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Why I Stopped Using Blue Mail (Type Mail)

I came across Blue Mail when I was looking for better-than-the-default email clients for my Android device. Pretty interface, handled my IMAP settings well, nifty turn-any-message-into-a-reminder functionality. (The name of the app has since been changed to “Type”.)

No support for aliases or identities was a bummer – the address I want my messages coming from does not exactly match the hostname of my mail server. But when I emailed the support folks about it, I got a quick reply about it coming soon.

Fast forward a few weeks when I was noodling around and wondering what sort of network traffic my phone was doing when I did routine tasks. I ran a tcpdump on my home router to capture some traffic and loaded it up into Wireshark to investigate.

Most of the traffic looked familiar: IMAP and SMTP to my mail servers, HTTP to some web hosts I browsed. But there was a connection to port 10101 on an address that resolved to an AWS host. The payload was garbled – probably TLS. What was it?

This handy StackExchange page gave me the info I needed to find out.

A quick brew install android-sdk and android update sdk --no-ui --filter 'platform-tools' later, I could fire up adb shell and grep for 2775 (hex of 10101 base 10) in /proc/*/net/tcp6 to find the culprit. Another StackExchange page helped me map the UID to the process name. Which was – Blue Mail.

I asked Blue Mail support why the client was connected to this host/port and they said “Blue Mail uses AWS currently for its proxy / push services, which are secured and encrypted.” Then I asked them if I could disable by changing the “Push or Fetch” setting to “Fetch” in my account settings.

This is where things went off the rails a bit. Instead of saying “Yes” or “No, we need to do this for Blue Mail’s awesome features like storing reminders,” I got some enthusiastic but evasive responses about how a client-only solution can’t do things like send scheduled emails when my device is turned off and that “Blue Mail is a modern Email service that will feature dozens of such capabilities”.

I appreciate that the (anonymous) developers of this app have big plans for their service (and that they claim not to store my emails on their servers) but the combination of their evasive responses, no available information about who is actually developing the app (the domain is registered via Domains By Proxy), and an unknown amount of my info flowing to places I don’t control means no more Blue Mail for me.

(Update on February 27, 2015 to include the new name of the app.)