A new way of reading email


Fastcompany reports that AOL has a new webmail client “Alto” that changes how email is read and received.

Alto is divided into two main windows: a streamlined column of mail that matters, and a grid of tiles for navigating leftover inbox clutter. In Alto, many messages and files are automatically and neatly aggregated into tiles of common categories: for photos, attachments, social, daily deals, and retail.

In many ways this seems similar to Gmail tabs, where mail is automatically classified by ‘type’ and moved out of the central inbox with other mail of similar types.
The interesting thing about Alto, is that is works with non-AOL addresses. I’m guessing it connects through IMAP, but there aren’t enough details. This is a smart way of doing things, AOL gets to control the interface, but users can still use other email addresses.
I think we’re going to see more and more innovations in email clients in the coming years. What we have now is basically the same as we had 15 years ago, with very little change or improvement, despite massive changes to how people use email.
Should be interesting to see what happens.

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  • I’m confused. Most of the comments on that article are from 1-2 years ago. Did they just release it?

  • Alto’s been around for several years, but AOL has done an impressively poor job of telling people about it. They have special cases for the big mail providers, and do IMAP for everyone else. It’s nice if you like that kind of thing.

  • I tried Alto for 3-4 months and was impressed with the visual approach. It was refreshing. Stacks and folders were great inside of Alto, but there were some syncing issues with IMAP. I found it incredibly difficult to find emails [sorted by Alto] in my native email client.

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