I use text messaging, Yahoo messenger, Facebook chat and Facebook email, and over a dozen email accounts on gmail and yahoo mail in addition to my own domain’s email via Google apps. In addition, I use Google Voice which transcribes my voice mail into text and sends me a link to my email. Most of my emails are forwarded to a main account but the problem is if I reply using that account, the sender now sees a reply from a different email address and that can be confusing. For important emails, I can use Yahoo mail because I usually have Yahoo messenger open and it will pop up an alert but if I don’t have it running, I don’t get the alert. For critical alerts, I prefer to send an sms message but not all applications support that so I setup a poor man’s alert system by creating a Twitter account that is configured to send me an sms when I get a new tweet. I then setup whatever trigger to update that private Twitter account. As you might imagine, keeping up with all these different platforms is quite a chore. What’s needed is a unified system that integrates email, chat, sms, and voice mail. Facebook is trying to do that but their system is Facebook centric and I don’t want such a system. Google is probably the best poised to create such a unified system since they have gmail, Google app, Chrome, and Google voice.
My ideal system will have the following features.
- Prioritized inbox centered around conversations. Yes, conversations. Not sender or subject line but conversations. Sort by subject line is useless as most people don’t use proper subject lines in email. Sort by sender quickly becomes useless when I get hundreds of emails from the same sender talking about different things. This system has to be smart enough to know that if 5 people are having a group conversation using different senders and subject lines over several days or weeks, all those conversations should be grouped together. Do I know how to do that without violating privacy? No. But I don’t know how to make a car that drives itself either.
- Smart “forum type” quoting. I hate the current default of quoting nothing or quoting everything in a reply. In a multi-party conversation, I want to be able to easily quote certain parts of a reply and reply to just that part. Yes, I can do it with cut and paste but there’s got to be an easier way with better presentation of the output.
- Smart reply to forwarded emails. I don’t want to open and check a dozen email accounts but I want to be able to reply using once master account and still maintain the identity of all those accounts that received the emails. So if I get an email forwarded from fashionsf.com, I want to reply from a single account and have it appear as if I had logged into my account at fashionsf.com.
- Alerts via sms and/or integrated browser alerts. This can already be done via Firefox plugins or Chrome extensions but I want it built into Chrome since Google owns it. I want to be able to pick and choose what triggers an alert and I want that alert to go to the browser and send an sms message if I choose.
- Unified chat, sms, email, and voice mail. I want it all centered around a single secure portal and have it be accessible via mobile app. Security is not an issue since Google Gmail is currently the only large scale site using https end to end.
- If someone sends me sms and I’m logged into this communications portal, I want to just type a response and have it reply by sms.
- If they sent an email, I want to first reply by email but also have an option to send a link to the message or an except of the message via sms.
- If I get a Google Voice message, I want a simple click to return an automated message asking them to contact me via some other methods such as sms or email. That way, if I’m somewhere where I can’t talk, I can read the voice mail and send a reply with a single click.
So what’s on your wish list for a revolutionary email replacement?