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Frequently Asked Questions: Thunderbird Mobile and K-9 Mail

Today, we announced our detailed plans for Thunderbird on mobile. We also welcomed the open-source Android email client K-9 Mail into the Thunderbird family. Below, you’ll find an evolving list of frequently asked questions about this collaboration and our future plans.

Why not develop your own mobile client?

The Thunderbird team had many discussions on how we might provide a great mobile experience for our users. In the end, we didn’t want to duplicate effort if we could combine forces with an existing open-source project that shared our values. Over years of discussing ways K-9 and Thunderbird could collaborate, we decided it would best serve our users to work together.

Should I install K-9 Mail now or wait for Thunderbird?

If you want to help shape the future of Thunderbird on Android, you’re encouraged to install K-9 Mail right now. Leading up to the first official release of Thunderbird for Android, the user interface will probably change a few times. If you dislike somewhat frequent changes in apps you use daily, you might want to hold off.

Will this affect desktop Thunderbird? How?

Many Thunderbird users have asked for a Thunderbird experience on mobile, which we intend to provide by helping make K-9 amazing (and turning it into Thunderbird on Android). K-9 will supplement the Thunderbird experience and enhance where and how users are able to have a great email experience. Our commitment to desktop Thunderbird is unchanged, most of our team is committed to making that a best-in-class email client and it will remain that way.

What will happen to K-9 Mail once the official Thunderbird for Android app has been released?

K-9 Mail will be brought in-line with Thunderbird from a feature perspective, and we will ensure that syncing between Thunderbird and K-9/Thunderbird on Android is seamless. Of course, Thunderbird on Android and Thunderbird on Desktop are both intended to serve very different form factors, so there will be UX differences between the two. But we intend to allow similar workflows and tools on both platforms.

Will I be able to sync my Thunderbird accounts with K-9 Mail?

Yes. We plan to offer Firefox Sync as one option to allow you to securely sync accounts between Thunderbird and K-9 Mail. We expect this feature to be implemented in the summer of 2023.

Will Thunderbird for Android support calendars, tasks, feeds, or chat like the desktop app?

We are working on an amazing email experience first. We are looking at the best way to provide Thunderbird’s other functionality on Android but currently are still debating how best to achieve that. For instance, one method is to simply sync calendars, and then users are able to use their preferred calendar application on their device. But we have to discuss this within the team, and the Thunderbird and K-9 communities, then decide what the best approach is.

Going forward, how will K-9 Mail donations be used?

Donations made towards K-9 will be allocated to the Thunderbird project. Of course, Thunderbird in turn will provide full support for K-9 Mail’s development and activities that support the advancement and sustainability of the app.

Is a mobile Thunderbird app in development for iOS?

Thunderbird is currently evaluating the development of an iOS app.

How can I get involved?

1) Participate in our discussion and planning forum.
2) Developers are encouraged to visit https://developer.thunderbird.net to get started.
3) Obtain Thunderbird source code by visiting https://developer.thunderbird.net/thunderbird-development/getting-started.
4) K-9 Mail source code is available at: https://github.com/thundernest/k-9
5) You can financially support Thunderbird and K-9 Mail’s development by donating via this link: https://mzla.link/k9-give.

Thunderbird is the leading open-source, cross-platform email and calendaring client, free for business and personal use. We want it to stay secure and become even better. A donation will allow us to hire more developers, pay for infrastructure, expand our userbase, and continue to improve.

Click here to make a donation

14 responses

M wrote on

> Should I install K-9 Mail now or wait for Thunderbird?
>
> If you want to help shape the future of Thunderbird on Android, you’re encouraged to install K-9 Mail right now. Leading up to the first official release of Thunderbird for Android, the user interface will probably change a few times. If you dislike somewhat frequent changes in apps you use daily, you might want to hold off.

I’m an existing K-9 Mail user, does this mean I should expect the Google Play Store release versions to have a bunch of shuffling?

If so, I’d ask that you continue to use the store’s early access system or consider using a new app id for what will become Thunderbird. People are already using K-9 as a daily driver and need stability, and the chance to choose when a major change is applied to their devices. It’s best that we know now if we should pause updates for the time being to avoid surprises.

Ryan Sipes wrote on

Changes will be incremental. There is nothing planned that should break your workflow. We actually will have a different app id (so new app) for Thunderbird on Android, K-9 will continue to get updated but exist in its own listing.

Lee wrote on

Just make sure you get Spam filtering and Open PGP into it, guys!

Lee

Ryan Sipes wrote on

Lee, these are on the list! May be a while, but we are planning on incorporating these features into K-9.

toastal wrote on

Will the new application remain on F-Droid from a first-party maintainer?

Jason Evangelho wrote on

YES. Catering to our non-Google Play users is just as important.

my wrote on

Will oath2 be prioritized to access gmail accounts?

Ryan Sipes wrote on

It is already being worked on, first project with K-9 as a part of Thunderbird. Currently the oauth implementation is being reviewed by Google and, unfortunately, they are taking their sweet time. Expect a release with this this week or next week (my guess).

tuxayo wrote on

Ho, you are involved in this? What a pleasant surprise to find you there ^^ . Best wishes for all your work and to Thunderbird and K-9 contributors.

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Hi there, do you mean me, the author of the post? Yes, I am Thunderbird’s Marketing Manager!

Óvári wrote on

Will Add-ons for Thunderbird work with K-9?
https://addons.thunderbird.net/

Thank you

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Most likely not, since they’re designed from the ground up for PC and not for Android.

Joyce wrote on

My PC is not Android, it is a Windows operating system. Will Thunderbird email change on Windows?

Jason Evangelho wrote on

Hi Joyce, Android is for phones. Thunderbird on Windows PCs will change — for the better — with constant features and visual improvements 😀

Comments are closed.