MailTones for IPhone
MailTones from Electric Pocket is an e-mail notification app that enables you to be notified, via a variety of sounds and also via push text notifications, of incoming e-mail.
The app's strength lies in its flexibility. It enables you to specify which of 31 different noises it plays depending on who has sent the e-mail (you can choose a contact who has multiple e-mail addresses), by subject, and by domain. You can choose to turn sounds and text alerts on and off at any time, as well. Among the tones are 13 loud or lengthy tones that are designed to be able to wake you.
In order for MailTones to work, you have to set up your e-mail program(s) to forward mail to a specified address @mailtones.net. Most (but not all) mail apps enable mail-forwarding. (For example, I use Gmail, and have it both forward a copy to mailtones.net and also keep a copy on the Gmail server. Yahoo, on the other hand, only allows e-mail forwarding in its paid "Plus" accounts). You also need to have an active Internet connection. According to Electric Pocket, the app's "reliability and stability" in processing your e-mail rests upon its use of the Amazon EC2 platform.
In my tests I found MailTones to be reliable, as advertised. In addition, the distinctive tones--especially the louder, longer ones--are attention-getters. The app does require a few minutes of setup time, and you can make changes to your original setup.
My only quibble, a minor one, is that there's no apparent way to delete a friend, subject, or domain once you have set it up. This would be a real hassle if you didn't also have the option to set the tone to "ignore"--in other words, to provide no alert.
Most users who utilize--or at the very least monitor--their e-mail on the iPhone or iPod touch will likely find this to be a useful app, as it enables you to only be sidetracked by an e-mail notification when you choose to.
[Jeff Merron is a freelance writer and editor living in North Carolina.]