Handle your email faster with our updated Android app

We’ve just released an update to our Android update that has some great new features to help you fly through your email.

First up, we’ve replaced the old “inbox” notification for multiple new messages with a new notification “stack”. Previously if you had multiple new messages, the notification would show a list of senders and subjects, but you couldn’t take any useful action except open the full app. Now the app will show a notification for the latest message, complete with avatar, subject and body preview and you can use the full set of actions on it. Once an action is taken, a new notification appears for the next unread message and so on for the entire stack. In this way you can quickly triage your new mail without leaving your notification tray. Of course, you can still tap on any notification to open it in the app or swipe to remove the entire stack.

Being able to quickly delete, archive or pin a message is great, but sometimes an email will arrive that you can actually deal with with a simple short reply. Notifications now have a “reply” action that will let you write a quick one-line reply without opening the full app. Even better, if you have an Android Wear smartwatch (or a compatible device, such as a Pebble), you can reply directly using the speech recognition feature.

This release also includes a few critical performance improvements, including a fix for the long-standing restart delay.

The updated Android app is now rolling out via Google Play and the Amazon Appstore and should be available on your device within the next day or two.

We’ve had a great time building and testing this update and would love to hear what you think! Please let us know via support or Twitter.

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CardDAV beta for FastMail business and family accounts is here

At the end of last year, we talked about our initial release of CardDAV support into public beta test.

We’re now pleased to announce the next stage of our CardDAV beta release has launched. While previously only available for FastMail personal accounts, we’ve now extended this beta release as an opt-in for FastMail business and family accounts, with a full production release not far off!

Just to quickly recap: CardDAV is an internet protocol for reading, writing and synchronising contact data. It’s already on iOS devices and available as an app for Android. Basically, if you’ve ever wanted to have your FastMail contacts available on your mobile device (and vice-versa), then CardDAV is the answer.

With this ‘cross-device syncing’, CardDAV essentially pulls down contacts from the web server, makes any changes from your mobile device and then copies these back up into the server. With CardDAV syncing all your contacts, it’s much easier to access and manage contacts across all the devices you use to access your FastMail accounts.

Start using CardDAV

If you have a FastMail personal, business or family account, then you can start using CardDAV here.

At the moment CardDAV is only available to Full account levels and higher for personal and family accounts, and Standard and higher for business accounts. Member, Guest and Lite accounts will need to upgrade to be able to use the CardDAV feature.

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XMPP security improvements

We’ve just rolled out an update to our XMPP service to give it the same level of TLS encryption support that you’ll find in our IMAP, POP3 and SMTP services. It now supports TLS 1.2 with modern ciphers. The changes mean we now get an A rating on the XMPP security test.

If you didn’t know we had an XMPP service, or if you don’t know what any of this means, then you can ignore it. Everything should just continue to work!

Our XMPP service has lagged behind our other services for a while because our XMPP server, djabberd, has problems with TLS >1.0 due to deficiencies in Perl’s TLS libraries, and has resisted our best efforts to fix it. We’re hoping to replace it with another server in the next year or two so to avoid having to do a bunch of work that we’d eventually throw out, we decided to follow the same model that we use for IMAP, POP3 and SMTP. We added XMPP support to nginx’s mail proxy, and then let it do authentication and encryption termination, both tasks which it excels at.

Most importantly, nginx is well known as a highly stable and secure TLS server and receives a constant stream of updates. Any improvements we roll out in the future will automatically be applied to the XMPP service as well.

More information about the actual implementation in nginx is at http://robn.io/nginx-xmpp/.

We’re quietly working on modernising our XMPP service. If that’s something you’re interested in then keep an eye on this blog over the next few months.

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FastMail app for Intel-based Android devices now available

Today I pushed an update of the FastMail app that works on Intel-based Android devices. We’ve had a few requests for this as more and more Android devices are now running on Intel CPUs. Happily, the Crosswalk browser engine we use in the app has had Intel support for a long time, so it was just a matter of adjusting our build system to be able to build two different versions of the app.

As usual, its available from the Google Play Store.

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FastMail changelog update

The following changes have been rolled out to production:

  • When you use FastMail’s nameservers for your DNS, one of the default records we publish is an SPF
    record. Until now, we’ve published this as a TXT DNS record type and a SPF DNS record type type.
  • SPF DNS record types have been deprecated (http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7208#section-3.1) for a while, so we’ve now removed the SPF DNS record type and are only publishing TXT DNS records types.
  • This shouldn’t affect anyone, but we’ve put up this post as informational for anyone experiencing some
    issue with ancient software or systems.
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Better security and privacy through image proxying

Today we rolled out a feature that enhances your privacy and security when you use FastMail: all off-site images embedded in emails are now proxied through our servers. Instead of your web browser going out to the wider internet to fetch an image in an email, it will request it securely from our servers and we’ll fetch the image on your behalf. (The original email is never modified, so if you forward it or view it in an IMAP client, it will appear exactly as we received it.)

When your browser requests an image (or any other page) it sends all sorts of information to the web server, including your internet address (which reveals your rough location), the type and version of browser you’re using, and sometimes even tracking cookies and other information that can help identify you. While these things are a fundamental part of how the web works and are difficult to avoid, we know that many of our users don’t like this information to be sent without their knowledge. That’s why we’ve always had protection against this by requiring you to explicitly request that images be loaded for an email.

Now though, we’ve gone one step further. When an image is loaded, the request goes only to our servers, which then go and request the original image. The request comes from the server’s address, with a generic browser type and version and no information at all that identifies the original email or the user requesting it. The image server remains in the dark about where the request came from. That’s a big plus for your privacy.

The other advantage of our new approach is that it removes the possibility of mixed-content warnings appearing in your browser while reading your email. Every web user has had it drilled into them for years that they should look for the padlock icon to know if the site they’re looking at is secure:

happy-proxy

But when you view an email with an image served from an insecure site (as most image hosting sites are), the browser changes the padlock icon to look like this:

sad-proxy

Since all images now come via our secure servers, the padlock will now always remain intact, giving you the confidence that no one is intercepting your data.

Edit: Clarified that the image server cannot see where the request came from. It may still be able to determine who the request came (ie email address validation) if the image URL has some kind of tracking data in it. Its still a marked improvement on not proxying at all, as it can’t be directly correlated with an internet address or other tracking data.

Posted in Feature announcement, News. Comments Off on Better security and privacy through image proxying

FastMail changelog update

The following changes have been rolled out to production:

  • New keyboard shortcut: ";" (semi-colon) opens the "More" menu of a message. You can then use arrow keys + enter to select an option. Use N/P to select a message before the last one in a conversation. More information on keyboard shortcuts is available in our documentation: https://www.fastmail.fm/help/receive/kbshortcuts.html
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