Over the years there have been a number of attempts to make Email more manageable. Far beyond just reducing spam, many services will group your email into categories of things you may still want but aren’t that important.
Some services try to apply machine learning and more to email triage by auto categorizing based on content and learning as you continue to tell it what is really a newsletter and what is a personal message (Spark, Newton, Gmail, Outlook). I have also had email clients that I have tried and frankly just lacked too much in the design department despite having an appealing feature set (Canary).
Other services are anchoring their business model around the assumption that your entire business can all use the same client and make group collaboration on email the core selling point (Missive).
A newcomer to the email space, Hey, has been trying to make the email triage task something that’s a seamless part of the email managing experience but albeit somewhat manual as new recipients email you. I really like Hey for a variety of reasons. It’s available on all platforms and especially the web (this means Grammarly works with it! yay!). It has a good design and is really taking a strong approach to handling emails that abuse your inbox.
My Email Client of Choice
Lately, I have been using Newton, the service that has already been killed twice but resurrected by fans of the service/client. The appeal of Newton to me is not only its clean UI and cross-platform compatibility but also its one unique feature “Recap”.
Recap is one of those features that likely makes some uneasy from a privacy standpoint but basically it scans your email and looks for phrases that indicate an intent to follow up or messaging that would expect a reply and when one hasn’t been received you are encouraged you to follow up. It’s a feature that is incredibly useful when you want to prevent email from slipping through the cracks.
In between Newton’s ups and downs I have been using Spark and really loving it. Spark has achieved a level of design and reliability that I really admire. The only things that Spark is lacking on for me is having some way to access it on Windows (either through a web client or native windows client). And some additional options for handling non-personal email (newsletters, etc.) in a way that gets them out of the main “smart” email list. Having a feature like Recap too would definitely have me looking again at using it.
So why not hey?
Hey has a lot of potential and I don’t think the price tag is an issue ($99/year) if the service is truly providing value. The issues I have with Hey have a lot to do with my needs for email.
I have a number of email addresses and several for custom domains. Hey supports you forwarding your email to them but doesn’t support (unlike Gmail) letting you reply with those addresses. Without this ability it already makes Hey a non starter for most of my email use.
Other things that I want Hey to do before I really think I would love it includes letting me triage mail by more than just the from the address of the sender. Some places email you both critical and newsletter emails from the same address and this makes Hey’s current triage management a problem.
And as long as I am going through the list I would love if Hey would adopt more single page app friendly patterns of letting you compose an email and still be able to see your imbox (yes that’s what they call it) for making references. Currently, Hey does pretty much everything server side which means full page reloads every time you change views. Sort of feels old fashioned compared to the most progressive react/vue apps out there.
There are a few things that Hey has stated they never plan on supporting due to design reasons. One of those items is email signatures. I respect this as cutting down on the bulk of email is what Hey is trying to do. That being said, I correspond with a lot of people for business and having that electronic business card can be incredibly helpful so they understand where I am in the organization.
What Hey is really doing uniquely at the moment is providing a nice friendly upfront UI to something email has had for a while, filters. Do you want a way to basically banish a particular email sender or emails that contain a certain subject? Filters have your back. And in most email situations filters are more powerful than what Hey is doing, they are just more clumsy to implement.
So what now?
For now, I will continue to use and support Newton. I have hopes that the platform will continue to see support and will be open-sourced should another potential closure come.
If any of you though know of an email client/service that I should check out please send it to me.