Like many people, I used Thunderbird to manage my email accounts throughout the 2000s and early 2010s. But Mozilla practically gave up on the client sometime between 2012 and 2015, forcing me to find something new. Now, as part of Thunderbird’s revival, Mozilla is finally bringing the email client to Android devices.
Using Thunderbird today is like jumping in a time machine—it’s pretty outdated. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Thunderbird app is incredibly lightweight when compared with modern, Electron-based email clients. It’s also super customizable, backed by an enthusiastic community, and has a strong 19-year track record for user privacy.
These features are very desirable in 2022, which is why Mozilla is finally giving Thunderbird some attention. Recent updates, a new business plan, and a huge influx of cash promise to make Thunderbird’s desktop client respectable again, but in order for this plan to work, Thunderbird needs to make its mobile debut.
That’s why Mozilla has obtained the rights to K-9 Mail, an open-source email client that aligns with Thunderbird’s mission. Instead of building a Thunderbird app from scratch, Mozilla will transform K-9 Mail into Thunderbird for Android. It will offer most (if not all) of the features you care about, including message filters, account auto-configuration, “unmatched customization,” and syncing with the desktop client.
Mozilla will slowly update K-9 Mail with Christian Ketterer (usually called cketti), who currently maintains the app. Once it has some essential features, such as desktop syncing, K-9 Mail will become “Thunderbird for Android.” (The rebranding should happen sometime in 2023.)
Updates to the K-9 Mail app may be a bit unpredictable, with major alterations to features and the UI. But if you want to experience its transformation, you can install K-9 Mail on your Android smartphone or tablet today. Mozilla also hopes to bring Thunderbird to iOS, though it’s focusing on Android first.