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AMP for email is a terrible idea (techcrunch.com)
1151 points by coloneltcb 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 465 comments

Nothing says “we’re listening to your concerns about AMP” like rolling it out further to interfere with a function that is even less suited for AMP.

Also, technology companies have a real problem assigning appropriate value to maintenance tasks that just keep things stable and usable. I’ve had infrastructure responsibilities over the years and the hardest thing about it was that nobody really knows or cares how much trouble you put into having things work flawlessly for months or years on end. It was important to find lots of visible tasks to go along with the invisible ones. I guess you end up with things like 40 Google chat clients and “hey let’s screw with E-mail” when there isn’t enough promotion-worthy work left to do in those areas.

Part of why I don't advocate for CDNs when you don't need them is because I want to build robust sites that work for years untouched. For timespans over a year, anything not on your server is brittle. Oops, CDN changed its URL/didn't update their ssl ciphers/went bust and shut down completely and now {js-framework}/{css-library} is missing and my site is broken. What an unforeseeable circumstance!

That's why I like to map one of my own subdomains to the cdn service.

So everything is at cdn.example.com and if I change providers, it's just a dns record change and everything is ready, even if I want to just host my own content.

Doesn't that kill the possibility that a visitor will already have common content cached when visiting your site for the first time? I know that's not the only reason to use a CDN, but it's a pretty big one.

In my experience, the variety of specific versions of libraries sites are locked to dilutes that performance benefit. Just look at a cross-sampling of sites calling jQuery or <insert your favorite library or framework here>.

In theory, the maximum benefit of a CDN only comes if everyone is on 1) the same version or, similar but different, 2) an evergreen version. And the latter is a big red neon sign screaming "DANGER".

And the parts that everyone is on, became standardized in the browser: document.querySelector, CSS animations, async stuff, etc.

Honestly with all the versions of js libraries and all the CDN hosts, the limitations of cache size and the insane bloat of webpages, I think you're going to have to be pretty lucky to get any beneficial cache hits from unrelated third party sites.

IF you have some stuff you think some visitors will have cached, well then you can use the standard google or jquery CDN or whatever (they're free anyway). For everything else you would run from your own CDN url.

I thought that too but even for the most common stuff like font awesome cdn cannot be trusted - just too many silent outages that were only discovered from user complaining because they impacted different geographical areas differently..

IIRC the argument was that JS bloat is okay "because we can cache common content through CDNs" ... or that's how it felt at the time :)

It sort of/kind of started with jQuery, and in those days including jQuery was considered somewhat bloaty. I think it was about 18kB minified back then? Today their site says it's 30kB.

Either way that's miniscule compared to having a few pictures on your webpage. Having much more JS than that, honestly seems like true bloat to me, which I don't think CDNs should facilitate anyway (so much untrusted unknown unchecked code doing very, very filthy things).

My point is, it wasn't a very good argument back then either, but it became normal because people did it for other reasons, too.

The main reason people did it, was that it was just so much easier. Just copypaste those 1.5 lines of code in your <HEAD> section to include the latest version of jQuery from Google's CDN, instead of downloading it and putting it somewhere in your source tree and now you've got to keep track that different parts of your codebase written months apart don't accidentally use slightly different versions (because it's ugly, not because it mattered a lot otherwise), etc.

Such convenience!

And if someone asked if it was really a good idea to blindly load 3rd party code and run it in the context of your own domain? Even I told people this sometimes: Well if you can't trust Google serving you secure code, then the web is basically fucked anyway, and we got much bigger problems. Which seemed like a reasonable threat model / security trade off at the time.

And now we're here.

About a week ago Google got caught hosting hostile ads that included cryptocoin miners inefficiently wasting users' electricity for a few bucks (profit insignificant compared to the cost of energy wasted). And apparently Google's offering to blindly host 3rd party JS to all users on the entire Internet everywhere (except the adblockerati), via their fucking ad network, has been expected behaviour for over a year at least and nobody gave a peep when that malfeature appeared.

I still don't know the exact date when or if there even was an announcement when they allowed advertisers "sure do whatever you like to their browsers, run some code, compute stuff, track them in all the ways we haven't dared to deploy publicly, or yet thought of, have at it, you need this, you do you".

So yeah, the web is fucked, we got bigger problems and hell no you can't trust Google any more.

> Either way that's miniscule compared to having a few pictures on your webpage.

A visitor can decide to not display images to improve performance and this will not break the website, blocking the (often not useful) js on the other hand...

> And if someone asked if it was really a good idea to blindly load 3rd party code and run it in the context of your own domain? Even I told people this sometimes: Well if you can't trust Google serving you secure code,

You overlooked the privacy and personal data issue here. It's a bad idea to rely on anything google because it means that you give away the privacy of your visitor to one of the worst offender no less.

> About a week ago Google got caught hosting hostile ads ...

Google has been delivering malware, spyware and that kind of things for years. It was even considered a major vector of infection (usually someone looked for flash on google and clicked on the first results which happened to be a google ad for an infected flash installer)

Wouldn't the paths change between providers?

Many providers simply map to your live site structure. So I keep everything on my own site and do the initial upload there. The CDN looks to my site to get the original copy when they receive a request for a file they don't have cached.

Dont't forget build tools.

Good luck updating a site that used the latest and greatest build tools that are now depricated.

Fun thing: a lot of times I download the Javascript from a CDN because then I don't need build tools because it was already built for me on the CDN...

People focus too much on ship fast.

They get in trouble when the product becomes a success.

Right, better to have your site fail today, then to risk it failing in the future. You couldn't make an archive of your site for emergency access.

Why would it fail today? If I can't serve an asset then my whole server is down.

If you are an e-commerce site serving hundreds of images worldwide then CDNs make a tonne of sense.

If you just have a simple site or SaaS getting decent traffic, why add a failure point by including your choosen JS with a CDN. No one batts an eyelid when you add ten images to the homepage but somehow a single, much smaller JS file is too much extra load. It doesn't stand up to reason.

Noting I couldn't quite figure out the tone of your comment to know if you were agreeing or disagreeing.

I'm waiting for AMP chat; I hear it's fast. /s

And you can run it on any platform, so long as it's Google's. The best user choice since the color of your Model T.

And it will supplant Duo and Allo, that were/are supposed to supplant (or augment, or co-exist -- can't we all just get along?) Hangouts, that was supposed to integrate SMS and MMS, but bollocks.

Anyway, I prefer my email to remain immutable after initial transmission. I don't need another Snapbookthingie...

Which reminds me, Google: You already hosed search results with your first... or second, or third, buzzzzzz... big social, dynamic (comments) push, Plus.

And almost nobody liked Buzz, nor the way you tried to shove it down our throats.

Are you really going to take another stab at sabotaging one of your successful products -- this time, Gmail?

You HAD a successful social platform: Reader. And you nuked it.

You want "social" and "changing content"? Bring back Reader.

Buy a clue.

One of my coworkers to this day was so upset by the Google Reader fiasco that he has not used any google service in any form since then.

I was really upset by it too. I used to start my day with Google Reader the same way my dad used to start his day reading the newspaper. This was a crucial part of my morning ritual, and I trusted and relied on Google to maintain it for me. The sudden announcement that it would be taken away felt like a betrayal. It shattered my image of Google and made me completely rethink my dependence on them and seek out alternatives wherever I could.

I was too. For personal use I eschew new products by Google. iPhone is starting to have big issues but I'll never go back to a Google phone, computer, tablet etc.

AMP has gotten me to finally switch to Duck Duck Go. Gmail is too difficult to leave, but AMP for gmail may finally get me over the edge.

Still wish there was an rss reader as good as G. Reader.

I agree.

It was probably the single best social thing I’ve ever used. It was unique as it was actually social. Both my teams at work and family/friends used it as a way to comment on news and share stuff of interest. It was also a product of an earlier era where there was excitement over anything Google released.

Google+ tried to capture many of the good parts of reader... but it was too forced.

The social aspect was the one part of Reader I never got. I don't think anyone I know uses RSS feeds outside of podcast subscriptions. I just liked that it was the only RSS reader I had ever found that just worked, and it synced my state as a bonus.

I would love to move back to RSS for the sites I read regularly, but no one seems to offer RSS anymore...

You might try contacting the owners and requesting they add one.

AFAIK, Google Now, which is well baked into Android uses RSS feeds. It might not be that people subscribe to them manually, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who do consume content from RSS feeds through things like Google Now. I personally find it nifty to receive updates on blogs according to my search history.

Those people aren't using RSS feeds in a way that would make something like Google Reader social for me.

> You want "social" and "changing content"? Bring back Reader.

But we can't blast you with ads via Reader. What's the point of that?

uuh, they could've. they just didn't.

its pretty easy to parse the content of an rss/atom feed and show targeted ads.

AMP runs in any web browser. Bing serves AMP search results to Firefox.

And the offers the assistant delivers as ads will be extremely light-weight, signed off by Google-headed committee.

Slack needs that! haha

Google is bad at product.

" “modernize” email, allowing “engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.” "

Whenever a service or company purports to make something "engaging" and "interactive" you just know that useability and actual, tangible usefulness are going to go out the window in favour of marketer-driven choices.

We don't 'engage more' with your software/service because you changed everything to optimise for engagement and time spent, we engaged more because it took more time/steps to get the same thing done.

Arguably what we should be doing is optimising for less time spent on an app/service for the purposes of enabling a better/more efficient/more enjoyable experience by letting users get what they want to do done quickly and easily.

You are making a mistake in thinking you are the customer. You are the product.

When using gsuite, I am the customer.

Then hopefully I can turn it off in my GSuite administration account...

...doubt it.

I have always wondered - is there someone you can chat with or call for GSuite?

Yes. It was my first and only call with Google tech support. Noticeably outsourced, but competent after escalation.

> competent after escalation.

Was escalation as simple as "I would like to speak to a supervisor, please," or was there a more complicated incantation?

I believe the phrase you're looking for is "Klaatu barada nikto!"

I said "necktie" and now my computer has daemons.

Hail to the king, baby!

In the same way when you pay for cable TV you are the customer... not really.

If you live in a town where FIOS is active, you are magically a customer again.

Until they sell you off to Frontier. Frontier decided all the movies I bought from Verizon weren't mine anymore. No compensation, no apologies.

The whole idea of “selling” something that the customer don’t actually receive, and has no rights to, is insane. It’s tantamount to false advertising, and I think it should be made illegal.

As much as we all hate cable, telephone companies are more evil.

Verizon in particular is amazing in their priorities from an operational perspective are getting rid traditional phone business at all costs and spiting the CWA.

That's how the world used to be. Now you're either a customer or not. You will always be the product.

For totally unrelated tinfoil-hat reasons I started using fastmail yesterday. Now I feel very vindicated in my choice, but it makes me wonder; since Gmail is so pervasive, will this action by them end up f-ing up email for everyone, the same way that many sites claim to only work on Chrome?

AMP for email would be another reason to start using fastmail myself. I probably share the same "tinfoil-hat" reasons, but I never got around to it (shame).

Right, but I think it's fatalistic to just write off any attempt to come up with better solutions: nothing will change if we don't at least start thinking about, proposing and testing other ideas.

I think it's a reasonable assumption that most people here are devs or interested in software/programming/etc. Marketers aren't going to be the ones who are actually interested in making better products, they're practically premature-optimisation-in-user-hostile-directions personified, so someone else has to at least propose these ideas.

You are making a mistake in participating in Google garbage as a user. You are an item for sale.

FWIW it's already possible to build apps inside email. There are now full ecommerce stores that run inside gmail messages.

Please give some examples. This sounds horrible, but therefore also true.

At the Inbox Awesome conference this year there was a talk on this, not sure if it’s online.

And you couldn't have invested the time to write a second or third sentence summarizing it?

They run stores in the vendor's email, or the customer's email? bug difference

Real improvements would be ones that allow me to engage less.

Related reading: Against an increasingly user-hostile Web, https://www.neustadt.fr/essays/against-a-user-hostile-web/

>It all comes down a simple but very dangerous shift: the major websites of today's web are not built for the visitor, but as means of using her. Our visitor has become a data point, a customer profile, a potential lead -- a proverbial fly in the spider's web. In the guise of user-centered design, we're building an increasingly user-hostile web.

In this case page load times are being valued over everything (not just AMP but also the search rankings algorithm).

I'm not 100% sure if it's a vanity metric for Google or not.

...Google does have some of the greatest statistical minds in the world, just maybe not the best product/UX minds.

KPI's can be highly misleading when it's disconnected from raw UX. It's difficult to measure user emotional experience, especially when you have a monopoly on user attention with Google Search and total product lock-in with Gmail. When users don't have alternative options analytics stats can be deceiving.

And just because a user completes X task a hundred milliseconds faster it doesn't necessarily mean the UX was better. And just because the UX was made incrementally worse doesn't mean I'm going to use Google/Gmail any less. But enough of small cuts can build up into a serious wound.

I remember reading that article and thinking that the author either isn't old enough to remember the 90s web or has memory loss about how hostile it was to the user.

Ubiquitous banner ads, "free" 56k if you use our browser and click links, cookie bonanza, link hijacking etc... have been part of the web since day one.

> Ubiquitous banner ads, "free" 56k if you use our browser and click links, cookie bonanza, link hijacking etc... have been part of the web since day one.

No they haven't. I definitely remember the web before those were common, and it was great.

And while yes, the web was hostile back then, we also thought about it as hostile. There's been a definite shift in how the web is presented. Back then, we taught "Don't put anything personal online, it's all shady." But now, we want users to give us everything they can, and we've changed the language to allow it. "It's OK for you to give this data to us. We're Google/Facebook/Twitter/etc. There's no way we'd be irresponsible with that data"

It's not like we've come up with some new, super-secure way to store that data. The web is even more shady nowadays, but we're training users not to think about it that way.

  AMP is, to begin with, Google exerting its market power to extend its control over others’ content. Facebook is doing it, so Google has to.
As a consumer, I actually love AMP. Everytime I click a news link on mobile and am taken to AMP, I'm relieved to be free from the extremely distracting original websites.

Google has done a lot of exciting work on open standards like JSON-LD [0] and Microdata [1] to bring a better experience to both Google search results and Gmail. I love clicking the inline "Confirm subscription" button [2] instead of opening emails from Mailchimp and searching for a link. I'm not that scared of the future becoming locked into Google. I believe they'll improve upon and create better standards for emails. Most things aren't entirely altruistic, and that's OK. Gmail being an early adopter to these standards is a good enough reason for them.

[0]: https://developers.google.com/gmail/markup/reference/formats...

[1]: https://developers.google.com/gmail/markup/reference/formats...

[2]: https://developers.google.com/gmail/markup/reference/one-cli...

We have the exact opposite opinion then. I moved to DuckDuckGo on iOS because I thought the AMP formatted Google search results were so user-hostile.

Maybe they’ve fixed the bizarre scrolling and overly sensitive links by now, but I see no reason to find out, because I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

Honestly if AMP is such a nice format, how hard can it be to just format the content in plain HTML+CSS and let the browser do the scrolling and UI bits?

Only if that doesn't work pleasantly, then you get to complain about the browser not doing its job properly. (this remark aimed at some other replies in this subthread)

It's probably not hard at all, it's just that Google's priorities are currently at "fuck you" especially if you try to avoid being tracked.

There are still UX problems on Android too. I tend to open links in a new window and then close the one I'm looking at when I'm done with it. This experience is totally broken with Amp pages in mobile Chrome. Uhg.

When AMP was announced, I was excited about it specifically for my phone - it's where I care most about loading speeds.

These days, I actively avoid AMP links on Android. It's such a hideously buggy, functionality-disabling system on my phone that it's not worth loading those pages at any speed.

For what it's worth, I only use my phone seriously when I'm out and about, and a lot of times, my internet connection isn't the best, e.g. while in metro

This is true for me too, but I still find that using AMP pages on Android is basically nonfunctional. They load fast, but scrolling is shoddy and every single linking function (back button, hyperlink, and new tab alike) is a mess.

If I want to load a single page with dense content, view it without scrolling much, and close the tab, AMP makes my mobile experience better. If I want to do anything else, AMP on Android starts to interfere with basic functionality.

Which is a pretty sad story for a Google CDN on a Google browser on a Google OS.

I know the scrolling issues we're bugs in webkit. Google (I believe) started to employ a webkit dev to fix the problems.

No, not really. Most UX issues with AMP on Safari rather stem from the approach Google has taken with the html. For instance, it’s not a WebKit bug that tapping the top of the screen on an AMP page does not scroll to top - something that works on virtually all other webpages.

The tapping top of screen hasn't been fixed, as it likely is hard to do.

As for other work on scrolling:

Person contracted to fix some webkit issues: http://frederic-wang.fr/amp-and-igalia-working-together-to-i...

HN discussion made some news about scrolling changes made due to AMP's bug reports: https://www.macrumors.com/2017/05/22/scrolling-changes-comin...

AMP scrolling is still broken. I don’t see why it needs to touch the scroll behavior at all. Plain html is both fast and scrolls naturally. It doesn’t break mobile safari. I don’t get why Google needed to render AMP on such a way that they need to try hard to emulate native scroll behavior (still getting it wrong, previously it was too fast and now it’s a smidge too slow) instead of just using the native behavior.

>The tapping top of screen hasn't been fixed, as it likely is hard to do.

Plain HTML+CSS is hard to do?

Google has gone to an exceptional effort to make things not work like they do by default. That it's even more effort to now get basic UX back shows just how misguided the entire team is.

I’ve heard that before. It’s still fair to blame Google for the whole fiasco. Especially since the non-AMP versions had always worked fine.

Why not blame Apple for building a buggy browser that you have no choice but to use? Stop buying buggy user-hostile phones. AMP pages work perfectly fine in Firefox for Android.

Let’s say you’re an engineer about to roll out a feature to (literally) a billion users. Through testing, you know your feature is busted for the ~14.5% of your users who use Safari. But it’s not your fault! Apple should fix it.

Quick quiz: do you release a feature that is broken for 145M users, which brokenness they might plausibly encounter multiple times a day?

In a typical organization, the answer would probably be an unambiguous “no”.

Without passing judgment, I find the fact that Google decided to ship anyway to be a useful indicator of their beliefs, culture, and priorities.

You could turn that around and ask why Apple didn't bother to fix something that was causing pain for some of their users and continued not to fix it after it was causing pain for most of their users. Google made a bad engineering decision, but I would place most of the blame on Apple.

It's the same for IE and web applications that didn't work in that browser. Luckily, people (for the most part) stopped using IE. We can only hope that iOS Safari will share that fate.

It doesn’t feel equivalent to me; I tend to think that there’s a meaningful distinction between a bug known before shipping and a bug discovered after.

That said, it’s fair to ask why Apple hasn’t placed priority on the scrolling bug, post-AMP. What the real dynamics are I can only guess; I’d love to hear from lurking AMP or WebKit engineers.

The three main issues are that scrolling behavior was busted, clicking on the top bar doesn't scroll to the top like it does in all other scroll views in the system, and the URL bar doesn't show the 'real site' so links shared via the built-in mechanism are links to google, not to the actual site content.

All three of these are Google not taking into account mobile browser design. None of these can really be classified as issues in Safari, rather they are consequences of the Safari design and the design choices Google made.

The first two are due to the content being embedded within an iframe.

The scrolling issue was partly because Safari implemented custom scroll behavior (supposedly due to a Steve Jobs request) for its main web view, but scrollable iframes did not override the scrolling behavior. The fix here (I believe it was rolled out in iOS 11) was to change system-wide behavior for Safari to use the system default scrolling behavior, so that everything behaved the same.

The title bar issue is due to the content not being a scroll view, but a view the size of the screen containing one or more scroll views (the iframes). Which of these should be scrolled to the top on a tap? Changing this behavior could change it for deployed sites, so rolling out any sort of new heuristic requires testing and probably wouldn't be done outside a new major version (e.g. iOS 12).

The third issue is across all browsers - Google is the one serving the content, not the third party that wrote the content. Because of this, any attempt to change where the browser 'thinks' a page is being served to another domain runs afoul of pretty fundamental web security principles. You might be able to design some sort of call (similar to CORS) to ask if google is representing your content in order to get permission to forge the address, but that would be a new web standard that hasn't been written yet.

Google should have just not used a scrolling iframe. MobileSafari has this beautiful quirk that iframes greater than 8 pixels tall automatically expand to the size of their content, solving all of the awkward coordination problems of sizing the iframe. It would have been just so damned simple for Google to fix this in MobileSafari :/.

The AMP viewer and the AMP cache page are served from different domains. Leaking the size of the cache page to the viewer page would be a security bug, which is worse than the scrolling bug that Apple actually had.

That's certainly an interesting quirk, I've never heard of it, nor seen it in another browser.

Definitely useful, though, why isn't that a feature in HTML5?

> I’d love to hear from lurking AMP or WebKit engineers.

A WebKit engineer explained the scrolling bug and how they fixed it here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14386292

> That said, it’s fair to ask why Apple hasn’t placed priority on the scrolling bug, post-AMP

Because Apple is incapable of fixing a browser bug without an OS update. You should be asking why Apple won't let you use a non-buggy browser on your phone to begin with.

I’m not going to switch my browser or my hardware platform over some trivial bug that only surfaces on one website. I’m just not going to visit that website.

It doesn't matter how you "feel", I know for a matter of fact, objectively and measurably, that my load times have gotten significantly faster, and that AMP has achieved what thousands of sites have failed to do.

So feel free to call it names and bring up feelings, but what I care about is the actual objective experience I'm getting.

That's being a bit obtuse. Of course it matters how it feels, however you look at it! Such as if a loading bar makes something feel better as it loads - then good!

That's not quite what I was talking about. I was responding specifically to:

> I see no reason to find out, because I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

The person was basically saying "I don't feel like checking how good AMP is, I'm just going to blindly dismiss it"

While I agree with your opinion that AMP is fast, perceived performance is certainly a thing. Read into it :-)

As a consumer I like the speed of AMP but hate the usability of it (ever try sharing a link? ugh).

As a developer and a content creator? I absolutely hate it. Not only is my content hosted outside of my control but they give them a visual weighting in Google search results. So now, if I want my content to have the best chance to be seen, I have to use AMP.

I wish they would have just made AMP a framework or build system that out spit out optimized web pages. Instead they force us to use their CDN which also has multiple trust issues.

I don’t like how usual ios controls stop to work with amp, e.g. scroll to top by tapping on time; back button works[-ed] wrongly. Also there is annoying amp bar at the top that pops up constantly when I scroll. They can’t distinguish between swipe-and-stop and swipe-and-letitscroll in browser, so it doesn’t work as safari header bar.

Better they completely faked dns/cert in some wat and presented me copied content from their amp cache. I don’t check sources anyway.

Everybody had a computer that could run any program, but used only their web browser, so they made the web browser pretend to be any program, but then everybody had a web browser that could run any program, but used only webmail, so they made webmail pretend to be any program? Where does that end?

Or are these ”engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.” more limited than the current web applications? If so, what are their limitations?

Also, I guess all clicks in those experiences will go through Google’s servers.

> Also, I guess all clicks in those experiences will go through Google’s servers.

And therein lies the motivation. Why would all these Gmail users want to be clicking on web apps that aren't hosted on and monetized by Google, when they could be doing all these things inside Gmail?

At Google, we feel email security is a top priority. That is why the new AMP-enabled GMail runs on a Go interpreter, in a walled Java-based virtual machine, inside Chrome, installed the OS of your choice.

Meaning no Chrome, no AMP based emails? Sounds good to me!

> Also, I guess all clicks in those experiences will go through Google’s servers.

That's the main thing I mind.

Really, the UI of webmail clients suck. The point of computing is automatization; there's shit ton of things that could be better integrated with each other in search, e-mail, calendaring, etc. But for that to be good, you'd have to own that integration. When a third party owns it, you become slave to that third party.

> ”engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.”

'Click here to download Thunderbird' is what my mind inserts after reading that.

It's inner-platform effects all the way down!

> Also, I guess all clicks in those experiences will go through Google’s servers.

They already do, when I click a link in my GMail (Android) app, and it opens in Firefox (Android), I can sometimes quickly see a Google redirection URL flit by before loading the actual page. They basically did a similar shitty trick to what they did to the Search result pages, pretending to be direct links but inserting a tracking redirect at the onbeforeunclick event or such.

Hey, btw anyone know of a nice Firefox Add-on or something that rewrites/stops the Google Search result links from redirecting at the last moment? I've been meaning to code up something like that myself, but I bet it already exists (and I'm mostly using DDG these days any way).

Another thread here summarized it quite well. All these expensive engineers need to do something. If it ends that would mean most of the employees have no purpose anymore.

Because they didn't internalize the feedback from Wave well enough I guess. /s

I agree with the article, email is email. But it points out something which is fundamentally a problem for the industry. Some software is done as in doesn't need to change any more.

That is a scary place since all those Gmail engineers need to do something so if it isn't adding new things to Gmail what will they do?

Interesting parallel in open source, Linux especially, when you have a subsystem that works well and is well understood by lots of people. Nothing to fix right? Well that would be boring. So we get things like systemd replacing the init subsystem and we get the unholy love child of netware and windows 'net' command replacing networking infrastructure management. Did they need changing? No, the previous systems did just fine. But what else is there to do?

That's exactly what I thought about new Youtube web interface. It's slow to load and consumes more CPU. Previous design worked great everywhere. There was no need for the UI change.

But, people can't just do nothing and get paid. So, they will create the need. And now spend months to make it, fix it, get busy again.

Yes! This "over-engineering" is happening all over Google products. Chrome is another example. It is not all bad, however, some Google Apps really needed attention, like the new Calendar is a step up (IMO).

> This "over-engineering" is happening all over Google products

This is absolutely a thing at Google IMHO. Remember the last major version of Google Maps, ran silky smooth on low end hardware, searches went where you expected, in and out no problem.

Then someone decided to try for glory and improve on perfection by re-engineering the entire thing. Now it sets the fans off in my macbook within a few seconds of appearing and they run for the duration, searches zoom out and show results 5 miles away on the other side of the major city I live in when I just want to see restaurants or coffee shops near me, constant back and forth jank from result lists to items.

Went from an app that was a complete joy to use to something I dread to interact with.

The Google Maps app isn't even "capable" of remembering your recent search queries if you don't allow Google to track your Location History.

Says enough about their priorities, IMHO.

I remember one of the earliest software features that was widespread and called "intelligent" was basically the fact that a search form would remember your previous queries and present them incrementally as you were typing your new search.

That a company that prides itself on its AI efforts simply refuses to do this, again, says enough about their priorities.

The interface might be perfect but if it doesn't change users will eventually think it's "too old", some users like you and me will happily use the "too old" interface because it's fast and works well, but the normal people want something "fresh". Design is like fashion, some design patters stay, but the look is constantly changing.

While you're not wrong about trends in design / UI design, if you think about it for a moment, your argument is no more than a mere footnote (if any) in Google's reasons for pushing AMP to email.

It's mostly about tracking and a form of "embrace, extend, extinguish". We're at the last end of the second phase now. Make no mistake, Google has followed through on the "extinguish" part enough in the past. See: Google Reader, and what they did to Usenet and the Deja archives.

Which is why, in a way, consultancy is a better place to be.

90% of the industry isn't directly about software, rather other products that are helped by having some software around, and when it is done, it is done. Time to move along to other customer.

I don't consider email to be "done". It's pretty much my least favorite tool.

The underlying protocols (SMTP and IMAP) are decent, but the clients aren't. It still lacks usable end-to-end encryption found in many modern messaging protocols/apps. Outright spam is mostly solved, but marketing and other notification emails I accidentally or intentionally signed up for consume way too much mental bandwidth, even with supposedly intelligent email clients (at least the ones I've tried)

That said, AMP for email doesn't solve any of those problems either.

IMAP without NOTIFY which no major provider implements is terrible.

I have to disagree on the topic of systemd.

A lot of what it does definitely needed changing — although systemd implements that change suboptimally.

Take the logind concept:

In the past, Linux screensavers were simply a fullscreen window in front of everything else. They crashed? Your system unlocked.

With logind, you have one tiny separate daemon that spawns your original X session, and the screensaver. As long as the screensaver is active, that screensaver replaces the X sessions's display.

If the screensaver crashes, it gets restarted, or, if that fails, you get in a lovely TTY font "open a tty, login as your user, and type loginctl session-unlock".

And this is secure. If something fails, your session won't accidentally unlock.

Other features include an IPC protocol that allows per-message security — user A can send messsage type 1, but user B can only send message type 2 (although, did that verification language have to be JS? T_T)

This thread here is obviously the wrong place to roll out the systemd discussion again.

That's a good point, it's just sad to see people directly dismiss it.

Systemd is a lot of good intentions and ideas, turned into bad code.

AMP is one good idea (faster loading speeds) turned into not just bad code, but also lock-in and proprietary anticompetitive services.

There's no black, or white, only Greys on Greys.

Real happy with the "fold subthread" buttons on HN :)

(if only they would auto-fold after a fixed number of children, like Reddit, I might script that for myself one day)

> If the screensaver crashes, it gets restarted, or, if that fails, you get in a lovely TTY font "open a tty, login as your user, and type loginctl session-unlock".

This is really offtopic, but you seem to confuse KDE with systemd. There is a bit of KDE that tells you to use loginctl to tell KDE's display manager to unlock the session if KDE's screensaver doesn't work properly.

Sure, KDE implements that bit, but the important part is that logind makes it possible to implement that bit in the first place.

Before logind, the alternative was custom handling and detection of screensavers in your session, or simply it crashing back to the session.

I find both your comments confusing.

In your first comment you said that screensavers were just normal windows and would crash back to an unlocked screen - that never happened. Here you're conflating KDE (started ~1997) needing logind (started in what 2010?) which it didn't. Even your comment about a 'session' makes no sense since at the X runlevel X itself is the 'session'.

In my opinion a lot of the problem has been a lack of clarity of what the actual user benefit will be, and the crazy borg-like scope expanion. I'm going to avoid commenting on the implementation of logind and brethren.

I'm not conflating anything — lockscreens on X11 were always just normal windows. If they crash, they unlock.

I suggest you read JWZ's On Toolkits page: (archive link due to referer shenanigans): http://archive.is/BjMfp

Yes you are. The trick that KDE uses is that the screen locking is done by the KDE session manager, and because that is the main process in the X session if it crashes the session terminates so it's not possible to bypass the screen locker that way. None of that requires systemd; it makes use of something that's been true under X11 pretty much forever. The only thing that changed with logind is that instead of trying to restart the password prompt if it crashes, KDE now pops up a message asking you to drop to a console and use logind to disable the screen locker. (Annoyingly, it does this even on systems that don't use logind, in which case the instructions don't actually work.)

I was aware that KDE handled it that way, but as far as I know to handle it properly like this across X11, Wayland, and other sessions, logind is pretty much required.

Gräßlin wrote a bit about that in his blog.

But you might be right, I’ve not worked on either of these projects, so my knowledge is mostly from hearsay.

That’s just bad design to begin with, replaced by a ln inefficient kitchen sink of a solution. Why should the screensaver be part of this megalith?

Edit: to be clear, it’s not about the binary used to run the screensaver, it’s about the fact that it does not need to be a question of “all or nothing” and that a solution for this particular problem could have been adopted without replacing virtually every other component of the system services simultaneously.

As I wrote in the comment you replied to, the screensaver is NOT part of the init system, nor is logind part of the init system.

logind is developed by systemd, but a separate binary. In fact, every systemd project is a separate binary, just developed by the same project. Systemd is as much a monolith as KDE is.

Second, this tiny little logind binary is separate from the screensaver. It does not contain the screensaver, nor the lock screen, nor does it link to them.

This tiny process spawns the session and screensaver, and simply switches between them based on a signal. It's the tiniest possible concept for handling this task.

In general, I'd prefer if you could be more specific about your criticism, e.g. how this separate tiny binary is a "kitchen sink" and the screensaver, which is entirely separate from logind and systemd, is "part of a megalith".

Presumably, it is part of a “megalith” because now my screensaver depends on some crazy login manager, which depends on a crazy authenticated ipc scheme that loginctl uses, and probably none of this works if I replace systemd with something else, so it all depends on running some busted dns client with a recent history of remote exploits.

So, instead of wrapping my screensaver in a small program that manages respawns on crash, you’ve arranged to force me to either have the screensaver unlock itself (since you ripped out the old simple wrapper), or have remotely exploitable network holes.

[edit: source: https://www.jwz.org/xscreensaver/versus-xlock.html ]

Also, due to systemd, the some of the ioctls you need for rootless X are needlessly declared “root only”, so to call them, you have to launder the call through some authentication daemon that has its own (not Unix) security model, and runs as root.

Finnally, I run this mess on a machine that is also an NFS client, and it frequently times out mid login / resume session, so you need to login like three times on a bad day because nfs takes a few seconds to stat something.

It was even worse with systemd aware desktop environments. There, instead of timing out quickly, it would sometimes hang for minutes, with per-user copies of what appeared to he the whole systemd stack running, and no logs anywhere.

To what DevOps platform is this a reference to? "and we get the unholy love child of netware and windows 'net' command replacing networking infrastructure management"

Poor frogs. The water temp just got upped a couple of degrees. Too late to jump out or not just yet?

Some relief for frogs that make it out of the pot:





I’m a fairly happy fastmail user, and have been intrigued by ProtonMail. Has anyone made a switch between them or run both for an extended period of time?

I do like he idea of encrypted-at-rest, and the desktop bridge seems like a decent solution for syncing locally, but not having search on mobile seems like it would be a major drawback for my use cases.

An app I have always wished for is something that would store an offline indexed archive of my email on mobile, protected by passphrase and independent of any provider.

As an aside, what’s the deal with Redbox? I’d never heard of them and $650/a for 25GB makes it seem like their pricing matrix hasn’t been updated since the 90s. The stock photography doesn’t help with that impression.

ProtonMail is quite nice. Just try it out. I would suggest you always keep it open in a tab and save your password in a password manager, otherwise you may "forget" to log to that email and may not use it often. Also make sure you set-up getting your emails into ProtonMail from day one.

"Also make sure you set-up getting your emails into ProtonMail from day one"

could you explain this a bit more? ive been routing my gmail to protonmail since i started using it but im slowly changing accounts from using gmail to protonmail as i go

Happy FastMail customer over here.

Fastmail is great. I'm going on nearly 10 years of service I think.

15 years here. It just works.

I'll hop on this train. 7 happy years for me!

Lol. Leave it to somebody on HN to reduce a problematic corporate decision to a play on existential dread.

Does not allow custom domains.

Also, https://mail.zoho.com.

They have a 5GB free-tier if you've got a custom domain. I've been a customer for years and very happy overall.

Seconded. I've used them for years to and i currently have paid accounts. I administer accounts for others to and i find the interface more intuitive than gsuite.

Happy user of mailinabox here. Switched to it after openmailbox.org decided to kill their userbase by bringing out some completely unfunctional "new" UI along with three days of unscheduled downtime, which still doesn't work months on.

Barely no maintenance and I can add a prefix to all of my email addresses to easily blacklist anywhere that sells my email or unsubscribe links don't work for.

Seconded. Glad to see this here. They have their foibles (current webmail interface is very old school, filters are a little limited etc) but I'm a paying customer for several years now (asking side zoho's mail offering) and am happy.

Frogs will jump out of slowly-heating pots. Unless they're lobotomized in a certain specific way, which was the experiment that created the popular myth.

I was curious what sort of lobotomy was employed:

> In 1869, while doing experiments searching for the location of the soul, German physiologist Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that a frog that has had its brain removed will remain in slowly heated water, but an intact frog attempted to escape the water when it reached 25 °C.[1][5]

Ah, the whole brain then.

Only on HN...

I also point this out whenever someone mentions the frog analogy on reddit. So, also on reddit.

In Poland, right-wingers / conservatives use "lemmings" as a derogatory term for political opponents and basically anyone who doesn't agree with them. It isn't because they're fans of the game from 90's. There was a Disney animal "documentary" which had a scene with lemmings jumping off a cliff. The thing is, lemmings don't do that (don't suicide). In the movie, they were pushed for dramatic effect.

Moral of the story: conservatives in Poland live in their own delusions.

Redneck Mythbusters: put the term in search engine. Youtube works well most of the time. If you can't find multiple videos or photos showing it happening, it's probably not real. If all you can find is reports like "a bloke told me", it's probably not real.

If you're not at work, try it with "fluffer". Some stories are too good to be true.

Maybe you should try to contribute to the discussion instead of trying to derail it with trivia? Especially if that's something you do repeatedly.

Maybe you should have selected a better analogy instead of a flawed one?

Thank goodness that a bunch of clever kids are going to replace boring old SMTP n MTAs n MUAs and stuff with this bollocks: https://www.ampproject.org/ 8)

email works and doesn't need fixing. It (nearly) transports more messages every day than is countable and just works. SNR - now that needs fixing and a good start would be enforcing plain text.

It's OK though, they replaced email and SMTP with Google Wave back in '09 or so, right?

Email “works” but it’s ass for consistently displaying anything more than text.

Marketers want to make money, and right now stuffing emails with images in favor of proper layout is the only easy way to do it.

Of course google also wants all of your email googling its way through their servers.

As a marketer my fear is Google sees what FB is doing to monetize the feed format and it is moving to turn email into the next algorithmically controlled feed it can turn into a dynamic auction.

There is already a Gmail placement for AdWords ok the GDN. However for the most part, if I as a marketer send emails to my customers, I can be more or less certain they will get delivered if my deliverability is high.

What I see Google doing here is gradually exerting control until they tell brands "hey, you know those messages you used to send to customers for basically free? Now you need to pay a dynamic price we control in order to get any "organic" reach."

And just like that they will have turned one of the most valuable, scalable and cost effective marketing channels into another large revenue stream for themselves that gives them even more leverage over marketers.

Kinds of genius when you think about it.

> algorithmically controlled feed it can turn into a dynamic auction.

That's already happened with GMail, hasn't it? The filters for Promotion, Social, and of course Spam already control what/where users see (and it'd be trivial for Google to charge a fee here based off visibility of Promotion-categorized messages).

It's still in a linear and usually legible way, of course, and I think it's arguably user-friendly if imperfect. Doing what facebook does with feed/status updates with email would be absolutely ludicrous, it would make GMail a ghost town overnight.

It has started with the tabs, you are right.

I don't think introducing ads into the feed is as ludicrous as you say from a business standpoint. If done properly, I could see Google avoiding a mass exodus while simultaneously opening up more inventory for them. In some ways, I see Inbox as a test towards this vision.

My broader concern is a fundamental shift in the ownership of a customer/user relationship and the cost of reaching them. In today's world, you pay a fixed price for your ESP, and then some CPM rate for volume typically. Your costs are known, often negligible, and entirely under your control. Likewise, as long as you follow best email practices and nurture healthy relationships with those on your email lists, you have an expectation that your email will land in their inbox if they want to receive it.

That is similar to what FB had back in the day when someone Liked your brand page. If you posted, they would see it assuming they scrolled through their feed enough.

My fear is that Google will change that dynamic such that you cannot be guarantee to reach your audience (even if you have great deliverability) without entering into an auction and paying a constantly changing price that presumably will always increase as they maintain control as the new gatekeeper of that customer communication.

"Email “works” but it’s ass for consistently displaying anything more than text."

That is by design. Email is not an image viewer nor is it an HTML browser. It is a plain text medium.

The "active email" demo on the original article is a great example. I want to ensure that my primary inbox is a place where others can never ever send something like that.

It's an exaggerated version of the image-heavy email newsletters - these are obviously nice for the marketer, but the messages that I want to receive are not like that, they don't need this feature, it's only useful for those who want to steal my attention.

If marketers really need it, perhaps it could be a useful way to automatically forward any messages using this technology to spam.

Oh now that's an idea!

Somehow I expect that GMail's search box will get a "usesAMP:yes" or "content:AMP" filter or something. It has a lot of filter keywords like this[0], undoubtedly they'll add it.

You can easily add a filter rule to automatically mark all messages matching a filter as "spam".

If enough people do that, they might get the message. (and probably just remove the search filter option, sigh)

[0] come to think of it, GMail's search is a delight exactly because almost still kind of works like how Google Web Search used to work back when it was still good, a mere decade ago ...

> Email “works” but it’s ass for consistently displaying anything more than text.

That's a feature, not a bug.

Seems over-engineered. Why not the following simple setup -

- user receives email with a link (text or image) that points to some AMP page

- user clicks on the link

Gmail: - renders the AMP page in-place, replacing email content

Non-gmail clients: - keep whatever "link click" behavior they currently have

This does not render interactive content in email automatically and requires a click, but that click is important because it

- signals the user's desire to interact with the content

- follows current email security expectations, e.g. does not load third party content (other than images) just by viewing the email

Indeed. I can definitely see a reason one might want a dynamic experience in an email. I'd love to interact with some notifications without leaving my inbox. But that'd be select apps I want to work with, not something my email client should assume I want. Every marketing email I get shouldn't be an interactive page by any means.

I direct a lot of things to email like social notifications just so everything comes to one place. I end up doing a lot of bounces off to various sites to "respond" with a Like, +1, Retweet, etc.

But like, an interactive email should be a whitelisted opt-in behavior. "Hey, I want my Twitter notifs to be interactive so I can reply and retweet without leaving my email, so let me enable the Twitter app in my email client."

This was exactly what occurred to me. I haven't read the spec, but I presume they want to display AMP content pre-click.

As you pointed out, that violates user's expectations about what security vulnerabilities they are initiating when they open an email. Indeed, even lay users may sense that it just feels "wrong" for an email to act dynamically without anything being clicked.

> “For example, imagine you could complete tasks directly in email.”

Pretty much the only task I ever want to complete from inside an email is “Unsubscribe”.

I wish clients would make it easier. Gmail does has an unsubscribe button for some emails. It would be cool if it recognized emails I consistently ignore and prompt me to unsubscribe from them.

The Inbox App for Android does this.

Good luck! I had the "pleasure" of working on HTML emails a few months back. It was unbelievably painful. Getting even a simple email to display consistently across a dozen different mail clients is a huge pain. This is why so many marketing emails use giant images for everything--it's the simples way to get consistent rendering.

I predict whatever Google launches will work in GMail, and GMail only.

Most of the pain of HTML email is Microsoft’s fault, because they have persisted in using the MSO (Word) HTML render/editor in Outlook and Windows Mail, and it’s worse than IE 5.0. (Outlook 2003 switched to the IE renderer, and everyone rejoiced; then the Outlook 2007 went back to the MSO renderer for rather crummy reasons and all web people boggled and despaired.)

Sure, other clients have their inconsistencies, but they’re nowhere near as bad as MSO, and they actually get fixed over time. Microsoft, on the other hand, persist in using a rather buggy engine from twenty years ago, unchanged (I don’t know that there haven’t been any functional changes or bug fixes since then, but if there have been they’re minor or obscure).

I'm fairly certain that Lotus Notes is deserving of at least as much scorn for its mail rendering as Outlook.

Considering I did ISP tech support, including mail client setup, for a few years in the late 90's and early 2000's and never once encountered Lotus Notes, I think it may be like in kind, but nowhere near like in quantity.

Notes was an interesting product until people started using it for email.

Notes is/was typically used in corporate setups. I'm not sure any non-business user would have ended up trying to use it.

I would have thought the same of Microsoft Outlook (not Outlook Express), but those calls were fairly common. Perhaps Microsoft Office was just more commonly encountered outside a corporate environment.

Outlook has always been fairly accessible to the home user, through home use programs or various versions of Office. It even comes with home editions these days.

Lucky you, I see it every single day.

I had to do client work once that required Lotus Notes support and I swear that program runs HTML through a blender before trying to render it. It makes Outlook look like Chromium.

Notes doesn't do HTML at all, at least not in the client. (The webmail client, running in the browser, does use HTML.) It uses a rich text format, and has to translate HTML to the nearest Notes rich text equivalent.

Sometimes I think e-mail should have just stayed plain text. No HTML renderers or other fancy stuff. Just type what you want to say and to whom and send. You know what does fancy marketing "e-mails" really well without all the horrid HTML hackery? It is RSS (or Atom).

If HTML e-mail hadn't been invented then the need would have been fulfilled by something else, particularly for corporate environments where formatting and marking-up e-mails is essential to communication.

For a while in the late 90s / early 2000s we had RTF e-mail.

attachment: winmail.dat

Markdown support would be nice, though. GitHub flavored.

On top of that, it will only work well in Gmail on Chrome. Gmail on Firefox is already kind of a shitty experience, it will only get worse.

Marketing emails use giant images to push the text content below the fold, because they want to entice the user to enable images. Images need to be enabled to track opens.

I further predict it will work in GMail and Inbox differently from each other. Which is just mind boggling. Why!?

Embrace, Extend, Extinguish -- then walled garden.

There's a recurring theme in the discussion of this (and actually any time there is a discussion about email), that self-hosting email is really hard. That hasn't been my experience. I've been self-hosting four mail accounts (with moderate to high usage) on one server since about 2007. I briefly tried gmail when it came out but never switched to it.

In 11 years of self-hosting my mail I've had one deliverability problem, which was when outlook.com users stopped receiving our mail. I wrote to outlook.com, and it was resolved within 24 hours. This is possibly because my server is located in a reputable, but relatively small, datacentre, and not on the likes of AWS.

I use the zen.spamhaus.org DNS blacklist to reject connections from spammers outright, and do SPF checks. These two methods alone (no Bayesian or similar filtering) mean I get about one spam message per two days on average, which I just delete.

I estimate that I spend about half an hour a month on keeping the server up-to-date etc.

I consider the downsides extremely small in comparison to the benefits of controlling your own email setup. I encourage anyone with even basic server administration skills to try it. Email is a fantastically decentralised system and we should take advantage of that.

Yep. When you setup your server with a project such as sovereign you get great, secure defaults and day-to-day maintenance is minimal. Mostly keeping debian packages updated and upgrading the distribution every couple of years.

Until gmail/outlook/yahoo start silently blocking a percentage of your emails for some obscure reason. It’s really hard to get self hosted email right - it is very user hostile.

For everyone who feels AMP makes the web usable: A few points for thought.

Web is quite usable with or without AMP as long as you use some ad blockers.

As far as I understand, on Android, Google predominantly shows AMP pages on Chrome and not on Firefox (have not used other browsers to comment on. Will be great if someone chimes in on this).

This results in a good user experience for users of Chrome on Android.

But Android Chrome was made unusable by Google in the first place by not allowing extensions. So NoScript, AdBlockPlus, Ublock Origin etc will not work. So all the junk loads and you have an awful experience.

AMP comes in and saves the day :)

On Android Firefox, no such drama. I can just install Ublock Origin and have a great browsing experience what ever the site it is. Reader Mode is a bonus. (Though I have rarely used it).

What does it all say?

Oh wow, I've been using Firefox Android (with uBlock) since ages. I never considered that. But yeah whenever some app renders a page in some embedded widget (probably Chrome) it's just .. .blegh.

So that is what AMP is for? No wonder I've never seen the use.

Honestly can't think of a time I wished one of my emails had more interactivity.

What exactly would "more interactivity" even mean in this context? Running Javascript inside an eMail? What could possibly go wrong with that?

The author has really limited understanding of the enterprise world I believe.

Email doesn't belong to a company? Nice one. It belongs to Google and Microsoft.

And this kind of change signifies three things immediately:

1. Being terrible means it's likely to happen and not really stoppable. They've already thought about how many people won't like it and still decided to go for it.

2. They try for a long time to have this more interactive messaging experience. Thinking Google Wave and Google Plus here. They have not understood that Slack/Wechat have solved that in a much more elegant way already. So they try again and again. This one will also fail to produce the vision they have. Google simply doesn't get that Web 3.0 interactivity. For us it's okay, it just means at some points other companies will take Google's place, and it will become that old, annoying giant like IBM and Microsoft before them.

3. Touching Email in this way also means that they are becoming desparate. Maybe not about profit yet, but certainly about the visionary aspects of the company. Email is one of their core components. You don't F* with those unless you really feel desperate.

It is not at all about users. It's about survival. Therefore the arguments presented in the article aren't even close to being good. A good article would figure out why they are so desparate and suggest things that they could do in favor of their users that still will increase their survivability.

Buying Slack and integrating it with their office suite might just solve their problem. It will be super expensive but might bring them onto the next level. Just a quick, stupid suggestion as example for what the article should've been about.

With the expansion of AMP, it's crazy to think of Google more likely to undermine the health of the internet than the ISPs in a post net neutrality world.

As a user AMP has never once improved my experience. This topic comes up on HN from time to time but I still don’t see any value in the AMP model as a user. If it went away my experience would improve. Adding this misguided direction to gmail will only reduce utility from a user perspective.

How to get promoted at Google:

1. Build a product everybody hates and shove it down their throats.

2. Find an existing product people love and fuck it up or kill it.

How not to get promoted at Google (or anywhere else):

1. Build a product people hate and quietly let it die.

2. Do absolutely nothing to an existing product that works well that people love.

I don't know the technical details of what Google is planning, but if they build something that eases the pain of building cross platform HTML emails, that's a welcome innovation in my opinion. Building emails that "work" even just okay is a ridiculously hard task. Every company I've been at has made some attempt with mediocre results at best (oh, you're using _Outlook_?).

I'm not holding my breath for something good to come out of this, though. This could just as easily be a terribly executed product. But I'll try to be an optimist, because what we have now is outright trash.

"but if they build something that eases the pain of building cross platform HTML emails"

On the other hand, if HTML is excluded then the message gets through without scope for mischief.

HTML emails are here to stay, and the billions of dollars that companies pour into designing, building, and sending them are proof of that. Given the constraint that we're stuck writing and consuming them, I'd rather have a technology that does a good job than a technology that makes me want to boil my laptop.

If you're afraid of HTML, by all means please check your email from a sandboxed VM in the terminal. But some poor chump is still going to be toiling away to make the latest Pottery Barn newsletter look great on a Blackberry, so we'd might as well build better tools.

Seriously. Would be great if somebody could just declare a new mime-type such as "text/html5" that could be used to activate modern html rendering in email clients and would be shipped alongside the existing "text/html" and "text/plain" components. Eventually when enough email clients support this, we could stop generating the legacy html emails and only include text/html5 and text/plain mime types in emails.

Devil's advocate: there's more to keeping email safe than just not allowing JavaScript. Most browsers let you have up to 255 drop shadows on a single element, which can really heat up your laptop. CSS animations can also cause havoc. Imagine loading a GIF from a server that just streams frames forever. You also don't want to immediately load images (for privacy reasons), and you probably also want to ban audio and video while you're at it. In a web email client, you don't want the styles of the email to affect the chrome of the app. <iframe>, <object>, and <embed> lead to a world of bad ideas. <base> and <dialog> could potentially cause unusual issues. I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but I'm sure data URIs could be abused somehow (data URI-encoded SVGs something something loading content dynamically?).

CSS can cause problems, too. @import could cause privacy issues, as could @font-face. If images are not pre-downloaded, @media and @page could reveal when you print a message and @supports could leak details about your mail client. `position: fixed` would need to be banned outright I'd think, if the message isn't sandboxed in an iframe.

HTML5 as a whole is designed for building applications, not for making pretty messages. You want to have a subset of HTML5, but not too strict of a subset. Some APIs (e.g., @font-face) probably can't be used as-is and need a replacement. And of course, it all needs to be somehow backwards-compatible.

If one is reading mail, a good quality MUA will not be "loading a GIF from a server" in the first place. The content to show should be all right there in the message to start with, included using multipart/, or it does not get shown.

* http://jdebp.eu./Proposals/gnksoa-mua.html#NoAutoFetchExtern...

Ugh. Hopefully unlike the serp results, nobody feels like they have to cave in here due to the carrot/stick Google wields in search.

If they do wield a similar influence because of the market share of Gmail, hopefully somebody challenges that under antitrust or some other consumer protection basis. Email doesn't need walled gardens. That's back to the AOL days. "You've got AMP mail!"

> AMP ~~for email~~ is a terrible idea

FTFY. I cannot wait for this cancer to die off. For now, I avoid anything by Google as much I can.

Didn't Outlook Express have this option about a decade ago? yeah it was with ActiveX plug-ins and Flash. Microsoft removed it because it was giving advertisers and the wrong kind of hackers tracking information and access to user's machines. Those were nasty security bugs.

While I don't see the security issue at a machine level being an issue since this will be done through canvas. I do see an issue with privacy. Its still JavaScript powering that fancy display. Which means JavaScript can write and read cookies and session values. JS can possibly do other bad things on your machine.

I wish my email would just stay email. Let the social networks do the fancy stuff. That's what they're for. Google could always go back a retool Google Plus. Let publishers do AMP mini-sites there.

>What Google wants to do is bridge that moat, essentially to allow applications to run inside emails, limited ones to be sure, but by definition the kind of thing that belongs on the other side of the moat.

How is this bad?

I do not understand the hate?

If you do not like the product then move on.

I can see this working well on a mobile devices, not sure how it will work on other platforms, but I'm definitely open to giving it a shot.

The best part about this is if I don't like it I can always switch.

The problem is that in this scenario someone else (i.e. the sender) is choosing the product/application they want to run on my device in my app. Unlike a web page, where I (hopefully) intend to use it and "pull" the app, this is designing a system where arbitrary apps and interfaces can be pushed to me by others, often not with my best interests in mind.

I don't want my email client to be part of such a system. If I want to follow the advice of "if you do not like the product then move on", then it's not sufficient for me to simply not use this feature in messages I send, this requires that messages I receive don't/can't use this feature.

> I do not understand the hate?

Oh, the hate is just the new version of the ASCII ribbon against HTML email...

Besides the ideological issues, is the HTML tag for AMP emails seriously going to be <html 4email> (html lightning-emoji4email)?

I wish they implemented this as a separate MIME type so emails could specify multi-part messages with text/plain, text/html and a text/amp (just for gmail).

it is a separate mime type

You're right - it looks like it's available as the text-x-amphtml MIME part. I missed that on the initial read-through.

A few months ago I set out to move to fastmail and then got lazy and didn't follow through. This is the kick in the butt I needed.

AMP is terrible for the Web too.

There are a number of threads here which seem to have been downvoted because of the perceived quality of the ideas they contain. However, I always thought that downvoting was meant to be reserved for low quality discussion, rather than disagreement. Has this changed, or was I always wrong?

People always have and always will downvoted for disagreement, whether they're supposed to or not.

While I don't like the idea of AMP cause, let's face it, it's change, it really is the next step of evolution for email. Email stopped being this sacred thing when you could create an HTML email.

i think that AMP is a way to make up for the fact that Chrome will be blocking ads tomorrow. Google has to do something to give publishers a way to reach people and make money otherwise publishers will begin to start charging Google in some way or take their business else where.

When you open an email, a publisher has your direct attention and being able to interact with you in a two way direction is HUGE.

Google is on a mission to own every corner of everything related to the Internet. Email sucks, but I'll keep my boring old email in lieu of Google shoving more targeted advertising in my face, thank you very much.

Personal communications are gone from email. They now happen in Whatsapp. Gradually some one-on-one business communications are also moving to Whatsapp. If Whatsapp ever figures out business communications at large, email is practically dead. Excluding viagra spam, this means that nearly 99% of legit communications that are today received in personal email accounts are automated emails (transactional or bulk email). No wonder why Google wants to reinvent email into some kind of personal engaging spot before it completely dies for personal use.

Living in the US I literally know 0 people who use or have ever used Whatsapp. That's not a judgement on their app, just a reality that in this country it's not something people use.

US is definitely the exception. I've visited South/Central America, Europe and at home in the UK and WhatsApp penetration is extremely high.

Not only US, barely anyone uses whatsapp in russia, for example.

Whatsapp usage varies wildly depending on region. A fragmented walled garden ecosystem populated by other apps like Messenger, Line, Kakao Talk, WeChat, etc will not kill email.

"A fragmented walled garden ecosystem" has also been a fair description of Internet electronic mail for quite a while, however. It was Balkanized years ago.

> AMP is, to begin with, Google exerting its market power to extend its control over others’ content. Facebook is doing it, so Google has to

The last thing Google needs to do these days is copy Facebook. Almost everything Facebook has done in the past few years has pushed users away from the platform.

Also, if Google's goal with AMP really was to "make the web faster" how exactly will integrating AMP web pages into email make email faster? Seems to me like it would make email slower...? (at least if we discount marketing spam).

And here I thought there was no way to make HTML email worse. Guess I was wrong.

I can't believe I read through this article and most all of the comments here with no mention of what the hell AMP actually is, so I did a bit of Googling so that someone somewhere won't have to.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerated_Mobile_Pages ): They are a competing technology with Facebook's Instant Articles that restricts the page from doing practically anything that isn't performance-minded up-front. That means very little loading, and all data calls are async. That means no document.write or other blocking calls that would prevent the page from loading. As culled from the wiki article and the amp project site, pages in AMP load in a second or less and consume very little data, making them optimal for mobile devices.

You left out the very important detail that practically speaking, your content also needs to be hosted on Google's CDN if you want to get any of the benefits that content creators are likely to care about (being boosted in SERPs).

I don't know how I missed that, I must have skimmed around that point, yes that is very important. Looking through the wiki page I found it quite easily, but it doesn't stick out as much on the ampproject official page.

Hosting on Google’s CDN is not a requirement. There are third party AMP-caches, for example Cloudflare runs one.

It would help if the anti-AMP hysteria stays to the facts.

Wow...pages that do less crap. We've really come a long ways from our webcrawler, Netscape roots...such progress. And to be clear, not pointing fingers, I'm honestly just astounded that a glorified, fundamentally unchanged monkey patched version of what we started with is where we are at...

This article just reminded me how much I miss Google Reader... still to this day can’t figure out why they canned it.

Can anyone explain what this would look like? Just an HTML email but with parts of it hosted on AMP’s CDN? Or the whole email is hosted on AMP, and non-AMP email clients just have a link (and cannot view their email without clicking on a link, and leaking the fact they viewed the email?)

Would it be possible to make a filter in FastMail that automatically deletes these emails? I can imagine spammers would love to send “You need an AMP client to view this email, click here”. Plus the point about privacy above.

Edit: I’d want it to send a reply, as I can imagine anyone with a Gmail account might be blocked from sending me an email. Possibly any companies on the AMP bandwagon.

This might be the push I need to get round to writing an IMAP gateway that strips HTML and only serves text/plain to my email client. I don’t need more HTML and tracking bullshit in my emails.

Almost certainly possible to make a regex matching filter to discard or file such emails into a folder :)

>See, email belongs to a special class. Nobody really likes it

Well, I like email. It does exactly what I need it to do. It doesn't have the pressures of chat or phone calls, and has the versatility to do all kinds of useful things. Best of all, it can't be broken by a single company and a stupid decision.

Did you continue reading after that sentence?

I also like forks, but I'm usually not telling people how great forks are. That's what the article says.

*AMP is a terrible idea

"Were people complaining that clicking “yes” on an RSVP email took them to the invitation site? Were they asking to have a video chat window open inside the email with the link? No. No one cares."

I don't want this new feature and am glad I moved away from gmail, but I think the author is mistaken if they think people don't want this. Some people don't want to leave their gmail app to click one box on a now slowly loading web page full of content/ads they don't care about. I procrastinate on some mail because I don't immediately feel like dealing with the context switch. Then the mail gets buried by others and I forget. I'm ok with that mode of operation and I can also see a lot of people not being ok with and being delighted by AMP in gmail.

When I read a phrase like:

>> allowing “engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.”

I immediately think advertisements.

The problem we have here, is that a VERY large percentage of 'normal' users, use gmail. As such, whatever Google do to 'enhance' the gmail experience, then the other email providers feel they have catch up by adding the same functionality.

If AMP ends up being natively supported inside your gmail inbox, then Microsoft will have no choice to support it also, lest people jump ship from Outlook.com to gmail. Once Microsoft add AMP support to Outlook.com, then they'll turn their attention to the Outlook client, and enable AMP there too.

Once that happens, AMP-Email will be a standard, and there will be no stopping it.

For me, if that happens, I'll be turning back on the 'plain text email only' option in my mail client.

I am currently a big fan of Google Inbox. I am loosing my fandom spirit more and more.

> I'll be turning back on the 'plain text email only' option > in my mail client.

I am with you on that. I would even go one step further. I would enable this option to only show pure text content. And to autorespond to emails without pure text with a message:

"In the spirit of the web. And in the spirit of AMP power emails (Google telling you, that these are faster) I only accept pure text emails. These are the fastest ones to send, deliver and consume.

Please, in the future refrain from sending me bloated code. And if you feel the need to include images - use the age old attachment function."

Is this only for gmail customers, or is Google sticking AMP links in outgoing emails?

That's legally risky for Google. They're not protected by an EULA if their outgoing email has hostile code and hits a non-Google customer.

Amp is a terrible idea.

Is this truly as terrible as the comments section here is acting like it is? More engaging email sounds somewhat interesting to me. Should it stay as stale as it is now? Maybe a few improvements for email development. A few standards here and there, maybe the ability to make use of css properly for once. I wouldn't mind some better looking emails that didn't require a bunch of images loading to be view-able or some improvements made to how emails are developed for those that do. Not that AMP solves that, but I'm happy to see the discussion on improving emails coming to light.

People who are unable to create a product and get someone to pay for it, take an existing product, reduce its utility and charge for the rest. Its like the airline baggage policy. This is stereotypical-MBA thinking.

In my job, I get a lot of automated emails from Github, our bug tracking system, our wiki system...

(Sometimes the idiots start replying to the automated emails!)

I really wish there was a better way to bridge that gap. I usually turn on conversation view (we use Outlook), to group all of the emails via ticket, pull request, ect. But, what I really want is my email client to just tell me what changed, and use an anchor hyperlink to take me there in the ticket, pull request, ect.

I think it's worth experimenting with viewing these tickets inside of an email client, but I'm not sure if I'd like that or not.

I like AMP. Brave browser seems to block most of the ads by default, and I get the speed benefits for free.

I really dislike ads or using my CPU cycles to mine bitcoins for unrelated entities (cough cough Salon).

Am I stealing the information these entities provide for free on open Internet connections? Maybe. I don't really care though. I also benefit similarly by gut bacteria processing my food, and also don't want them taking their "fair" share of my life by ending up in places they don't belong. This particular analogy is, of course, open for expansion.

> The moat is the one between communications and applications. Communications say things, and applications interact with things. There are crossover areas, but something like email is designed and overwhelmingly used to say things, while websites and apps are overwhelmingly designed and used to interact with things.

I agree with the distinction, but I believe that websites & email belong on the same side of the moat. Websites are meant to say things and applications are meant to interact with things.

I'm not actually against AMP being put in emails, but adding unnecessary functionality to emails under the banner of "AMP for email" definitely seems like a step too far.

I've left Gmail for Tutanota a long time ago. I prefer having a niche service that focuses on privacy and is committed to open source. They'll even release the app on F-Droid soon, couldn't be more psyched: https://tutanota.com/blog/posts/secure-mail-open-source

Why Tutanota? Which were the services you compared?

I didn't compare much, but to me Tutanota is exactly the opposite to Gmail and that's what I love. It's ad-free, no tracking, no scanning of data. Once it has the app on F-Droid it's the only email service (to my knowledge) that enables you to use it without any attachment to Google.

Hey man, email existed before google :) You can use whichever email service you want that's not google and use an open source email client like K-9 Mail or AOSP's Email client :)

Only non-standard emails won't work with POP3 or IMAP protocols. In those cases you need to use their specific program/protocols, yes. It seems Tutanota falls in this category, as does ProtonMail.

> See, email belongs to a special class. Nobody really likes it, but it’s the way nobody really likes sidewalks, or electrical outlets, or forks. It not that there’s something wrong with them. It’s that they’re mature, useful items that do exactly what they need to do. They’ve transcended the world of likes and dislikes.

Except forks are fine and e-mails are a dumpster fire.

> e-mails are a dumpster fire.

That's not surprising, but what exactly is broken about emails? And of those problems, which can't be fixed without breaking backwards-compatibility?

I've heard there are problems with verifiability, for example. Permitting backward-compatibility in security seems like you'd end up with the old-SSL problem.

I don't think AMP for email will have success. It works only for users with gmail, so all other email provider users are left out. Why should someone write an AMP email if it does not work for any client? And if gmail users don't like AMP mails they can just switch provider or trash them.

I don't see a problem here.

Couldn’t help but think of this story in the back of my head: https://staltz.com/the-web-began-dying-in-2014-heres-how.htm...

Finally! It's about time somebody made email accessible to people with a very slow connection ... /s

IMO it's already ridiculous the GMail app never even cached (a large) part of your messages on your device so you can use it offline.

Well this just speed up the process of me getting the hell off of Google's services.

We should start a boycott campaign against AMP for email. You know those browser banners for people who are using old versions of IE?

Use AMP HTML in every email to display a message about how AMP is toxic to the open web. Only AMP clients will see it.

I'll get down voted for saying this, but the HN crowd's hypocrisy is baffling.

1. Gmail is a channel that Google has under monetized for a decade. This is an opportunity for them to extract value from the said channel. If you're allergic to Google offering free services that use your data for advertising, go pay for email. Google isn't a charity and you aren't entitled to a Gmail of your choosing.

2. Apple is a prime example of successfully monetizing a "channel". They sell you hardware that apparently you own, but cannot run apps that haven't received Apple's blessing. Even their fucking charging port is proprietary (lighting) and to build an accessory compliant with iPhones, one has to pay an Apple tax of $7/unit that can easily be avoided with open standards such as uUSB. Never in the history of computing has your hardware required the manufacturer's blessing to run apps. Why do I mention this? Because an overwhelming majority of those foaming at the mouth at AMP are doing so on their iPhones and iPads - I hope the irony isn't lost on you folks.

3. If you find Apple's practices more abhorrent than AMP and consistently oppose both - congratulations, you're a minority whose reasoning isn't clouded by brand jingoism

4. If you called bullshit on Google because a) mobile pages can be fast(er) even without AMP and b) JavaScript was restricted within email for security, then your opposition to this proposal is the most accurate.


I'm not sure I understand your point. You're projecting a lot, there's more to the world of computers than Google and Apple.

At any rate you choose to buy into Apple ecosystem. A big email provider changing how email works is not the same thing. For the record I host my own email server and use mutt as my main email client. The only Apple device I own is an old pre-iphone iPod.

If Google changes the expectations of email users everywhere then it won't be long until you end up with a broken experience if you don't support AMP email out of the box. Exactly what happened with HTML email: it's not rare these days to receive a multipart/alternative email where the plain text version is simply "see HTML". If AMP mail becomes mainstream it'll be like this but worse. Soon you'll have an HTML page that will tell you to "see AMP content".

I don't know if it's completely on purpose but that's by the book "embrace, extend and extinguish" by Google there.

Falling into the 3-4 crowd myself I also agree with this. Changing emails - perhaps in an automatic fashion - to use AMP is going to do nothing but harm to anyone outside Google. Image inclusion the AMP way [1] alone will ruin HTML email for other services. If Google really wanted to improve emails they would push for full compliance HTML5 support. Because if emails could be built with grid layouts, content could be more semantic, you wouldn't need a plain text version, we'd use less mark up and save on server space and bandwidth.

[1] https://ampbyexample.com/components/amp-img/

Amazing. That link is solid white with JS disabled.

Why does Google routinely refuse to display text unless JS is enabled? Their developer blog does almost the same thing.

It works for me with JS disabled.

I think AMP is built on web components, which require JS.

I'm not seeing where you're demonstrating that Apple only affects people who "choose to buy into the Apple ecosystem" but gmail affects everybody.

I mean, there's truth to the idea that Google have more sway when it comes to trends on the internet, but when you say that a "a big email provider changing how email works", Apple could easily be the big email provider in that sentence

Because Apple owns its ecosystem. It owns iOS and the API apps use. It owns the app store.

Google doesn't own the email ecosystem. It's a decentralized system where thousands of actors exchange messages using standardized protocols. The last people who did what Google is doing were Microsoft. Remember winmail.dat? Remember the various hacks and options that litter open source mail clients and POP/IMAP servers to work around quirks and bugs in Outlook?

Just looking at my muttrc I find:

    # MS Outlook seems to like sending emails using cp1252 but setting the
    # charset to iso-8859-1
    charset-hook ^iso-8859-1$ cp1252
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Dovecot has a bunch of custom options as well. That's what happens when a major actor starts disrespecting the standards, out of ignorance, out of hubris or out of spite.

Between that and how Google seems to want to force Chrome down everybody's throat at all costs it really seems that somebody at Alphabet found an old Microsoft "howto" from the late 90's and decided that was a good plan.

>Apple could easily be the big email provider in that sentence

I don't understand, are you saying I shouldn't criticize Google for doing something because I don't criticize Apple for not doing it? Trust me if Apple ever pushes some custom "iMail" format I'll say the same thing.

I agree completely with your observation about Google EEE here.

Just wanted to say that you can read HTML emails in Mutt by having a browser, like Links2 or Lynx, do the formatting.


> At any rate you choose to buy into Apple ecosystem.

Yes and if I don't, too bad. I just can't iMessage the rest of my family who did.

Yesterday the HN discussion was about the terrible state of messaging and the roles many companies played in getting to where we are now.

Email works pretty well between multiple different providers or even your own server. How do plans that will “accidentally” take email closer to the current state of messaging help the internet work better?

What's stopping you from sending and receiving regular sms, mms messages to your iPhone using family? It's not like there is a separate app for iMessage and text messages.

Your SMS messages will even go to their iPads and Macs.

Another example of this was IE's non-standard page rendering standards years ago.

> 1. Gmail is a channel that Google has under monetized for a decade.

I disagree. Gmail brought Google millions of customers. It's all about the ecosystem that they are building, which helps them retain customers. If you use Gmail, than there is higher chance that you will use Google Drive than competition. Another example of this is Google Keep. There is no reason for them to have free notes app, other than making you use more Google products.

Exactly, this is platform economics 101. If you missed this then read: Parker, G. G., Van Alstyne, M. W., & Choudary, S. P. (2016). Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy and How to Make Them Work for You.

Gaining customers doesn't mean monetizing, and it's particularly relevant to point out that a channel is under monetized specifically when this channel has a lot of users.

I highly doubt that mandatory monetisation of every channel is a sound economic strategy.

EDIT: While not intentional, that was a bit flippant without extra arguments, my apologies. Also, this is more of a general "abstract" comment; Google operates in a real-world, concrete business context that it has to adapt to, and I am not burdened with knowing the details of that.

Google (the search engine), Gmail, and really almost everything in Google's ecosystem are essentially freemium apps since before the words "freemium" and "app" were coined, let alone combined.

You can use Google for free, but if you're trying to sell something you can use it's advertising.

You can use Gmail, and other the services the implicit Google account it gives, for free, but for the niche use cases there are things like Gmail business, or extra disk space on Google Drive once you run out of space to upload those big photos and videos from your phone, and so on.

What Google has expertly done is position itself as a public utility of the internet, despite being a private company. Whatever they are planning to do, I think that if they mess with that too much they risk a lot.

That is what I believe adamsvystun's point was: compared to most other monetisation options, ensuring that they keep this "public utility" position in the public eye is the most lucrative form of long-term monetisation for Google.

EDIT2: It gets worse the more I think about this: messing with email is especially risky, because email itself is tied very strongly to one's internet identity. It is the passport of the web. Think of all the "sign up/log in with" options: email is always the fallback option. So not messing that up is incredibly important to Google.

I don't quite buy into the public utility thing. Any Google product has competitors. The reason people use Google products is because Google advertises its new products on its products people already use massively. I don't think people actually see it as a public utility and are unaware of the competition. When you're in use-case A and suddenly you have a link from the same service to subscribe to use-case B, there's some effort required if you want to study the alternatives, and people prefer the easy way. Google crawls its way from one oligopoly to another this way.

No, the reason is someone at Google had the idea to make a notes app, then they use the data from that app to monetize.

Nice try but there is no logic between your points 1 and 2 to come to the third.

Apple sells hardware and is not a monopoly, so if their customers are happy with their choice then good for them.

On the other hand Google is a monopoly, so a lot of people are not ok with them abusing their position to hijack the web (that they already “own”) and email.

Edit: typo

Their search products are a monopoly, their email is not.

I provide paid email services for my clients, they can use Gmail if they want, or not. But for SEO, it's Google all the way down...

I’m not sure gmail meets the legal definition of a monopoly, but 3 months ago, gmail started to randomly mark some of my emails “spam”, and it has caused me non trivial financial damage, as it turns out about 90% of the people I correspond with are using google’s mail servers, whether @gmail.com or through g-suite.

Feels as monopolish as any other monopoly i’ve seen in technology.

I use Gmail at home but my job requires me to use Office 365. A non-trivial percentage of people I regularly correspond with are using whatever their ISP provided when they signed up.

I've been in your position so I understand your frustration, but what you're describing is not evidence of a monopoly.

People can still run their own email server if they want, and it will work just fine, and receive and deliver mail to other mail servers.

A monopoly situation would have some kind of limits enforced, correct?

I have dealt with spam issues with Gmail and solved them all. I send HTML formatted email to many Gmail accounts. I suspect you have not setup SPF, DKIM or are blacklisted on spam lists. Or if you've done all this, possibly the formats for your emails is suspect. Either way, it's solvable. At the very least, your clients could white list your domain.

Edit: I am not saying it's pleasant, but it's hardly monopolistic behavior...

> A monopoly situation would have some kind of limits enforced, correct?

No. A monopoly simply means market domination. It can arise naturally, as has been the case for Google in search in the past.

Microsoft had a monopoly on operating systems without "enforced limits".

The specific legal tests often require e.g. "over 80% of relevant market" by some measures - and I'm not sure Google mail qualifies as a monopoly under this definition.

p.s. having a monopoly isn't even illegal - abusing a monopoly position is. It feels to me that Google is, in many ways, abusing its dominant, perhaps monopoly, position in mail handling.

> People can still run their own email server if they want, and it will work just fine,...

> I suspect you have not setup SPF, DKIM or are blacklisted on spam lists. Or if you've done all this, possibly the formats for your emails is suspect.

In what sense is this "work[ing] just fine?" "Sorry, we threw away your mail for some random reason, and we won't tell you about it" seems like poor service.

>"Sorry, we threw away your mail for some random reason, and we won't tell you about it" seems like poor service.

I did testing and found it was not random. Also, maybe my experience running SpamAssassin in the past helped me. Look up how SpamAssassin filters emails and it may help you with your problem.

There's nothing stopping end users from using non-Google search engine.

Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo... they're all viable products that you can use to accomplish 90ish% of what Google could find, and maybe even more now that Google strips historical data (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16153840, from a month ago).

Since you're mentioning SEO, I just checked and 15.8% of searches for my website came from non-Google search engines in the last month (in my case, Yandex and DDG are the most popular ones). Bing is also taking a huge chunk of the traffic thanks to Windows 10 using it in the start menu, whether you like it or not. And while one example isn't viable enough to make general statements, it's clear that alternatives do exist and are used extensively.

It's a product that's superior when compared to its competitors. It's not a monopoly though.

> There's nothing stopping end users from using non-Google search engine.

Just so everyone's clear, monopoly doesn't mean (nearly) 100% market share; it means a large enough market share to be able to manipulate the market.

So, to elaborate on your first point, I think you're saying that the ease of switching search engines means that a market share necessary to manipulate the search market would be near 100%, much higher than Google has. Am I reading you correctly?

Do you have an economic or legal reference for that definition of "monopoly"?

Since search engines are all free to use, many of the criteria of a monopoly seem hard to apply, but the classic defintions I'm familiar with include things such as "no reasonable substitute" which is not the case for Google Search.

Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors. That is how that term is used here: a "monopolist" is a firm with significant and durable market power.


From wikipedia The lowest yet market share of a company considered "dominant" in the EU was 39.7%

Google is dominate for sure.

Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo are not a list of competitors. Yahoo is based on Bing & Google¹. DDG uses a lot of sources, but I believe the bulk of results come from Yahoo and Bing.

I agree there are options, but they are Bing and Yandex. The others are just mashups.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo!_Search

Something can be a monopoly in market, but not in another.

Google isn't a monopoly for users, it's a monopoly for developers. You can't get users without being on Google.

Only if I can replace one company with another, at roughly equal results, can the market be considered competitive.

I can't delist my site on Google and replace those users with Bing users.

If each search engine had only 5% or 10% of the market, though, I could. And I might. That's what a competitive market looks like.

Google is, from that perspective, a monopoly.

You're describing a monopsony, not a monopoly.

And while Google has monopsonic power, it isn't the sole player in the market so it's not a true monopsony. Facebook, Twitter, and other channels have control as well. If you still disagree, look at how widespread Facebook's open graph standards are as proof of the market catering to these companies' purchasing power.

Or just look at the header on the article: https://i.imgur.com/XlGgTaw.png

I would tend to agree, but not their email. That's easily replaced.

Is it? Can you simply avoid emailing GMail users and continue?

Not really.

And yet, thanks to their broken spam filters, you may have to.

Google's market is advertising. If you want to advertise in search, you do not have the freedom to avoid Google and just spend all your money with Bing.

Their email _is_ dominant enough to be considered a monopoly.

Simply because if they start pushing some format, everyone must go along with them. Your private server can afford to not be inter operable with Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL, but not Google.

And you can rest assured that email you send, anywhere, will eventually be forwarded to someone on a Google server. If not directly, than via Google Apps.

But in literal terms as well: It happens all the time that I ask for someone's email, and they respond with the username and assume the "@gmail.com".

If by Microsoft you mean Exchange server, not being compatible will be a literal deal breaker in doing business.

An awful lot of big players won’t host their email on someone else’s service, so gmail is just not an option. If you deal with any business using primarily windows, there will also be a huge probability it’s running a Microsoft stack in full, from account management, email to file hosting.

"Your private server can afford to not be inter operable with Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL, but not Google"

Seems we are not living on the same planet.

What do they do from an SMTP point of view that's different to the usual/RFCs?

> Your private server can afford to not be inter operable with Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL, but not Google.

Citation needed. This is the opposite of much of the world of work, where emails often both originate and terminate in Exchange Servers, not touching gmail servers.

Don't be ridiculous, Google is a platform company. Any service they create contributes to the same platform. Hence, if search is a monopoly so is the rest of the services.

More important:

1. You knew the trade-off when you purchased an Apple device.

2. This is an unexpected change on a service your digital identity is tied to.

That's why the equivalence the OP is making here is absurd.

It’s not like people have been warning about (2) years ago, pointing out that tying your digital identity to a free service provider puts you at the mercy of its decision making. If people at least used their own domain and forwarded mail to gmail, the fallout would be limited. But alas, people don’t.

Nice try, but there's no logic to choosing restrictive technologies under the guise of the manufacturer not being a monopoly (which is debatable if the segment under consideration is "phones greater than $500").

Shooting heroin is a choice, but it isn't wise, just as choosing to institute the manufacturer as an app gatekeeper, nay UNIVERSAL overlord of the hardware, software, services & content - something unprecedented in history.

And you're making me defend Google though I do not want to, but for accuracy's sake, they are neither a monopoly in email nor are they forcing other providers to choose AMP within their email. Just download all your Gmail data via IMAP and siphon it off to Apple's email client/server. And pray hard that Apple will CHOOSE to let you read emails tjhat weren't originally received/sent via their server/hardware/asshole

> I'll get down voted for saying this

No, you'll get down voted for the way you are saying it. There's a difference, and it's an important one.


It's not wrong that AMP is a terrible thing in a pretty package.

While the idea of having standards for mobile and slow connection might be a noble one, forcing everyone into it by using mobile search results as ransom is an evil practice.

Especially since it's a google run, if it was set up as a non profit foundation with people on the board from different major players as a collaborative project then, yes It might be different.

And I don't disagree with that. I think the view that drives AMP is misguided and self-serving for Google.

I do, however, like to come to HN because it tends to be a very civil space in which to share opinions, not a vehicle for attention seekers to spout whatever false equivalences their brain just come up with.

As far as I'm concerned everyone here is entitled to their opinion and I have never seen anyone's voice silenced in this forum. But when you start a message with "I know I'm going to get down voted but..." you are hedging on the value of your own opinion. You know it's unpopular but at the same time you are so concerned with the public validation of it that need to present yourself as a victim and the rest of us as some kind of oppressors.

Saying something unpopular in most cases shouldn't get you downvoted, but often "I know I'm going to get down voted but..." also is a lead in to complaints of hypocrisy. It reminds me of a friend that used to start off particularly rude statements by saying "I don't want to be rude but..."

> It reminds me of a friend that used to start off particularly rude statements by saying "I don't want to be rude but..."

I don't see the contradiction here.

I interpret these kind of phrases as: "I don't like to be rude, and normally I'm not, but in this case I need to make an exception."

Frankly, not everybody actually meant to say that, but this interpretation still helps to deal with those situations in a civil, non-escalating way.

I suppose, although the normally I'm not would mean not hearing it so often that it becomes a well-known identifying personal tic.

I challenge you to make a positive comment towards AMP on Hacker News without getting downvoted.

Sometimes it really is the content.

Oddly, I was seeing the opposite. General criticism seems to get downed quickly. Often with no dialogue.

> No, you'll get down voted for the way you are saying it. There's a difference, and it's an important one.

Voting for the shape instead of the content is superficial.

No, it's essential discussion quality management. Doesn't matter how good your argument is if you're so rude/condescending/etc that no one can engage with your point.

You're making a lot of assumptions about your readers here, and you're doing so in a style that's not going to convince those for whom those assumptions hold...

I'd just like to point out here that Fastmail is a great alternative to Gmail, one I like much better and regret not switching to it sooner. If you have your own domain, migration is as easy as importing your email and changing a few MX records, and it costs $3/mo for the largish package if you prepay.

The thing that's missing here is the email _client_ story. I really like Google's Inbox and there's no amount of money I can pay anyone else for a similar experience.

Honest question: do you think you really like it or are you really used to it?

When Google made the move to Inbox, I switched because I wanted to be using their newest interface. Over time I came to absolutely hate it and that drove me away from Gmail.

My wife still uses it so I occasionally find myself in the Inbox app on our tablet. Just a few days ago, actually, I read something in her inbox and for the life of me I could not figure out to mark it as unread from the inbox list. Maybe I was just missing something obvious, but it was very frustrating to not have such a simple action easily available.

I find it surprising that my search seems more comprehensive and faster in mutt than by the king-of-search's very own.

Yeah, I use notmuch in emacs for my mail, and searching is way better than in gmail.

Gmail's interface is very limiting, actually. It's pretty good for a web app, and probably better than Outlook/Exchange, but when the competition is so poor it's easy to seem good.

> do you think you really like it or are you really used to it?

Chiming in with a "both" - I tried switching away from Inbox for a bit but I love me them bundles. I don't want to switch between a bunch of folders, I just want mail in those folders to appear grouped in my inbox

Edit: and Snooze. I don't think I'll ever like using a client that can't snooze an email anymore

I'm someone who definitely dislikes it but I'm too used to it. The automatic categorization is so useful that I feel like I can't be without it.

Yes I really like Inbox.

It works really well as a 'TODO' list for email, plus with niceties for travel and what not.

I really like how Inbox encourages getting to "inbox zero" (and maintaining it). It makes it very easy to archive things, snoozing emails for later is great, and reminders allow to add some short todos to the inbox where they are less likely to be missed.

I thought the same, until I actually made the switch. Mileage varies of course, but in my case it turns out I don't miss any features at all. Ever since email clients started to look more like todo apps I've hunted for the perfect client, but turns out I didn't need much more than a simple client and some flags. It also helps that FastMail makes email aliases super easy, so I have many different emails going to the same inbox, allowing for super fast and easy filtering.

Oh god yes. I have a few aliases and gmail was terrible with them. Fastmail is perfect.

I have lots of aliases. Anytime I sign up to anything, create an account on a site or otherwise hand out an email address it'll most likely be an alias. My pattern is basically <top-level domain>@<catch-all inbox>.<mydomain> and this lets me ban an alias quickly if I find it's being misused (i.e. sold or leaked to a third party.) No need to deal with dodgy unsubscribe methods that probably doesn't work any way, that alias is just dead now.

FastMail does this incredibly easy since you can set up an inbox to allow any alias, so you don't have to create them up front. I just type it in and whenever an email comes in it'll be routed properly. Gmail has this too I believe, but only with the + syntax (e.g. myalias+account@gmail.com) but unfortunately too many places have broken email validation routines that doesn't know how to deal with + signs.

Not only that, but Fastmail has native support for this. You can do alias@user.yourdomain.com or user@alias.yourdomain.com and it will be routed to user@yourdomain.com. Domain-wide, no-fuss spam protection.

> If you're allergic to Google offering free services that use your data for advertising, go pay for email.

... and don't ever write emails to anyone who uses GMail. And tell all your friends who use GMail they shouldn't write emails to you.

I use Fastmail and I can communicate with everyone just fine. I simply had to follow their instructions for setting up my domain. Without that configuration, near every email provider will reject your mail - for good reason.

"you're allergic to Google offering free services that use your data for advertising, go pay for email"

Yes, email is such an important tool that it would make sense for all of us to pay for it. That said, the big internet companies trained millions of users to expect everything for free on the internet (intentionally or not). Many people seriously think "if it is on the internet, it should be free - I am paying for my internet connection, aren't I?". If you don't believe me, try talking to a non-HN, non-tech-savvy person about it.

The fault is on these companies as much as the users. It would take a big change in mindset to make non-advertising models work in consumer world

Indeed. If I try to offer non-gmail email options to people, even here on HN, people will go “Oh. But they cost money”, as if that’s something deeply unnatural.

Me, I’m happy to pay, because it means that I know I’m a customer, not a product.

This probably isn't so true for the pay email services, but I just wanted to note that these two things are by no means mutually exclusive. Plenty of services are more than happy to take your money and "make you the product." It's so easy to do on the web, few can resist.

For me, I confess paying for it has the risk of it being held hostage if I miss payments. Worse, my data can turn into leverage for increases price.

Which is why you should always choose a service which offers full access via standards-based protocols so that you always have the option of owning your own data.

And why I regularly download backups of my email from Fastmail.

The only concern I have with them raising prices or disappearing entirely is the service interruption of moving my DNS to some other email provider.

I'm assuming bitrot of your backups is also a concern. Or do you have a suggestion on automating integrity checks of your data?

Completely agreed. You should also not turn yourself into a hoarder of data just because you can. :)

> 1. Gmail is a channel that Google has under monetized for a decade. This is an opportunity for them to extract value from the said channel. If you're allergic to Google offering free services that use your data for advertising, go pay for email. Google isn't a charity and you aren't entitled to a Gmail of your choosing.

This is part of the reason for why I've always used a vanity domain for e-mail that uses Gmail as a backend. I've used Gmail since beta invites were scarse, but there are a variety of reasons for why I won't trust any given e-mail provider permanently. The fact that most of them are free is just one, albeit an important one.

I'm sure Google could monetise Gmail more than they have, but I've always thought the real business success of Gmail was sharing its login with google.com and moving Google to a position where many searches are done with a personal identity that they can track anywhere. It seems before Gmail there wouldn't be much reason to actually log in to Google, and having users logged in makes their product better and I'm guessing gets them way better data.

I think that Youtube was more successful in that space (for regular people at least). I base this entirely on the fact that around the time of G+, the redirect urls for all Google products started going to YT, which I took to mean that YT had a much broader cookie pool.

FWIW, I agree entirely with your point, but I think Youtube is the secret sauce that makes it work.

Is there a way to keep my.name@gmail.com but moving to another provider?

I'm quite a bit uneasy with Google lately but it's not feasible for me to move to another e-mail provider because my user account on many other websites is tied to my Gmail account and not all websites support e-mail changing.

At this point, I would argue that Gmail reached a public infrastructure status and it's not acceptable of Google to take actions without public consent.

It is perfectly acceptable if Google decides to charge for de services as it will happen with any public infrastructure that has running costs but it's not acceptable for Google to force people into situations or engineer their behavior just because provides the service free of charge.

For example, in my country, the electricity is generated by private for-profit corporations. However it would not be acceptable if these corporations start changing the voltage of the frequency of the electricity and force people to use devices designed specifically for that electricity network.

I don't remember Google forcing me into using Gmail but I also don't remember anyone forcing Google to provide an e-mail service. They did a great job, it revolutionized e-mail but they did it to compete with Microsoft and Yahoo, thus for profit(back in the day everyone was using Hotmail or Yahoo).

> Is there a way to keep my.name@gmail.com but moving to another provider?

Yes and no. GMail does support IMAP access (Go here to enable it: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#settings/fwdandpop). IMAP is a standard that allows you to access an inbox remotely.

OTOH, as long as you are using @gmail.com in your address, you are at their mercy. Go to https://www.gandi.net and purchase a domain name, it'll cost you <$10/year and you will own it. Make it nice and professional (yourlastname.net for example). firstname@yourlastname.net is the sort of email address you'll own your entire life.

FastMail is a paid alternative to gmail which people consistently recommend here. I am happy with GSuite personally as I really like the GMail interface, but you can look here if you want an alternative: https://www.fastmail.com/ (~$5/month plan for custom domain)

GSuite is the paid version of Google's services (~$5/month); as you said, it is perfectly fine for Google to charge for services. And as it happens, you can use your own domain on GSuite, so you could use your new email there. https://gsuite.google.com/together/

PS: If anyone is having trouble and needs help setting this up, shoot me an email (profile).

I like Gmail a lot, my problem is with the lock-in due to the domain.

I don't really want to move to some other service - what I want is the assurance that Google is not going to do something funny with my account or service and unfortunately if they do I will have no recourse.

When I got my Gmail account in 2004 Google was this amazing website that will give away free services and their motto was "Don't Be Evil", at least that was my impression. I still like most of their services, just don't like the "free" deals anymore.

It takes time to solve the lock-in, but it's worth it. I started switching to my own domain 18 months before I jumped to FastMail. First my new email address forwarded to Gmail, and I just switched which email was on each account as I used it. When I switched to FastMail and repointed my email there, most new email came with it, and then I'd keep an eye on Gmail to see what still came there, so I knew what I needed to change.

I've been switched for over a year now, and I check Gmail once every couple weeks now, instead of daily, like I did when I first switched. (I also have a Gmail vacation responder set up to automatically email literally anyone who emails it to tell them I don't check it often and what my new address is.) Yes, I'll probably keep the address forever, but it certainly isn't used much anymore.

Ironically, I had issues with my Gmail address long before I wanted to change providers: My main Google account address has my old last name, and Google's archaic infrastructure[1] for identity provides no way to change it. I had a newer Gmail address forwarding mail to it, because I didn't have a way to move all of my purchases like Android apps and the like, over to my new address' account.

[1]Microsoft has no issue with your account having multiple Microsoft-owned and/or third party email addresses and letting you change the primary one. There's some wonkiness with different services not recognizing your primary email has changed, but largely speaking, this is manageable. I have the same Microsoft account as I had years ago, everything carried over, but now identified by my current email address.

If you have no issue with Google's services other than wanting the assurance that you can get support and are treated like a paying customer, I recommend GSuite. Although I'll (hypocritically, since I don't use it) still recommend Fastmail anyway since I think GMail needs way more competition. I'll let actual fastmail users convince you there :)

I think at some point I will give Fastmail a try, thanks :)

And Gmail needs more competition than just FastMail - so make sure to look at RunBox and Zoho. I pay for both and both are excellent services, having switched from FastMail after their huge pricing shift a couple years ago.

Zoho's webmail is currently much better than RunBox but the latter is undergoing a beta test of a new modern interface.

I've used Gandi for years, but only migrated to FastMail fully about two years ago I think. The migration was painless, much more so than I expected, thanks to the integrated support for migration. It's a great setup, can't think of a single instance where I've had an issue with it. It just works.

The only thing really bothering me is that you can't seem to set a default email app in iOS so mailto: links won't open the FastMail client. This is a super annoying client issue, but the service works incredibly well, no complaints here.

N.B. I have no affiliation with FastMail or Gandi whatsoever, just a very happy customer.

I love Gmail's UI but years ago I realized that I couldn't trust my online identity to a single entity.

What I did was to sign up for Fastmail with my own custom domain and forward stuff to my @gmail.com address. This way I continue using Gmail but with my own domain.

I could do this with GSuite (and in fact I did for a couple of years) but GSuite accounts often have limitations compared to regular Gmail accounts and I didn't want to deal with that.

What kinds of limitations?

I'm assuming robteix is referring to various features which are first pushed to regular Google accounts before GSuite accounts.

Google has been a lot better about this lately, but it still happens.

AWS WorkMail is also a good alternative, I'm looking into that now that I have a domain name I can consider "home".

> Is there a way to keep my.name@gmail.com but moving to another provider?

Yes, forward them to your new email, preferably using your own domain name. Start giving out your new email to people, reply to your gmail email from your new email. It takes time but after a few years you can ditch the gmail completely.

That is not entirely true though, is it? The forwarded e-mails won't become non-Gmail over time and I will still be dependant on Google to forward the e-mails to me.

Somewhat. You have to remember to notice and tell everybody who sends to the gmail address to change. Some mail programs make this easy for your friends some do not. Over a few years people update their address book, and eventually almost nothing goes to gmail anymore.

Late last year I moved from gmail to fastmail + custom domain. Fastmail's migration tools made moving my messages extremely easy. Changing my email address on the various sites I use was a bit tedious, but I never once found a site that didn't allow it to be changed.

> I'll get down voted for saying this, but the HN crowd's hypocrisy is baffling.

I did not know we were a uniform, homogeneous crowd...

Apple can lock down their devices however they damn please. No matter how much they lock it down, it will not directly affect the majority of people, who use Android. If Apple made everyone use Apple News, only a minority of people will be inconvenienced. (Incidentally, the MFi program has nothing to do with this.)

But _publishers_ are pressured to support AMP because Google, the most popular search engine by far, prioritizes AMP results. If they do anything with AMP they can likely have their way. And the same will likely apply for email.

This comment is quite judgmental. I’m wondering how it’s the top comment

First rule of comments on HN, you don’t talk about downvotes.

> 3. If you find Apple's practices more abhorrent than AMP and consistently oppose both - congratulations, you're a minority whose reasoning isn't clouded by brand jingoism

Yay! I won something on the internet today!

1. I do pay for email, just recently renewed my 2 year plan on fastmail. But I still do have a gmail account since I used to be heavy Google user until they started to be bad. I am still trying to move away from Google services all along, but it quite hard. The only thing I can't move away from is Youtube because there is no alternatives that has the content.

2. I use an iPhone, but it's only because I believe that Apple respects my privacy more than Google does with Android. I don't really like using an Apple device, because some of the reasons you mentioned. But I value my privacy over those things.

3. I consistenly opposes both and I really hope that I am not in the minority.

4. Yes. Thank you.

> If you're allergic to Google offering free services that use your data for advertising, go pay for email. Google isn't a charity and you aren't entitled to a Gmail of your choosing.

The problem is that Gmail is the most prominent e-mail provider and at the same time they make it difficult for other e-mail providers to operate, especially small ones. Gmail's spam detection is totally opaque and you can't do much if your mail lands in junk folder. For this single reason Google is no longer in a position when you can cut them some slack for anything related to Gmail.

I have one point of contention: Google is already monetizing Gmail with Gsuite. Gmail is to Gsuite as Fedora is to RHEL. It's a public testbed where they try out new ideas before moving them into LTS.

Regardless, many of the disagreements with you seem to have stopped reading at (2). I am completely aware of the irony of my using Google devices while simultaneously criticizing them for their shitty practices. If you were to point that out to me I'd agree with you. Pointing that out to me isn't a personal attack, it's a statement of the facts of human nature: we are all hypocrites.

I can honestly see why AMP is a clever idea from a technical standpoint. Heck, if Google made the switch while keeping the same look and feel (minus the dynamic content), I doubt most people would notice beyond "Gmail somehow got faster."

> If you're allergic to Google offering free services that use your data for advertising

Just as a reminder for everyone (and I appreciate that the parent comment does not directly claim that this is the case), Google claims not scan or read your emails in Gmail to show you ads, nor to sell your information to advertisers.

Source: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/6603?hl=en

Just thought I'd point that out before the FUD/tin-foil kicks in too much :)

Also a reminder, Google has lied about this in the past. E.g. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016/3/23/alumni-lawsuit-a... .

That being said, I think it's probably true that they've stopped doing so.

Your argument boil some down to ‘its Google's platform, they can do with the want with it’.

Which is true. It's equally true that people can point out if changes Google make are problematic for users.

No hypocrisy required.

Never in the history of computing has your hardware required the manufacturer's blessing to run apps.

Except for every game console that has existed since the early 80s.


c) without amp sites work with no misbehaving header bar that they cannot fix. Every time I scroll down it pops up. If you have an iphone, you know how safari header behaves and it is convenient/usual. This damned amp plate only allows you to scroll down and close. Note: I’m not talking about “tap clock to scrool to top” here. If you don’t understand these UX details, well, don’t blame then.

I’m pretty okay with google substituting ssl/dns/content even for their cash flow, I don’t care until they turn my browser into common-standards web crap. It turns safari into chrome, which I tested on an expensive sony sevice and couldn’t stand any more than two days.

Edit: I know that my “don’t care” is not popular among hn users, but it resembles regular non-tech folks thinking — amp is that thing on some sites that annoys you when you scroll and share links. 98% of us really don’t care and notice inconvenience only.

AMP header breaks even Chrome UX for me.

It somehow ends hiding the address bar and replacing it with the AMP one once I've started to scroll down, and the only solution is to scroll all the way to the top again.

I have the address bar set to never hide, which makes this even more annoting.

I would think that Google uses your Gmail to build your profile and to serve better ads to you. There is nothing more personal than your private email, so having access to your private things is a gold mine for their ad business.

What a tremendously unconstructive post.

>I'll get down voted for saying this

Well don't mind if I do. (read the guidelines friend, this kind of crap is specifically frowned upon).

> Google isn't a charity and you aren't entitled to a Gmail of your choosing.

This is a pet peeve of mine. What does this mean? That you can't force to charge their ways? Yeah, maybe you can't. Doesn't mean you're not allowed to make criticism? If course not. The argument "they're a private company therefore they do what they please" is a facile but invalid way to shut down criticism.

>You can't complain about Google because Apple does other unrelated bad stuff.

Well and you can't complain about Apple because Monsanto does even worse stuff and I don't see you mentioning then. Classic whataboutism.

In other words, if you really wanted to do constructive criticism you would have (1) presented your arguments clearly instead of playing the victim in your very first sentence, and (2) you would have limited yourself to the facts of the matter and not to external stuff (which you only kinda did in your 4th point).

> Gmail is a channel that Google has under monetized for a decade

Not because they're all nice and charitable.

But because Google sometimes sucks at monetizing things.

They already make a profit without AMP in Gmail.

I have had a corporate Gmail in the past, and will probably get it again for a new company. is it going to be AMPed?

I don't want a webpage in my e-mail. HTML e-mails are already abused so much, with fake links, and terrible marketing. And it doesn't help to quit gmail, I am sure this will spread like fire to all other clients.

Is this how they try to increase profits now?

Given the decline of everything Google lately, I can actually see it happening. But going for full profits instead of what made them good so far, will just be one of the final nails in the coffin.

So what's the fallback for non-amp clients that receive an amp email?

Soooo, is it now that someone shall explain what exactly is this AMP thing in a tldr? No really into searching for it. Where do people actually see or use this tech? I don't think I ever used it.

One thing I have a hard time understanding: Microsoft got in trouble for including IE with Windows. Why is Google given a free pass to basically shape internet however they like?

Because according to the law, Windows was a monopoly regarding desktop operating systems, but Google services aren't.

there weren't any alternatives back then. there are plenty alternatives to gmail luckily enough

I'm paying for Google Apps for Business / G Suite. Does that make me more immune from these types of shenanigans?


Someone who, when seeing something for free, reaches for his pistol.

Silicon Valley has been out of ideas since the late 1990s. Look at Google trying to "fix" email, a system that simply is not broken.

I'm just now finding out that google is planning AMP for email. :(

It seems almost comical. On the one hand, we are constantly told that email is losing out to modern instant messaging avenues for communication. On this hand, the plan for competing is to try and make it more heavy weight? Reminds me of when Wave supposedly was going to remake email.

I suspect someday I'll just be a luddite, as mentioned in another thread. I really hope this is not that day.

I will put it out here and now: Gmail and me are done if Google goes ahead with the AMP-lification of email.

For sure, it'll finally provide me the impetus to move to a service like Fastmail/ProtonMail/etc.

I would contribute to a campaign to help FastMail support multiple labels on messages. It’s the only thing keeping me tied to Gmail.

The challenge is those labels aren't standards-based. Gmail has all sorts of weird issues when you interact with it over IMAP. Even Google's own Takeout will end up making multiple copies of your messages, one per label, as it converts to folders. For a while I still had Gmail but used platforms Google didn't support with first-party apps, and I had a lot of pain points. (Gmail also likes to "archive" items [or remove that particular label] that you tell Gmail to "delete" via IMAP. It's annoying.)

FastMail does an excellent job hanging on real standards, and so supporting these Gmail-specific features requires that the standards themselves, support such things.

FastMail is pioneering IMAPs successor:


In the spec, they supercede IMAP folders with “keywords”, which are comparable to labels in Gmail.

“Users may add arbitrary keywords to an email. For compatibility with IMAP, a keyword is a (case-sensitive) string of 1–255 characters in the ASCII subset %x21–%x7e (excludes control chars and space), and MUST NOT include any of these characters: ( ) { ] % * " \”

Indeed, and as the case is "The data model is backwards compatible with both IMAP folders and gmail-style labels".

Even so, unless you have a wide multiplatform selection of JMAP-based apps which work properly with labels, you are better off with folders.

EDIT/Am at rate limit: I survived migrating from labels back to folders, and probably wouldn't start using multiple labels again, should they be available, until a point where it's a very common, well-supported standard behavior. No more proprietary nonsense for me.

I’m already married to the multi label format, so moving back to IMAP is a deal breaker. Eyes forward, no going back.

EDIT: Understandable! Safe travels on the path to owning your data!

It really is coming in JMAP! Come along to IETF in London to have a play, or I'll be pushing out links to updated JMAP Proxy in the next couple of weeks and you can play with it there :)

Fantastic news! Thank you for all of your org's efforts in this regard. The open web needs every advocate it can get.

The English word "terrible" is a terrible word. Even worse than garden path sentences.

AKA; let's reinvent Lotus Notes. I thought the last Domino had already fallen.

Pop-ups and autoplay videos inside your email. What could possibly go wrong ?

We should have never allowed email to have more than plain text.

In the words of the first UCLA email:


This bullshit better not come to enterprise customers.

Okay, I'll jump. Any tips on a good mail/calendaring/contact solution that isn't google, and works and syncs across browser and mobile devices?

I'm in love with https://mailbox.org since I moved with them, almost a year ago. They support standards. It works on the browser, on Apple Mail/Calendar/Contacts/Reminders and even on Android with open source software (or others, of course).

The basic plan costs 1€/month to have 3 email addresses that always go to the same place. They have something that I can't live without anymore: Disposable email addresses. On the basic plan you can have up to 11 disposable email addresses to sign up on services without the worry of spam or that they share your email address with third parties.

Click to read full article.

Oh look an AMP url ... Sigh.

"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail" --Maslow

s/for email//

Wave 2.0?

Wait, I think that would be exciting. AMP on the other hand...


Free market? Is that what we call it when one member of the duopoly controlling most email clients decides to embrace and extend the standard?

Also even if you believe in Santa Claus and free markets, people getting on their soapbox to say “this is a terrible idea” is part of the free market.

just a hypothetical, but if you were to assume that Google had no ill will here and was actually trying to make stuff better for users - what do you think the best way would be for people working at Google to do this?

I.e. say you worked on the gmail team, you really cared about users, you thought amp for email would be good for users, how would you go about making this happen in the world?

genuinely curious if its even possible for Google try and improve things without having some of the downsides you mentioned.

This is a pretty packed question, there's a lot of factors. The size of Google, and the fact that they own several complimentary monopolies makes it very hard for them to do anything without providing a new conflict of interest.

Take Chrome's ad blocking... there's no way this can be ethically done by Google, even if blocking annoying ads definitively improves user experience. If Chrome was not owned by Google, it wouldn't be at issue, but it is owned by Google, and there's no way for Google to approach this topic. Googlers who care about this should push Google to split off Chrome into an independent foundation.

AMP is a way to push content to centralized platforms. Even if others run AMP caches (which are pointless because Google Search uses Google's cache, etc.), it pulls the Internet towards centralized cloud providers of which Google is one of the top three. And again we cross a huge self-interest issue.

If Google wanted to retain enough goodwill to even start to walk this back, they need to move back to open protocols. RSS (or a newer JSON equivalent), XMPP (or a newer equivalent), etc. And deal with all the mess that comes with true decentralized open standards. It's not like Google can't afford the additional difficulties. If their AI is as great as they claim (it's not, G+ porn spam is rampant), it shouldn't be hard for them to provide good experiences on open federated systems.

Want to run apps in emails? Great. Does the user want it? Can I decide which apps I want running inside my emails, based on what's useful for me?

Will the user get to pick whether their AMP emails are dynamic or not? Google+ notifications have a long history in Gmail of overwriting the display of the actual email with a live page, which can try to obscure the email's original content, like in the case of a deleted message. You'd have to use an IMAP client to see the content of the message that was actually sent to you.

I was typing a long, long reply too but I just realized I wouldn't even use my own suggestions because I don't trust Google anymore, specially to do the right thing in the long run.

If I cared about users primarily, I would hope I wouldn't jump ahead to "amp for email is good." Your requisites for this thought exercise are too broad.

If Google wants to improve email, I would start by emphatically recognizing why their previous attempt to supplant it with Wave failed, and stop trying to break email's openness,

That was part of my hypothetical, that you actually believe amp for email is good.

just a hypothetical, but if you were to assume that Google had no ill will here and was actually trying to make stuff better for users

Hypothetically, you’d be making an assumption at odds with years of anti-consumer behavior.

The fact that no one has a specific answer for the simple "what would you do to launch this if you worked at Google?" really says something.

I wouldn't "launch this" because it's not needed in the first place. You should accept email for what it is. The same point the article is defending.

> and was actually trying to make stuff better for users

Now, if we're talking about making communication between users better than yeah you need to go beyond email. E2E, open protocol, something like jmap (imap sucks), focus on privacy and interoperability, yada yada, so many better stuff to "fix" before trying to amplify my inbox and adding more rendering issues between platforms. Do you see a trend? You're now treading a thin line between chat apps, social networks, Android instant apps and glorified iframes. And introducing a whole new set of problems at the same time, not to mention the monumental effort required for something like this to keep backward compatibility (just so you can still call it email and use the superset). And getting the implementation right the very first time.

I too want the worst problems of using email to be solved but since nobody wants to adopt open protocols and work with each other (or eee the whole thing a year later), like history showed us time and time again, it won't happen. So again, let's at least no lose what we have now.

(Sorry I'm a little tired so my writing is bad)

That was part of my hypothetical, that you actually believe amp for email is good for users.

Your hypothetical element of being pro-user makes it hard, because it requires a great deal of fantasy to support.

The point I was trying to get at with the hypothetical is that its quite possible that a lot of Googlers are good people with good intentions and that they are trying to do good.

The hypothetical tries to demonstrate that if Googlers are good, they would behave in a way that is indistinguishable from the behaviour you are seeing and attributing to evil.

Basically I find it very hard to believe that Googlers wake up in the morning and think how best they can screw over the internet to make a few more bucks for not themselves, but the company they work for. Maybe I'm an optimist.

The point I was trying to get at with the hypothetical is that its quite possible that a lot of Googlers are good people with good intentions and that they are trying to do good.

And in turn everyone is trying to explain that individual intentions in the context of a large organization don’t really matter. The only meaningful choice the well intentioned have is to work for a different company. I couldn’t care less if a Google employee has good intentions, but is willing to hang them up for a paycheck.

No - expressing an opinion is called "freedom of speech", which goes hand in hand with the free market.

You'd be amazed at the number of initiatives launched by the supposed monopoly (Google) failing in the free market. Nacl lost out to wasm. Chrome OS never really took off.

Despite people's gripes about AMP, consumers are clearly loving faster, more responsive websites and hence it's relevance. Let this play out and we'll see where it leads

> No - expressing an opinion is called "freedom of speech"

imagine thinking this was a killer counterpoint

I don't know what a "killer" counter point is, but I do know that it's accurate

Isn't ChromeOS very popular in schools? I would assume so based on the sales of Chromebooks anyway.

Re: Amp, this topic always leads to people foaming at the mouth on HN. I don't expect to see much actual discussion occur.

Strictly, freedom of speech is a political term, not a market one.

Free market as influenced by a commercial entity intentionally making most other options unusable.

Yeah, the free market is a good metric there...

It can be argued that e-mail spam made most self-hosted e-mail unusable.

That argument is not compelling, given the number of people and organizations that self-host email.

The problem is not that it's difficult to run an SMTP server - botnets run millions of them. The problem is that telling a legitimate one from one that sends spam is an arms race.

Stay out of my emails google.

Can't wait until they release AMP Reader /s

It seems like HN has lost religion on open standards and freedom of user agents. If my MUA (which happens to be Gmail) can receive, interpret, and display a certain type of payload (which happens to be AMP), then good for me. It is nobody else's business what my MUA does with my messages.

I, for one, welcome our new AMP overlords.

As a marketer emails are really limited. This opens up possibility of higher engagement and less friction for what you want Gmail customers to do. I work for a loan company - get a rate quote IN YOUR EMAIL! Customer saves time and I just cut 2 steps out of our funnel.

The required coding and browser compatibility scare me a bit though. Nothing to piss off consumers than an email that doesnt work as promised.

As a user, screw you. Sorry to be harsh, but the fact of the matter is the harder your life is, the easier my life becomes, no joke.

I dont want AMP. In fact, I want emails to go the other way. It already annoys me that email marketers can track whether i have read their email or not.

I'm not sure if this is a sarcastic comment or not. I don't want even more obnoxious emails from marketers. As someone else pointed out the only interactivity I want from email is unsubscribe. What you described is everything that's wrong with the internet and Google on particular. I don't want any needs marketers have to be part of decision making process for new web standards.

Cool, and as a user, I want every marketeer to be hanged and quartered </sarcasm> But really, marketing as a whole is broken.

Do you actually like watching advertising, and getting hundreds of spam and impossible-to-unsubscribe marketing emails every day?

If not, why do you think your users will?

There's nothing good in marketing. It doesn't help the ability of users to buy products (if the goal is that the user buys the best product for the lowest price, the best tool for that would be providing more independent comparable reviews, and better price comparison search), and it certainly doesn't help the user get to the content they want (which is not the ad).

The only reason users ever subscribe to marketing content are (a) to figure out when sales are, snd (b) coupons. Actually sell everything at a better price all year round, improve price comparison engines, and you won't need any of that anymore. The net benefit for society is negative.

A marketer doesn't have to actually like advertising itself, its just a tools.

I think they clearly know that users hate advertising but this is not their concern, more important is if the advertising increase the sales/profit.

You have to see it from their point of view.

I hate advertisement too but if I'm a marketer I would gladly spam users all day long if it works.

Why should I?

Everything exists solely to serve society.

Something that does not provide a benefit for the users, should not be allowed. That simple.

As a fellow marketer, how will you feel if email, an incredibly high performing and cost effective (essentially free) channel, turns into a auction where you have to pay a dynamic price to get any reach similar to FB?

My fear is this is where this is heading.

What does AMP have to do with your fear?

I see AMP as a stepping stone towards building a walled garden for the web. There's a lot of benefits, but definitely a loss of control and leverage for marketers in some ways.

My concern is that as Gmail diverges away from the rest of the email world, if a significant percentage of a business's users still use Gmail, they lose direct ownership of that relationship. The tabs were just the first step. I see AMP as potentially the second.

> I see AMP as a stepping stone towards building a walled garden for the web.

In what way? AMP is merely a subset of HTML that any mail client can implement.

> definitely a loss of control and leverage for marketers in some ways.

You still have to explain yourself on this point. It adds one more option for marketers in addition to the MIME types already supported. How does this cause marketers to lose control?

I think there will be very legitimate advantages to AMP for email. However as more and more marketers embrace it, that gives away leverage. It is a very gradual thing.

However much like the ad ecosystem, if Google can control the entire email experience from inbox to landing page, and marketers become dependent on it, then that allows Google to exert pressure in other areas that benefit it. My bet is that this eventually takes the form of an auction model for ensuring your messages reach the inbox of the users. But this is a very long-term thing, which is why I see AMP as merely a stepping stone (and not necessarily a direct one). Hope that clarifies a bit.

> As a marketer emails are really limited.

This is a feature, not a bug.

What is currently stopping you from sending rate quotes in email nowadays? AFAICT, rate quotes are able to be represented via plaintext.

As heresey as it might be to HN I can't wait until everyone in the world onboards onto one unified communication platform. Once (and if) lte and unlimited data becomes ubiquitous I look forward to be able to make phone calls, email, messages, video messaging, blogging etc all from one username and account. I want to hand someone my username and be done with it. Facebook is trying, but it's execution leaves much to be desired

I don't think this will ever happen. There are just far too many people, with far too many requirements.

For example, I would never use a centralized, proprietary platform for these services. Some folks don't care, but they may want it to work on <insert latest device fad here>. Even if it works on that device, it will likely need to comply with local regulations around the world, each with their own requirements.

If we (humans) can't even get a single, agree on unified service for something 'simple' like web search, what makes you think we'll ever converge on dozens of mediums/services/protocols?

So long as said account has not been banned for tripping some unknown algorithm, and have received the "this is the last communication on this matter" message. At which point in such a world where there is one, and only one, communication platform, do you even exist?

Email has this feature. Hand me your email address. I send you an email.

For phone calls you have telephones, again hand me your phone number and I will call you.

Video is annoying, it would be nice to bypass Skype/Google Hangouts etc.

Devin Coldewey against a bunch of Google employees, who will win? (sarcasm)

On a more serious note, if the idea of AMP is so bad as many people attest. How is that the "bad idea" passed over so many people at a company that praises itself of hiring some of the most smartest people in the field? Hyperbole, the author of this article is just generalizing. Maybe AMP for email works for some people, making it a good idea for them.

Please consider what you're suggesting. Do you mean to say that Google cannot possibly do anything that isn't good? Really?

AMP is good for Google, and secondarily maybe also good for some subset of people who care more about short-term benefits on slow connections than the long-term damage to the open web.

AMP for email is good for Google alone.

> Do you mean to say that Google cannot possibly do anything that isn't good? Really?

No, that's not what I am saying, please don't put words in my mouth.

My comment is divided in three parts: 1) sarcasm 2) question and 3) counter argument.

The sarcasm is already labelled.

The question is what you assumed was an affirmation.

The counter argument is, "AMP works for some people", you said "AMP for email is good for Google alone" which proves that my counter argument is true. AMP, bad or not, works for some people (in your comment, Google employees), which is what I originally wrote in my parent comment. I don't see what do I need to reconsider from this. There is also comments in this thread from people who say they like AMP, probing my statement even more: "it works for some people".

> How is that the "bad idea" passed over so many people at a company that praises itself of hiring some of the most smartest people in the field?

That formulation is disingenuous at best, and your follow-up describing it as a "question" is just as bad.

How is it that you think your comment was acceptable when so many people disagree at a website that praises itself for having some of the smartest commenters on the web?

I hope that helps demonstrate the dishonesty of a question of that format. No need to answer.

> How is that the "bad idea" passed over so many people at a company that praises itself of hiring some of the most smartest people in the field?

The fact that Google produced AMP played a nontrivial part in me rejecting their job offer - I didn't want my work to be judged by the engineering standards of an organization that continues to staff and promote AMP.

Consider me seriously impressed by that stance.

I mean, other reasons included things like "they wouldn't match the competing offer" so it definitely wasn't just a principled stand :-) But even that aside, this was just a decision from self-interest, not a statement of protest: the sorts of engineering work I find interesting/engaging tend to involve doing the right thing for the users even if it involves more / longer work. I don't think that prioritizing getting the work done and shipped is objectively wrong, I just worry about what would happen if perf season rolls around and my current project is incomplete because I didn't want to take the expedient route.

AMP is an excellent idea... for Google. (And only Google.) The point being that the benefit to Google is clearly larger than the PR hit they take for continuing to push a thing that's costing them a lot of goodwill with the Internet community.

> How is that the "bad idea" passed over so many people at a company that praises itself of hiring some of the most smartest people in the field?

Maybe they don't actually hire the smartest people in the field, or maybe the smart people they hire do not have their users' best interests in mind.

> […] maybe the smart people they hire do not have their users' best interests in mind

This is probably the answer to my question.

I don't know why people got — kind of — "angry" for going against an article that goes against a project.

"a company that praises itself of hiring some of the most smartest people in the field?"

Maybe because they are oblivious to the big difference between being a good developer, being generally smart, and being a decent person? These really are entirely different things, and selecting for the former would not necessarily give you the latter. And I very much doubt that they were selecting for the last one at all lately. If ever.


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