Gmail vs. Apple Mail—do popularity and security go hand in hand?

The Gmail vs. Apple Mail battle is always on—which service offers better features, user experience, and data protection? Our in-depth review holds the answer.
Based on statistics from 2023, Apple and Gmail are the two most used email clients in the world, with a user share of 57.97% and 28.13%, respectively. By controlling roughly 86% of the combined market share, they enjoy a monopolistic hold over the digital lives of most of their users.Gmail vs. Apple Mail comparison is nearly a battle of equals because of the core nature of these services. They’re easy to set up on Android/iOS devices and have an almost indispensable quality for average users. Still, the rising concerns about user privacy and data safety standards have made many users question both platforms' security practices.Our comprehensive article outlines the Apple Mail vs. Gmail experience across five crucial factors:
  1. Setup, productivity tools, and customization
  2. Features
  3. User interface
  4. Plans and pricing
  5. Security and data protection
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A quick note on Apple Mail app vs. Gmail

Before we dive into the comparison, know that Apple Mail is an email client that comes with various Apple devices. Gmail is a full-fledged email service used for sending and receiving messages and files that also serves as an email client on mobile devices.The Apple Mail app can be labeled as iPhone Mail, Mailbox, or Mail on different devices. Apple Mail’s default email service is iCloud Mail, but the client can be integrated with other email services like, Microsoft Exchange, Yahoo!, and Gmail. We'll focus on iCloud Mail vs. Gmail services in this article.

Gmail vs. iCloud Mail—setup, productivity tools, and customizations

Gmail is Google’s free email service that can be accessed via any browser or dedicated iOS and Android apps. Setting up an account is fairly simple, but you do have to enter personal information to complete the registration.Gmail integrates with products from Google Workspace (previously G Suite), allowing users access to productivity apps such as Calendar, Docs, Sheets, and Drive.iCloud Mail also gives you an effortless setup, but only on Apple devices. For Android and other platforms that are not attached to an Apple ID, the configuration can be a bit frustrating as you need to create an app-specific password for your iCloud email address for multi-device access. As for productivity tools, an iCloud email can automatically connect with other products within the Apple ecosystem, including iCloud Drive and Calendar.Both Gmail and iCloud Mail have decent customization options and organizational tools for your inbox. To sum it up, Gmail may have a slight edge over Apple’s flagship email because of its straightforward setup process and easy access across all devices.

Gmail vs. iCloud Mail—features

Gmail and iCloud Mail have an array of features that facilitate personal and professional email communication. Both services allow you to customize messages by using various fonts and formats. Other common functions include:
  • Contact integration
  • Search and filter
  • Default and custom folders
  • Collaboration tools
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA) option
  • Multi-device sync
  • Custom domains (with paid plans)
  • Email aliases
  • Default replies
Here are five key feature differences users notice while using Gmail and iCloud Mail:
  1. Spam filtering—Both Apple and Google provide spam filters, but Gmail’s filter may be too aggressive and lack precision. Users have to constantly check their spam folder to ensure an important message didn't end up there
  2. Smart folder categorization—Gmail’s intelligent folder categorization automatically organizes incoming emails into Primary, Promotions, and Social folders, which is useful for task prioritization. Apple is yet to come up with a feature to auto-categorize incoming mail into specific categories
  3. Adding attachments—The process of adding attachments is more straightforward with Gmail than with iCloud Mail. The provider also allows sending password-protected ZIP files
  4. Advanced features—Gmail already has advanced features like email monitoring and confidential messaging, but Apple is catching up with fresh updates
  5. Notifications—Apple Mail offers more advanced notification management than the Gmail app, enabling custom snooze or priority notification options for different email addresses

Gmail vs. iCloud Mail—user interface

Gmail and iCloud Mail have organized and intuitive user interfaces. They offer similar mobile gesture controls for deleting and archiving messages, but iCloud may have better accessibility features thanks to Apple’s 3D Touch technology. Both services are easy to use across different devices.Gmail and Apple have tried to keep their email services clutter-free, but the latter succeeds in presenting a cleaner inbox. It should be noted that Gmail’s smart labels, filter, and overall inbox functions enable you to organize your inbox better and access information more easily, although most users do not use all the customization features available to them.The conclusion is that Gmail works well on all devices, while iCloud Mail may offer a smoother experience on iPhone, iPad, and Mac systems.

Gmail vs. iCloud Mail—plans and pricing

Gmail is free and offers 15 GB of storage to each user. If you need more storage, you have to switch to a Google Workspace paid plan offering an ad-free experience and bundled features for various Google apps.
Source: Google WorkspaceCheck out the different paid subscriptions available for Google Workspace in the U.S.:
PlanPricing (per user/per month)Storage (per user)
Business Starter$630 GB
Business Standard$122 TB
Business Plus$185 TB
iCloud Mail comes with only 5 GB of free storage. You can upgrade to its paid plans for up to 2 TB of storage, which is still significantly lower than Gmail's offer. Like Gmail, iCloud’s paid plans have geographically adjusted pricing. Here’s an example:
Source: AppleBesides the storage aspect, Gmail and iCloud plans are difficult to compare due to features targeting different user groups. Google Workspace plans are more tuned to business needs, while iCloud plans provide a rich experience within the Apple ecosystem.
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Gmail vs. iCloud Mail—security and data protection

Lack of email security, data protection, and privacy in online communication are some of the biggest reasons many users want to wean off Big Tech email services.Both Gmail and iCloud Mail rely on industry-standard encryption protocols like TLS to keep data safe while traveling to the recipient. The problem is that the decryption keys are stored on public servers and can be compromised in the event of a hack. Google and Apple servers are a soft target for data breaches, so these services may not be the most reliable for sharing sensitive data.Gmail and iCloud Mail provide safety features such as two-factor authentication (2FA) and spam filtering—but your data is still vulnerable to server attacks.If you wish to have absolute privacy and control over your messages, opt for secure email services, like Skiff, that provide advanced end-to-end encryption (E2EE). With end-to-end encryption, only the recipient has access to the plaintext copies of your messages. Your emails are encrypted on the user's device while the decryption key is created and stored by the recipient. That way, your data remains protected from third parties like cybercriminals or email and cloud service providers.Know that Apple offers end-to-end encryption as part of its new privacy updates in iOS 16, but it’s only available for iCloud Drive users with the Advanced Data Protection plan—iCloud Mail is excluded from the service.

Security, privacy, or features? You don’t have to choose with Skiff!

Email may not be the most secure medium of online communication, but it is still indispensable. If you like the free-of-cost functionalities of Gmail and iCloud Mail and are looking for a more privacy-friendly alternative—try Skiff Mail. 
Source: Skiff MailSkiff is an end-to-end encrypted email service that ensures no one can access your inbox and stored data. Your content is owned by you and can be viewed only by the users you choose to share it with. Advanced security is achieved with the help of two keys:
  1. Public key shared among users and used for encryption
  2. Private key created and stored on the recipient's device and used for decryption
This ensures no unauthorized third party—not even Skiff—can access your online correspondence.Most privacy-focused email services sacrifice functionality for security, resulting in many users reluctantly staying with the likes of Gmail, Outlook, or iCloud. Skiff changes the narrative by:
  • Introducing a comprehensive E2EE productivity suite that includes Skiff Mail, Skiff Pages, Skiff Calendar, and Skiff Drive to help you optimize your workflow
  • Providing full-featured email services through:
    • Web-based browsers
    • Android, iOS, and macOS apps
  • Designing a clean, intuitive, and easy-to-use interface
Skiff’s product suite (with 10 GB of free storage) is available to anyone who uses the email service. Sign up for Skiff’s free plan today.

Skiff’s free tier—what to expect

Skiff doesn’t put a price tag on security, unlike traditional service providers who leverage privacy to gain paid subscribers. Skiff is also a transparent, open source platform, having made its coding public to ensure users can verify the encryption practices as well as the advanced phishing, malware, and spam filters available.Skiff’s free tier offers the following:
  • Skiff Mail
    • Custom signatures
    • Schedule and undo send
    • Custom labels and folders
    • Up to 4 aliases
    • Multi-device sync
    • Non-gated email search and filter
    • Crypto wallet logins
    • Visual customizations
  • Skiff Pages
    • Real-time collaboration
    • Link sharing
    • Text search
    • Up to 6 workspace collaborators
    • Unlimited pages
  • Skiff Drive
    • 10 GB free storage
    • Per-file upload limit 500 MB
    • Optional decentralized (IPFS) storage
  • Skiff Calendar
    • Auto-syncing with Skiff Mail
    • Encrypted events
    • Shared calendar
    • Secure and integrated video calls
Skiff’s paid tiers start at $3 per month and offer up to 1 TB of storage, custom domains, and other advanced features. Create a Skiff account to start exploring!

Migrate to Skiff with a single click

Migrating to another email service can be complicated and time-consuming. Skiff makes importing your contacts, messages, and cloud data easier with a one-click migration feature.Get a taste of Skiff’s privacy-focused email and productivity suite in three easy steps:
  1. Access the signup page
  2. Create your username and password
  3. Enter your inbox or explore the suite
Skiff implements a zero-knowledge login policy where the provider never asks for, collects, or stores any private user data on its servers, protecting your identity. You can also add a 2FA as an additional security layer.

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