9 Things You Need to Know About Email in iOS 10


BY  BETTINA SPECHT This week, Apple released iOS 10, its brand new mobile operating system, to the public. With iOS Mail accounting fo...


This week, Apple released iOS 10, its brand new mobile operating system, to the public. With iOS Mail accounting for 44% of all email opens, changes to the mobile operating system and its email rendering can make a big difference to the email world. So it’s no surprise that email geeks have monitored upcoming changes to iOS 10 since the early days of its beta test phase. Will the new operating system make our lives easier or will it come with inevitable quirks that often go along with new iOS releases?

But first, let’s get the terms straight:
iOS is Apple’s mobile operating system that runs on both iPhones and iPads. iOS Mail refers to the native Mail app on these mobile devices. Apple’s desktop Mail application, on the other hand, is what we call Apple Mail.
Here’s everything email marketers should know about iOS 10 and the updates it brings to Mail on iPhone and iPad:


Apple joins other major inbox providers, including Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, in supporting list-unsubscribe.

This means subscribers who’d like to unsubscribe from a mailing list can do so without searching for the unsubscribe link in the footer of the email. All they have to do is click the unsubscribe banner on the top of the screen and confirm the unsubscribe in the pop-up. This automatically generates an email notifying the sender that an email address has unsubscribed. If your ESP is set up to process list-unsubscribe requests on your behalf, the email address will be removed from the mailing list automatically. If not, you’ll have to manually process the opt-out request and remove the subscriber from your list within the timeframe required in your location.

Many ESPs automatically add the list-unsubscribe header to every email that is sent through their platforms. List-unsubscribe headers can contain two methods:
  • A mailto unsubscribe 
    This is the email address that will receive the unsubscribe requests that we saw in the example above
  • An unsubscribe URL
    A link that will take the subscriber to a landing page, perhaps a subscription center.
In contrast to Gmail, iOS Mail only supports the mailto: version of the unsubscribe header. If your unsubscribe header contains a link, the unsubscribe banner will not be displayed.
At first sight, list-unsubscribe might look like a disadvantage to email marketers. The unsubscribe banner is one of the first pieces of content subscribers will see when opening your message, and it also moves the content of your email even further down the screen. With that in mind, it is likely that we’ll see an increase in unsubscribes coming from iOS Mail users.
In the long-term, however, list-unsubscribe can help improve your campaigns:
  • A prominent unsubscribe option makes it easy to keep your list clean. 
    Nobody likes to see their subscribers leave, but some people may lose interest in your messages over time—and that’s okay. List-unsubscribe helps to make sure you’re only sending email to people who really want to hear from you.
  • List-unsubscribe can help reduce spam complaints. 
    Too often, when subscribers can’t find the unsubscribe link, they will instead click the spam reporting button to get rid of email they don’t want to receive anymore, hurting your deliverability. The unsubscribe banner makes unsubscribing a more obvious option, and can thus help prevent people from hitting the dreaded “mark as spam”.


Email marketers weren’t amused when Apple stopped supporting the HTML5 <video> tag with the launch of iOS 8 back in 2014. While many email geeks thought—or hoped—that this was just a temporary bug to be fixed soon, Apple did not make any changes for a very long time. Neither updates to iOS 8 nor the release of iOS 9 changed the missing support of HTML5 video.
With the launch of iOS 10, Apple brings back support for HTML5 video, allowing email designers to embed videos directly into the email.
Similar to Apple’s desktop application, Mail on iPad allows for videos to play right within the email. iOS Mail on iPad displays a play button on video content, and as soon as a reader hits the button, the video plays right within the body of the email, and even keeps playing as the reader scrolls through the message.

In contrast to Apple’s desktop and iPad application, however, videos in Apple’s iPhone client don’t play inline. Instead, when hitting the play button, the video starts playing in full-screen mode.

While iOS doesn’t allow for videos to be played directly within the content of the email, it still makes video content more accessible. Without HTML5 video support, email marketers had no choice but to send their subscribers to a landing page to view video content. With HTML5 support, the video content displays in a separate full-screen window, but it takes subscribers back to the email once they’ve finished viewing it.
Email marketers who’d like to include moving elements directly within the mailing must still rely on CSS animations or animated GIFS. Also, advanced techniques like using a video background in email is not possible in iOS 10.
For many brands, video content plays a key role in their marketing strategy, but the limited support in email made it hard to take full advantage of this powerful medium. With video support returning for iOS 10, email marketers might now consider adding video content back to their toolkits—despite of the limitations mentioned above. However, remember to have fallbacks in place for where HTML5 video isn’t supported.


iOS 10 brought changes to how it auto-scales email in its mobile email client. Even responsive emails can thus appear to be zoomed out or off-centered.

Source: Remi Parmentier, GitHub
Email developer Remí Parmentier has put together a list of autoscaling bugs he encountered in iOS 10, and points out that adding a “padding:0;” to the <body> tag of your email is a great fix in case your email doesn’t scale correctly.
<body style="padding:0">
It looks like the Apple team is already aware of this bug and is working on a fix. In the meantime, Apple Mail engineer James Magahern suggests to disable auto-scaling completely. Here’s the fix:
<meta name=”x-apple-disable-message-reformatting>


In web design, iframes are often used to embed external content, like forms or videos, into a website. But since iframes often rely on JavaScript, most email clients do not support their use in email.
iOS Mail, however, was one of the very few email clients to offer limited support for iframes. For example, while it wasn’t possible to embed a web page that had JavaScript, you could use iframes to embed basic HTML and CSS into an email. In some edge cases and for very advanced campaigns, <iframe> could be leveraged as a way to deliver dynamic content. With no support for it in iOS 10, this approach is no longer possible.


Even though position:fixed; was only supported in a limited number of email clients, it was a handy tag that allowed for creative effects and interactive email. In Taco Bell’s fantastic breakfast journey email, for example, fixed positioning was used to mimic movement of elements within the email as the reader scrolled to the bottom of the message.
iOS was one of the clients that offered support for fixed positioning in the past, but with iOS 10 this is no longer the case. Without iOS, the support for fixed positioning is so limited that building campaigns that rely on this technique simply doesn’t make sense anymore.


Now, the good news:
With screen sizes of 4.7 inches for the iPhone 7 and 5.5. inches for the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple’s new phones have the exact same size as their predecessors (iPhone 6 and 6 Plus). Also, the resolution hasn’t changed, with 1334×750 and 1920×1080 pixels for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, respectively. As a result, all media queries that were set up for the iPhone 6 family will work just as well for the newest phones.
iPhone 7 (Zoom View):
 @media screen and (max-device-width: 320px) and (max-device-height: 568px) { /* Insert styles here */ }
iPhone 7 (Standard View) and iPhone 7 Plus (Zoom View):
@media screen and (max-device-width: 375px) and (max-device-height: 667px) { /* Insert styles here */ }
iPhone 7 Plus (Standard View):
@media screen and (max-device-width: 414px) and (max-device-height: 776px) { /* Insert styles here */ }


Remi Parmentier also found that we can use @supports declarations in CSS to target iOS 10. We can target iOS with the proprietary property “-webkit-overflow-scrolling” that is only supported on iOS. If we use this in combination with one of the properties introduced in iOS 10’s Webkit version— #RGBA color notations, for example—we can specifically target iOS 10.
Here’s a media query that will target iOS 10:

@supports (-webkit-overflow-scrolling:touch) and (color:#ffff) {
/* Insert CSS here */


Previously, iOS Mail shared a menu setting with Apple’s calendar and notes app. With iOS 10, the email app gets its very own space in the iPhone settings. Here, Apple users can:
  • Adjust the number of lines they’d like to display for preview text
    iOS 10 Mail displays two lines of preview text by default on iPhone 6 and three lines on iPhone 6 Plus—and it is likely that we’ll see the same settings for iPhone 7 as well. In the Mail settings, however, users have the opportunity to change the number of lines of preview text they’d like to see by default. Apple allows its users to see up to five lines of preview text, or to even disable preview text completely.

  • Block images by default
    Images on iOS 10 Mail are enabled by default, but similar to iOS 9, users can change the settings to block images by default instead. If a user decided to not load images, they’ll see a banner at the top of each mailing that allows images to load once the email has been opened.


With a market share of 44%, a significant portion of emails are being opened on Apple’s mobile email app. With the release of iOS 10, these stats might change. For the first time ever, Apple gives its customers the freedom to delete pre-installed apps, including iOS Mail app.

Since iOS Mail, with it’s strong support for HTML emails, has traditionally been one of our favorite rendering engines, this could be bad news for email designers. Having the option to delete iOS Mail from their phones, Apple users might be more likely to switch to other email apps, such as Gmail.
Email marketers will have to monitor subscriber opens to see if there’s any movement. If so, this can mean shifting design and testing efforts towards other, maybe more challenging email clients.



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9 Things You Need to Know About Email in iOS 10
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