Apple Mail’s new tabs in iOS 18: better late than never?

3 min

Apple revealed multiple new iOS features at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024. The event’s highlight for email marketers was the announcement that tabs will be introduced to Apple Mail in iOS 18.

What’s new in iOS 18 Mail?

The Mail app in iOS 18 is set to feature “on-device categorization,” a system that sorts incoming emails into distinct categories: Primary, Transactions, Updates, and Promotions.

This feature isn’t new for Gmail users who are used to Gmail’s tabbed inbox, which has been well-received overall. That’s because it reduces user clutter and enhances email management.

When and where will this update be available?

The iOS 18 update, including the new Mail features, is expected to roll out in September. 

This feature will initially be exclusive to iOS devices, meaning it will only affect users who check their emails on iPhones and iPads.

There is speculation that Apple might roll out this feature on MacOS later on, but no official timeline was provided during the event.

How will on-device categorization work?

The Mail app will categorize emails into different tabs. Critical emails, such as flight confirmations and meeting updates, will be prioritized in the Primary tab. In contrast,  marketing emails and newsletters will be directed to the Promotions tab.

Apple executive presenting new tabbed inbox feature for Apple Mail in iOS 18 at WWDC 2024

This system is designed to help users quickly find important information and manage their inboxes more efficiently.

Who benefits from this update?

Users will primarily benefit from this feature, which provides a more organized and user-friendly email experience. This enhanced user experience might boost open rates and click-through rates, from which email marketers can benefit.

Why is Apple introducing this feature?

The focus here is user experience. Apple has probably learned from the success of popular apps like Gmail and Outlook and is trying to meet the standards.

Their aim is probably to reduce inbox clutter and make it easier for users to find and prioritize their emails. 

Impact on email deliverability

Marketers initially expressed concern when Gmail introduced its tabbed inbox in 2013, fearing that emails landing in the Promotions tab would suffer lower engagement rates. 

We saw a decrease in open rates back in 2013 when Google introduced tabs to Gmail. However, conversion rates weren’t significantly affected and even improved in many cases. And open rates eventually recovered.

Michał Leszczyński
Head of Content Marketing & Partnerships – GetResponse

Our data and email benchmarks have shown increased open rates and CTR over the years.

Moreover, emails in the Promotions tab do not impact open rates significantly and are less likely to be reported as spam.

Expected outcome with Apple Mail

Based on our experience with Gmail, we don’t expect that tabs in Apple Mail will impact email deliverability for reputable senders negatively.

Clean, authenticated emails will probably continue reaching the intended recipients. 

How to prepare for the change?

  1. Maintain a Good Sender Reputation: Follow best practices like permission-based marketing, double opt-in, and avoiding spam triggers. Keep your email list clean to maintain a positive sender reputation.
  2. Ensure Proper Authentication: Use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols to authenticate your emails, which helps prevent them from landing in spam folders.
  3. Focus on Content Quality: Send relevant, high-quality content that your subscribers want to receive. This will help ensure your emails remain engaging and valuable.


Emails will continue to reach users’ inboxes, but only in a more organized manner. Introducing tabs in Apple Mail for iOS 18 will improve the user experience. And with improved user experience usually comes improved engagement, open rates, and CTRs.

So, in short, it’s a win-win situation for both the user and email marketers. Marketers who follow the best email deliverability practices should be unphased by the new update.

Nael Chhaytli
Nael Chhaytli
Nael Chhaytli is a Digital Marketing Expert and a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at GetResponse with a diverse background in marketing specializations. He has used his expertise to drive success and growth for businesses in the service, SaaS, and e-commerce sectors.