I think it’s cool that they’re trying to rethink email. Technology is all about innovation. I’ll be excited to try it out.
I don’t think someone who doesn’t want to fiddle with email rules is not a “power user” .
I’ve been a long time Gmail user and have been thinking of making a break because of all the privacy issues, etc with Google Services.
I requested an invite to give it a try. I have my own domain as well which I guess for now I’ll forward to hey. I’m a little concerned with the lack of import and custom emails but very interested in giving my email a breath of fresh air.
Lastly, since there’s no calendar or contacts (at least that syncs to my device) I’m thinking of moving those to iCloud. Honestly if Hey falls flat I might move to fast mail, proton or iCloud (something I never thought I would).
I’ve been using it since launch (replacing Gmail) and wrote up my first impressions yesterday.
In short, I think they’re off to a great start. It’s faster, more stable, and nicer looking than I expected it to be. I like it a lot despite not being in the target market (I’m not overwhelmed by email, I don’t dislike it, and I’ve worked hard to bring my incoming email volume way down to the point where I have no use for categories, labels, rules, filters, multiple inboxes, automation, or any of the other popular “power user” cruft).
I appreciate that it’s a paid product, and while it’s a lot less innovative than it thinks it is, it’s also a great assembly of smart ideas that used to exist only in fragmented form, scattered across different apps or services or plugins or extensions. Hey brings a lot of the best ideas from other attempts at “revolutionizing email” together into one very slick interface.
I get why they went with custom copy for certain things, but I don’t think it was the right call. Reply Later instead of Snooze, Imbox instead of Inbox, etc. just feels needlessly alienating. That’s a cosmetic problem though, and it might just be a knee-jerk reaction on my part to dislike it because it’s unfamiliar.
It’s not going to be for everyone though, that’s for sure. I don’t see that as a problem though. I look forward to seeing what the business offering is going to look like once that launches later on—and whether it will allow for things like a unified inbox between one’s personal and work Hey accounts.
Exciting days for email.
An upgrade to GSuite/Gmail is $75/yr, loses the privacy issues, and offers more features than Hey at $100/yr.
Hold on while I put my tin-foil hat on…
I’m a big fan of Protonmail. Their calendar is in beta. They have contacts and an iOS app.
Excellent review, @marius. Thank you!
I don’t have an account invite but if I manage to snag one, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts.
The 14-day free trials open to everyone in a couple of weeks.
- The screener is exactly what it’s been described as. It’s an innovation over Gmail’s “report spam and unsubscribe” for email you don’t care about. And it’s closer to the end of worrying about email being sold or gray area opt-ins you didn’t think you agreed to. I’d just like to be able to categorize straight from there instead of just thumbing up and down. I am a little concerned about the screener piling up, but I like that the screener has been designed to use inbox management inertia in your favor–if you neglect opening the screener for awhile, you’ll keep having a clean inbox instead of starting to have a messy one.
- The inbox/feed/paper trail sections after the screener are really nice, though, because they’re designed differently for different reading modes. I’m actually reading more of my (desired) feed email in less time (basically, getting the benefit of something like Unroll without the inflexibility and privacy leak.)
- The Inbox has a link to read everything all at once that I like (sort of like reading feed emails, but rigthfully not the default view.) It’s not a perfect substitute for prev/next navigation, as I mention below.
- The paper trail transactional emails aren’t handled much differently than some inbox-skipping rules I set up, but I should have to do less fiddling to maintain it. It remains to be seen whether I’ll end up wanting multiple paper trail sections (for payments, development services, etc.)
- Delivery seems fine. It’s not as fast at sending and receiving as Gmail, but it’s only been slow enough to matter once.
- The PDF preview in emails is large and nice looking. You don’t have to actaully download many PDFs to read and respond.
- The design/UX works and doesn’t waste your time. It’s probably too opinionated to work for everyone, but it’s coherent.
- The web app performs way better than Gmail.com.
- Forwarding email is easy (and has special onboarding, not just instructions.) On some threads I have my hey.com address and my gmail address and it understands how to handle that.
- The contact view saves a bit of time by showing your history of communications with that email address. It’s quite pleasant to view several emails from someone you enjoy talking to.
- Undo send is going to be missed. I have proofreading bad habits; I need that!
- There’s no prev/next (or j/k) navigation through Inbox items. They may be thinking that anything in your inbox will deserve enough attention that you don’t mind returning to the inbox (shortcut: “1”) between each email, but that’s not true for me.
- Clips (things you highlight from emails) look nice but are hidden behind a menu with no keyboard shortcut to access. They’re also apparently inaccessible to the kinds of workflows I’d love to use, like creating OF tasks. Hopefully Hey will get an API and Zapier support in the future.
- Not being able to use the Mail iOS app for special tasks is annoying (because there’s no IMAP.) This is mostly because of the lack of in-app PDF workflow. I usually open the Mail app to mark up and return a PDF. In Hey, I have to get the PDF out using the share sheet, mark up, and then re-attach in my reply. Basecamp actually used to have a document markup iPad app so maybe it’ll return here.
- Search appears to be missing advanced operators. If they are available they’re not documented. Even (imo) basic things like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com don’t appear to work. Search doesn’t understand partial words either. It has a way to go. This will become a problem as email volume grows, so while I understand it not being critical on release week, hopefully it’s improved soon.
- Some keyboard shortcuts are missing. Every thread option needs a keyboard shortcut. I can tell they’re missing because I can feel myself trying to use one to do a discrete action–whenever that happens (in any app) it means there should be a shortcut available.
- Private notes on emails have clear UI to let you know you’re writing something private, but the risk is actaully that you’ll write something private in an email reply and it’s not as clear there. Probably because it’s a standard email reply. Basecamp has equally explicit text in both public and private notes. If I end up making many notes, I’ll see how often I find myself starting to put a note in an email. I can tell that the notes feature is part of their product for teams (like conversation threads in Spark’s premium service) and I think their presence in individual email accounts is just a byproduct of that.
- The email body view is so comfortable and expansive, and the browser tab title so minimal (just the subject) that I don’t always recognize I’m in my email when I go back to the tab and I’m in the middle of reading a longer email. I think that view might need a little extra chrome.
- The contacts list is functional, but it doesn’t distinguish between inbox/feed/paper trail contacts. I think this will be more needed as the contacts list grows.
- No calendar seems less than ideal, but I am going to experiment with it. It might be that iCloud calendar management is perfectly good these days.
- As mentioned above, I’m a little concerned about the screener piling up. I wouldn’t want to have to go through and thumb up 5 emails and thumb down 20 more. I’m good about not signing up for junk so it’s not a major issue right now, but I think those who hate the idea of accidentally missing a good email, and get a lot of unsolicited email, might start practicing Screener Zero in lieu of Inbox Zero. There is a passcode feature to let important people through automatically, but of course you have to be in a position to give someone the passcode for that to help.
Overall, I have a good sense of how much time it’s saving me, and I’m finding reading thoughtful personal emails in it an absolute pleasure, so I’m inclined to keep using it, but there are enough edge cases, especially with search, that I’ll be keeping forwarded emails around in Gmail for the foreseeable future.
In case anyone missed it, the App Store rejection issue continues.
The most important takeaway for me: it looks like there won’t be updates to the iOS app or a Mac App Store app until this resolves…
I partly understand Apple’s stance - they don’t want the store gummed up with apps that people can download that they can’t use; it would become an increasingly frustrating experience. So they want apps to at least offer a free trial or limited functionality. Hey is offering 14-day free trials to all in a couple of weeks. If they had offered it from Day 1 they’d have a stronger case. Still, the store rules in question, which apparently only came into being only a couple of years ago, would have resulted in problems anyway.
Apple insist on taking a cut once payment gets involved for “non reader” apps, which is a somewhat arbitrary distinction. I have a feeling it’s one they were forced into making once big app-products like Kindle and Netflix were on their to opting-out of the App Store and Apple realistically would have met a consumer spitstorm if they’d tried banning the apps for removing IAP. So it seems they threaded the needle on this to say payment through the App Store wasn’t mandatory but must be optional for “non-reader apps” and those apps must have some sort of functionality to any user upon download to as not to fill up the App Store with unusable but freely downloadable apps.
I think it’s such a delicate balance they’re trying to make, but in the face of political realities of skepticism from governments around the world, it may simply become untenable.
Companies arguing against Apple aren’t innocent, though. Spotify offers free and pay tiers but they don’t want to pay Apple anything regardless - not even have IAP an option - and they’ve been spending large sums behind the scenes lobbying lawmakers around the world against Apple. That’s unreasonable given the huge infrastructure Apple created and maintains to host, advertise, promote and test apps in the store; they are not merely a payments processor.
Is there a right answer? I don’t know, but I don’t like what Apple’s done and it’s going to turn the political screws on them if they maintain their current stance. Is there a middle ground? Not if apps don’t want to pay anything.
What are your Thoughts so far?
Surprise surprise: Hey is now offering its 14-day trial in the iOS app, and Apple approved it. “Fried went on to say that the new free email tier were inspired by comments that Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, made”
Got my invite. I have two more invite codes I’d be happy to share with the community – shoot me a PM If you’re interested.
An alternative to hey: https://bye.fyi
i love this. Now this is innovation
Really wish this was $50/yr… $99 is too steep for me.
Someone’s a big spender!