The concept video is very annoying because of the 'arty' way it's been filmed. They have shown three ideas: sort mail by sender, sort by conversation and show me all attachments. So far, so good. What they haven't mentioned is any form of search functionality or foldering. Looking at my inbox right now I see a set of separate conversations from different people about the same topic (in this case, OSCON). What you want to get on top of email is automatic foldering (pet topic) so that you get an intelligent view of your email.
What's shown in the video seems to be pretty basic wrapped up in a flowery dress to make it look like something amazing. I can believe that people would appreciate clean email interfaces, but this seems like it doesn't take into account real world stuff like figuring out who's cc:ed on a message or what the subject line is, or what happens when an exchange of messages stops being between two people and starts being between three or more.
Personally, I don't ever use folders. I've been there, and I'm glad I got it over with. I have no use whatsoever for Outlook-like complexity and complex rule sets. And please don't think that this is just because I don't deal with email a lot. But there are different kinds of people who use email in different ways. To each his own.
There are only three kinds of messages: messages I have to act on, messages I want to keep and the rest.
The first, I flag and archive, the second, I archive, the third, I delete. The list of flagged messages then becomes my todo-list. If I ever need to go back to some discussion I did not flag, I rely on search. This really only works if threads are collated into conversations. Contrary to the original article though, this feature is not exclusive to Gmail any more, so that particular advice can be ignored.
I believe that this is one implementation of 'inbox zero', for which you should find plenty of stuff on the 'net (43Folders and Merlin Mann should be great starting points).
That said, I never claimed that folders are inefficient for email. I just said that my system did not involve any. That said, there are a lot of people who will say that a good searching mechanism is more convenient than a complex folder structure. (And conversely, that you only need folders if your search sucks. Search has gotten a lot better in the last few years.)
One might argue that the whole point of our brain is to recognize patterns. Therefore, we are very very good at grasping the context an email message belongs to. Maybe we don't actually need folders to signify context externally. Also, tagging seems to be a more natural way of providing context than folders, for the simple fact that messages might belong to different contexts simultaneously. Still, the only context I need in an email app is whether something is actionable or not. Everything else is just noise.
Also interesting on this topic are these papers:
* Better to organize personal information by folders or by tags?: The devil is in the details
* Don't take my folders away!: organizing personal information to get things done
* Keystroke Level Analysis of Email Message Organization
And speaking personally, the one feature that I would love to see would be a way of attaching personal notes to an e-mail without actually altering the e-mail itself. I'm sure someone, somewhere, has implemented this but I have yet to personally see it.
OT: I wonder if there's enough HN people at OSCON to have a get-together/BoF of some sort? I'm up there for the week workshopping/presenting about Arduino & Android fun...
I think you're supposed to get an emotional impression, instead of an explicit idea of how the software works.
The general workflow is pretty cool; different view modes, conversations etc. but then I see how the mother writes an email in the video (between 0:35 and 0:55) and I am surprised she can figure anything out.
The email pane is an intimidating white modal window, that does not give any visual cues as to what you can do with it. How can I drag it? Can I type anywhere? How do I send or dismiss it? To whom will it be sent?
Apparently messages have a subject (at least they are still email), but this is implicit. Having taught some older people how to use email, I know they struggle a lot with the concept of having a subject and they often confuse message and subject. With this subject, I am pretty sure the average "mom" will end up sending every message with the subject "Dear David" or something like that.
The sequence is concluded by the woman sending the email (around 0:53). She moves the mouse to the bottom of the message and all of a sudden a fucking tool bar pops up out of nowhere. There is no indication that that thing was even there, so how is anyone going to know that was there to begin with?
Don't get me wrong, there is a lot that can be improved about the way we interact with email, and there are a lot of things in this concept that I really like (for example the contact-list on the left, allowing you to drop a photo on a person's face to send it to them), but they introduce new flaws that are unacceptable. The footer of the page says the authors are from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, so I would have expected that rather than spending a lot of time on creating a sexy video (mission accomplished) they had put their concept to the test with some actual users. No doubt these flaws would have come to light immediately.
The interesting part is the first tab though, the 'people' view. They seem to go for an IM-style persistent conversation log between a fixed set of people. That is quite an interesting way of looking at conversations, pushing email further from the original 'digital letter' towards shorter, more transient messages. Basically, it tries to make email behave more like a persistent IM chat.
I find it interesting how the email protocol gets pushed more and more in the background and applications implement their own interfaces on top of it. Email seems to evolve from the definite way of sending stuff over the internet towards just one other communication protocol that is more or less on equal footing with, say, Jabber, or Facebook, or maybe even Twitter.
What with Facebook integrating email into its site and Google dumping IM chat logs in your Gmail inbox, there is even some sort of cross-protocol talk. This gets even more obvious with Facebook or Google+ or Twitter sending you emails whenever you receive messages on their platform. Now if you could reply to these emails and the platform would 'do the right thing', this would actually implement email as a ubiquitous interface to all of these services.
And personally, I think the world would be a better place without disclaimers anyway, so they might as well delete them outright. But maybe that is just me.
If you have a two messages that belong to one thread but that you put in two different folders, a thread-aware email client will still only show one message when you view it.
In a conversion-based email program however, there exists no such thing as an individual message. There are only whole conversations. When you view a 'single message', you always see the whole conversation regardless of the 'folder' it resides in. Basically, it always collects all the messages that belong to a thread even if you look at one single lonely message sitting in your inbox.
Persona seems to go a step further and not only collect threads into conversations, but also collect all conversations between a set of people into people-streams.
[By the way, people are still busy porting these features back to native clients for power users. See http://sup.rubyforge.org/ and http://notmuchmail.org/.]
I wonder if we'll ever see an iPad version of anything like this, because i'd certainly be interested.
On a side note, this further cements the idea that its still worthwhile to disrupt boring or old markets if they havent had disruption for a long time.
Not to mention many companies for legal reasons have to host their content internally.
These concerns alone - not withstanding the long sales cycles of corporate sales turns off many startups.
2) I think most people these days have switched to webmail in one form or another. Build this as a web app, not a strict desktop client. Also, as a web app its relatively easy these days to wrap it in a framework that will present it as a desktop app if someone wants to use it that way.
If you're interested in stats, Campaign Monitor posts a monthly report on email client popularity:
Also note the Movers and Shakers stats at the bottom.
The email client a person is using can only be detected if images are displayed. This can give an inflated weighting to email clients that display images by default, such as Outlook 2000 and the iPhone. It will also provide a lesser weighting to those that block images by default such as Gmail and Outlook 2007. Those email clients that aren't capable of displaying images, such as older Blackberry models and other mobile devices cannot be included in this study.
An interesting tit bit of information: The basic (non IE) version of Outlook Web Access for Exchange 2007 blocks <img src="blah"> by default, but it actually fetches <input type="image" src="blah">
I've found a couple of similar issues in iOS and Apple Mail in the past which have now been fixed. Even if you disabled loading remote images by default, it would still fetch the contents of <audio> and <video> tags. This was fixed after I reported it. Then later, it started performing DNS prefetches before clicking "Load Images" if you included a tag like this: <link rel="dns-prefetch" href="http://blah/>;
Thunderbird had the dns prefetching flaw too. I reported that one and it was fixed.
Android had multiple problems last time I checked. It would even honour meta refresh tags and bounce you off to the web browser automatically, just from opening an email. Scary. I might give that another test soon.
I found similar flaws in Roundcube and OpenWebmail which were subsequently fixed after I reported them.
I built an automated testing tool a while ago which sends a specially crafted email to an address of your choice which includes lots of tricks to try and get your email client to call back to my server. You can check it out here:
I haven't found any issues with the gmail, hotmail or yahoo web interfaces, so there's no point testing those clients using my interface.
If you're using someone elses domain for your email, then you're locked in to using whatever service they choose to assign their domain to yes.
If you have your own domain, then you can take your email wherever you want.
Maybe hotmail and yahoo users are more likely to open borderline spam whereas gmail users like to use email as more of a tool to get things done? Be sure to always read between the line before making strong inferences from pretty pie charts.
The demo has it running on OSX. OSX users are more open to the idea of having (and paying for) a desktop application. From a business perspective, an OSX desktop application might make sense.
I don't know what to think about it. As a casual user, I like it. It make interaction with the computer effortless. On the other side, as a power user, I still like to Unix philosophy of small powerfull tools and an easy ways to combine and automate them.
I really hope someone will eventually find a way to mix both of those concepts and bring software to the next level.
Also, I don't like the fact that webmail providers such as GMail cannot only track my e-mail, but also my reading/browsing behavior.
predictable shortcuts are like bookmarks, easily manageable (tabs expose for chrome) - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ackpfhlmgjdjlohhjm...
your ISP is tracking, cookies are tracking, or basically its more of a hassle to minimize all tracking than to stop thinking about it.
Either way in the end it is about preference
There are also other effects of externalizing your tools that don't relate to continuity of uptime: levels of complexity, adaptability, security, and manageability of change all have different values for web-based and desktop software.
Maybe it's because I'm looking for solutions that will last for long years, not the apps that I have to change every three or so months. I guess this is not possible nowdays.
Browsers fail horribly at providing a desktop alternative.
The obsession with a web page as a document is the part that needs to be addressed.
Firefox's long lacking support for something as simple as overflow:ellipsis is one of the examples of the anti app ethos of browsers. You don't need it much on web pages, but it's pretty essential in business apps as you've got to present a lot of data but need to show it compactly. And it's essential to indicate there's more text to a comment or email.
That and the terrible support for non-fixed layout.
You (well, some of you) are already using Gmail seamlessly as a web app, on your laptop, your mobile phone and your tablet. Each with their own unique interface, but each with the same metaphors. Same with Twitter, Facebook and a slew of other services.
I think the definition of what constitutes an 'app' is blurring. Web-apps, in-browser Chrome apps, browser add-ons, native apps, site-specific browsers, web-content inside native apps, native content inside web apps, the Chrome book, all of that has some app-ness… Some web apps don't need an internet connection any more. Some native apps are completely dependent on an internet connection. Which of these is the web app, then? It is really only that some apps are executed within the context of a browser and some are not. That says little about their web-awareness, though.
Requiring Internet access or not has nothing to do with it.
For example, an OS X native app wouldn't run in Linux (at least as easily as a Linux native app would). A web app would.
For the workgroup that I support, I give them Mailplane for Google Apps. I find that some users just can't get past the idea of having a "shortcut" on their desktop, even when on a Mac.
There are a ton of research areas for email/messaging, such as those below. This seems to address none of them.
- better searching
- multiple sources (email, SMS, RSS, twitter .. in one place)
- automatic classification of incoming email, flagging important items, separating personal and business etc
- integrating to-do lists
Why do email clients have to take their cues from other email clients? They feel stuck in the 90s. Many people have replaced email with facebook for personal use—it only makes sense that email clients should go there.
They might be wise to change the music.
I'm guessing their product is the same.
Please do it and keep improving it as there's a lot of potencial here. Good work!
Every email client I've used looks like a clone from Netscape Communicator.
For one i loathe Facebook's interface. But by and large nearly all of my communication is by instant messenger, skype, email, phone, or some combination of the above.
And I basically live online since i work in a distributed team.
But my friends and family members? For personal messages, like stuff that really matters, they send messages on facebook. My brothers, my sister, my mom, my dad—I can't remember the last time any of them emailed me anything. Maybe a travel itinerary. It could be that my experience, or the experience of my friends/family, is atypical, but I think there are a lot of people—tens or hundreds of millions—who use facebook that way, as their primary communication tool.
You could probably add even more flair by using a 3d camera in AE with DOF enabled, I've done this before and it can look really slick if used well.
This client might be a little late to the party in terms of clean UI as something new, what with Mail 5 coming out soon, Sparrow (assuming your a desktop mail kind of person).
On a side note, that whole webpage as an image is making my skin crawl.
By the way, does anyone know how the DOF effect in the video is achieved? Guess it was added during post processing in software.
I think that there are some original and interesting ideas in there.
or perhaps i misunderstand what is meant by "concept".