VIP Email was one of the flagship features of Mountain Lion’s updates to Mail.App. With the release of iOS 6, the iPhone and iPad version of Mail.app has caught up with its own VIP function. If you’re an iOS only Apple user, this function is meant to isolate addresses into their own mailboxes, and add their own alerts. For corporate email users, this is a way to ensure that you always know when your boss is emailing, and home users can isolate emails from their spouses, significant others, and family. This is a long way from being able to create mail rules in Mail.App on iOS, but it does allow for better message control.
You can add a user to your VIP list in one of two ways. You either go into the VIP Mailbox and add someone from your contacts, or you can add someone by pressing and holding their address in an email they’ve sent. You can then control the notifications for these messages apart form your various accounts as a whole. (Being able to control mail accounts individually is an additional new feature in iOS 6.)
On the Mac, each of your VIPs become their own mailbox, allowing you to see everything that they’ve sent you. iOS 6 doesn’t do the same thing; instead all of the VIP emails are filtered into the same subsection of your mail account. While this achieves the very basic premise of VIPs, filtering out the noise, it misses the ability to go searching through all the emails someone sent you.
VIP is a basic application of mail users but it’s lightyears away from the sort of rules that power users are looking for. It seems that the iPad version of iOS Mail is still being held back by the idea that it needs parity with the iPhone. Considering how many big companies are deploying iPads to execs as email machines for traveling, the iPad should be able to have a ton of customization for mail rules. However, even with VIP it still feels like we’re working with a phone’s model of email. That said, VIP is an improvement and at least allows you to isolate email notifications to emails you actually need to do something with immediately. It’s just to bad to see the iPad’s Mail app hamstrung by its little brother’s model.