E-mail. It’s way better than snail mail – faster and more efficient, and you don’t have to worry about rooting around for a stamp when you want to send the traditional kind of non-digital message or card or letter.
But in other respects, sometimes you kind of yearn for tradition.
Like, when was the last time you got a hard copy letter in your real mailbox from a Nigerian scamlord? And I’m betting you easily get ten times the “special offers” and other types of junk mail in your in-box (despite the best filters) than your friendly neighborhood letter carrier carts around to hand-deliver to you.
For all the drawbacks of e-mail, it’s become a ubiquitous and vital tool, one that keeps us connected and communicating more effectively than anything else that humankind has come up with. After all, what other tool can lay claim to 3.7 billion global users who send 269 billion messages every day?
We just have to make it better
That’s what a lot of people are doing, addressing the different points of pain that make the user experience something that’s not as optimal as it should be, when you think about it. It has been nearly 25 years since it became one of the first major transformations of the Internet Age. Isn’t it time?
Optimization is what one e-mail innovator, Rahul Vohra, has sought to accomplish with Superhuman. This app is not just super looking, but it’s faster than a speeding bullet. The idea is to enhance productivity, not just through speed, but also by bundling features like read statuses and undoing sends. It negates the need for all those browser extensions.
Edison is a different take, an automated e-mail assistant that interacts with Edison (the AI) and does everything from unsubscribing from junk mail lists to managing your contacts and bills. It’s another e-mail productivity tool.
On a different front are a series of handy tools to save you from those annoying e-mail trackers that add immensely to your junk mail overload. (How bad is it? Over 40 percent of all the e-mails sent every day are tracked.) One is called Senders. It requires no special software or plugins, intercepting e-mails, scanning for tracking codes and scrubbing when they are found. Another app, Ugly Email, detects and highlights messages in Gmail boxes embedded with tracking software.
Some of the patents around email communication that I have worked on are designed to address a much broader expanse of issues – with improved security at their heart. Working in tandem with all e-mail clients, we enable secure messaging transfer and tracking, for example, along with “for your eyes only” features and a configurable, cryptographic engine for storage.
Today’s e-mail system may not be perfect, but we are seeing many innovations that are making our use of it faster and better and more secure. Yes, it is about time.