If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of text messaging. I find it intrusive and disruptive, and don’t understand why an email doesn’t achieve the same purpose if it’s not intended to be urgent. After all, everyone has email on their phones now, right?
But I understand I’m in the minority on that, and further, I understand that there are a whole group of people who feel the opposite way as me. They hate email, and wish it could be more like their beloved text messaging. So when I heard about MailTime, a new app that allows you to view emails in a text message-style interface, I was really intrigued.
After installing MailTime on your phone and granting it access to your email account, it presents all your emails in a bubble-style format. All of the header data is removed, so you just see the text that the person wrote to you. (You can still see the email in a traditional format if you need to see the header data for some reason – just click on the bubble.) MailTime also features a conversation list of all your emails, which works kind of like the beloved Mailbox app – you can swipe left to mark as unread, or right to archive or trash. Since Mailbox is shutting down on February 26, MailTime is a fantastic alternative.
MailTime’s overall vision, though, isn’t just to stand in for Mailbox, or to re-format your existing emails. They are attempting to solve one of the key problems of messenger apps (and the main reason I don’t use them): the fact that you and your friend have to be on the same service in order to get in touch. I hate having to check WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and text messaging… so I end up checking none of them. Email, on the other hand, is an “open messaging” platform – Yahoo users can email AOL users can email Hotmail users can email Gmail users (who can then ignore all those other people who clearly haven’t been online since 1992).
Since email is the core of MailTime, this also means that if you want to start using MailTime, you don’t have to wait for your friends to do so. By putting email (an open messenger format) into a quick and easy format that’s traditionally only used by closed messenger clients, they’ve solved both problems.
Just this week, I had a conversation with some brand new coworkers who just finished school, and they were shocked that I still use email. Apparently my use of Gmail instead of Snapchat makes me seem like as much of an old dinosaur as the way I think of Yahoo users! (Sorry, Marissa Mayer.) I’m hoping that an app like MailTime will help us all still communicate together on our preferred clients… without revealing my obviously ancient age.
MailTime offers some neat default sorting options that allow you to separate “important” emails (those sent by actual humans) from “all” emails (which includes all those listservs and computer-generated emails you’re probably on). I already have a lot of filters set up to separate these, but I will admit that they took a long time to set up and it takes me several clicks to navigate my Gmail labels if I ever want to view “all” emails when I’m on my phone. It’s nice to have that kind of human vs robot sorting by default!
MailTime also has some neat ideas for further transform the way we email in the future – like a TL;DR feature, which suggests that you shorten their message if it’s more than 50 words long. (Um, hi, I am always guilty of this and always write way more than I need, in case you couldn’t tell from my blog posts!) Unlike Twitter’s 140 character limit, the 50 words max won’t be a hard limit – MailTime will just pop up a bubble encouraging you to shorten your message, but you can ignore that if you want. I love that MailTime is subtly encouraging people to change the way they message without forcing it, and who knows – maybe I’ll start changing my writing style if I get this kind of subtle reminder.
Finally, MailTime has to-do list functionality, where you can @ users to assign a task to them. Although this is pretty neat, to me it was the least exciting part of the app, since you would need those people to be on MailTime in order to use it best. Maybe soon!
The best part? MailTime is totally free to try – they only charge if you want to connect more than two email accounts to it. It’s 99 cents (one time, not per month) for each additional account, or you can invite three friends to MailTime to get it free. That seems pretty fair to me, and MailTime has also noted that their intended revenue stream is actually via third parties, so who knows – this small fee may go away at some point.
Unfortunately, the downside right now is that MailTime is only available for iPhone users (so I ended up testing it out on Adam’s phone). Android is coming soon, though, so hang in there if you aren’t an Apple user!
I’m really glad MailTime is working on bridging the divide between email and various messengers. Sometimes, the world just seems so fragmented between the Snapchat lovers, the Facebook lover, the text lovers… and the old-school email lovers like me 🙂
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by MailTime, but when they reached out, I jumped at the opportunity because it sounds like a perfect app for me to share!