "it's not feasible to invest more time and resources in this, so it won't be implemented". Which is fine. As a "product owner", that's up to your judgement :)

    P.S.: I hope the chemo helps. With a family friend of mine, it helped her and she has gotten rid of cancer. So, it's not always as "useless" as the probability rate suggests. Stay strong!
    We still have some hope. The possibility of radio therapy was a positive surprise.

    I would like to implement a "fake dark" for Android before version 10, but I am afraid it will be hit and miss. Setting conditions in Java means parsing and evaluating both CCS and HTML, in other words this will be rather complex (like a browser).
    1
    We still have some hope. The possibility of radio therapy was a positive surprise.

    I would like to implement a "fake dark" for Android before version 10, but I am afraid it will be hit and miss. Setting conditions in Java means parsing and evaluating both CCS and HTML, in other words this will be rather complex (like a browser).
    True that. If the sender applied the background on the body Tag only, it'd be somewhat manageable to check the HTML and CSS for the background's value, but it's also quite possible that the sender used various div or span levels, and the background styling within the div or span or within the CSS for the div or span. Looking into the various levels of div and span to determine whether it virtually covers most parts of the message will be very complex.

    But without doing that, it'd be a solution that somewhat works sometimes, but won't work properly many other times. Or you'd have to parse the HTML and CSS similarly to how a browser does, as you rightly describe.

    You coded a great mobile alternative to Thunderbird, but no need to compete with Mozilla on the browser front as well, right? 😉

    Jokes aside, browsers indeed are highly complex pieces of software. Perhaps you could add an FAQ pointing to this XDA thread showing why the dark mode doesn't work in the original message view for Android 9 and lower as well as why you cannot just implement an own alternative to it. That would at least answer:
    • Why doesn't it work? (Google removed the required method from the Androidx libraries, so the dark mode is only available within the libraries available since Android 10 now)
    • Why can't you re-implement it? (You'd have to virtually parse the entire HTML & CSS for this to work properly. That's rather complex, similar to a browser. So, it's just not feasible to implement it)
    • Will Google re-introduce the removed method? (You have asked Google about it and hope they will, but it's not likely to happen if the removal was intentional)
    Maybe even just un-crossing FAQ #81 and writing it there? 🤔

    P.S: I can also add it into the FAQ and send a pull request, if you can't do it in the next few days.
    1
    True that. If the sender applied the background on the body Tag only, it'd be somewhat manageable to check the HTML and CSS for the background's value, but it's also quite possible that the sender used various div or span levels, and the background styling within the div or span or within the CSS for the div or span. Looking into the various levels of div and span to determine whether it virtually covers most parts of the message will be very complex.

    But without doing that, it'd be a solution that somewhat works sometimes, but won't work properly many other times. Or you'd have to parse the HTML and CSS similarly to how a browser does, as you rightly describe.

    You coded a great mobile alternative to Thunderbird, but no need to compete with Mozilla on the browser front as well, right? 😉

    Jokes aside, browsers indeed are highly complex pieces of software. Perhaps you could add an FAQ pointing to this XDA thread showing why the dark mode doesn't work in the original message view for Android 9 and lower as well as why you cannot just implement an own alternative to it. That would at least answer:
    • Why doesn't it work? (Google removed the required method from the Androidx libraries, so the dark mode is only available within the libraries available since Android 10 now)
    • Why can't you re-implement it? (You'd have to virtually parse the entire HTML & CSS for this to work properly. That's rather complex, similar to a browser. So, it's just not feasible to implement it)
    • Will Google re-introduce the removed method? (You have asked Google about it and hope they will, but it's not likely to happen if the removal was intentional)
    Maybe even just un-crossing FAQ #81 and writing it there? 🤔

    P.S: I can also add it into the FAQ and send a pull request, if you can't do it in the next few days.


    Updated FAQ:

    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/blob/master/FAQ.md#user-content-faq81

    The fake dark option keeps being available though (edit: default disabled).
  • 23
    Version 1.1923 1.1924 is available on GitHub now and in the Play store test program after Google's approval.

    Changelog/download:
    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/releases

    The option to suppress notifications while on a call (recently added) has been replaced by delaying notifications until after having ended the call instead. This way there isn't a risk that important new messages will be missed or seen too late. This option is available on Android 12 and later only because earlier Android versions do not have the requires APIs.
    20
    Quite some people asked my opinion about Thunderbird / K9 mail joining.

    I wish them good luck because we need privacy friendly apps. The author of K9 mail seems a nice guy to me, and even contributed a few lines of code and some constructive feedback to FairEmail. I hope he'll find a nice place in the Mozilla organization.

    That said, the concept of FairEmail is somewhat different than of Thunderbird / K9 mail. One of the things I read about is deep integration between the Thunderbird desktop / mobile app. The concept of FairEmail is to be standalone and not to depend on any service. Maybe in some way the apps are competitors, depending on the way you look at them, but in the end the goal is similar, offering a decent and privacy friendly app, at least I hope that this keeps being the goal of Mozilla. Of course a lot more can be said, but the apps just have a different character, which you might or might not like.
    19
    Version 1.1907 is available on GitHub now and in the Play store test program after Google's approval.

    Changelog/download:
    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/releases
    18
    Version 1.1925 is available on GitHub now and in the Play store at some time in the future, hopefully.

    Changelog/download:
    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/releases

    This version was released to fix a crash. You are advised to update soon.
    18
    Version 1.1914 1.1915 is available on GitHub now.

    Changelog/download:
    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/releases

    All changes required or desired for Android 13 have been done now.
    Now that this has been done and given my personal situation, there will be bug fix releases only for now.
  • 237
    ic_launcher.png

    FairEmail
    Open source, privacy friendly email app for Android

    banner7_long.png


    See here for a description:
    https://github.com/M66B/open-source-email/

    See here for screenshots:
    https://email.faircode.eu/#screenshots

    Downloads:
    https://github.com/M66B/open-source-email#user-content-downloads

    Frequently asked questions:
    https://github.com/M66B/open-source-email/blob/master/FAQ.md

    Please read this before requesting a new feature:
    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/blob/master/FAQ.md#user-content-get-support

    This XDA thread is about using the latest version of FairEmail.

    For support on authorizing an account you should consult the documentation of your provider, see also here.

    Off topic comments are allowed as long they are related to FairEmail and are in the general interest of the followers of this thread.

    Discussion of purchases is not allowed here, please contact me via here instead.
    68
    How was the call with Google today, Marcel?

    Google was pretty friendly and cooperative and told me the favicons are indeed the problem, and it can/should be fixed by updating in the privacy policy to "disclose how your app accesses, collects, uses, and shares user data":

    Privacy Policy​

    All apps must post a privacy policy in both the designated field in Play Console and within the app itself. The privacy policy must, together with any in-app disclosures, comprehensively disclose how your app accesses, collects, uses, and shares user data, not limited by the data disclosed in the Data Safety section. This must include:
    • developer information and a privacy point of contact or a mechanism to submit inquiries
    • disclosing the types of personal and sensitive user data your app accesses, collects, uses, and shares; and any parties with which any personal or sensitive user data is shared
    • secure data handling procedures for personal and sensitive user data
    • the developer’s data retention and deletion policy
    • clear labeling as a privacy policy (e.g., listed as “privacy policy” in title)
    The entity (e.g., developer, company) named in the app’s Google Play listing must appear in the privacy policy or the app must be named in the privacy policy. Apps that do not access any personal and sensitive user data must still submit a privacy policy.

    Please make sure your privacy policy is available on an active URL (no PDFs) and is non-editable.

    So, I have updated the privacy policy and added this new table:

    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/blob/master/PRIVACY.md#summary-of-shared-data

    I am not sure if it covers everything, so feedback is more than welcome. @mkasimd maybe you can take a look?

    Note that I have also enabled BIMI, Gravatars, Libravatars and favicons for the Play store version again.

    The short term goal is to release a Play store test version (and associated GitHub version) and to get the update approved. I will think about the next steps after this has been accomplished. Given the huge number of supportive messages I received (much appreciated!) the project will be continued in some form in any case.
    49
    Version 1.1900 is available on GitHub now and in the Play store test program after Google's approval (which is the main goal of this release).

    Changelog/download:
    https://github.com/M66B/FairEmail/releases

    My girlfriend is slowly recovering too :)
    46
    It is time for a new, modern, open source, privacy friendly email client for Android.

    I have just released a first alpha version for feedback on the design and features.

    Not for production use yet!

    Most of the stuff basically works, but be prepared for crashes and error notifications.


    Safe email is a working name, but it is for several reasons not a convenient name, so suggestions for a name are welcome.
    37
    I have just released alpha version 0.15

    Changelog/download:
    https://github.com/M66B/open-source-email/releases

    With a bit of luck the next version can be a beta version.

    I am putting a lot of effort into this project, so thanks are appreciated.