Author: Remy Bergsma

Inbox launched by Google, an evolution from Gmail

inbox-by-gmail-google-emailGoogle has launched Inbox, a new way of handling email. It has been developed by the people behind Gmail, but goes beyond the current functionality of Gmail.

In the official announcement it is noted that email can get overwhelming and drown out important things that need your attention, or tasks that need to be done. The following video shows a few of the features of Inbox used in everyday life.

Details of several elements of Inbox are described below.

 

Bundles: handling similar types of email automatically in Inbox

If you’ve used categories in Gmail, then Bundles should be easy to use as well. It allows you to group similar types of email together, review them and delete them when needed. Inbox can learn to handle Bundles of emails from the way you process them.

inbox-screenshot-by-google-nexus6-gmail

Highlights: important things first

Have something important in a certain message? Highlights will allow you to view key information from that message. In this case, things like event information, photos and documents from friends and family as well as flight itineraries. Also, Inbox will show useful info from the web (which Gmail has had some Lab options for) like real-time flight status updates and package delivery info. Highlights is supposed to work together with Bundles to provide the important information necessary for easy viewing.

Reminders, Assists, and Snooze: Inbox gives you your to-do’s on your own terms

The best inbox ninjas are the ones that handle email as a task manager: either delete all the FYI and other stuff, or make anything else that needs an action a task in your calendar. Inbox allows you to add your own Reminders to help remember to do certain things.

inbox-assists-google-gmail

Next to that, it has another task list feature: Assists, which help you with information to get things done. An example would be to write a Reminder to call a shop, where Assists would show you the phone number and whether they are open. Assists work within email as well: Inbox can add a map to a confirmation email when you make a restaurant reservation online. Flying anywhere? Inbox will provide a link to check-in.

Lastly, Inbox has Snooze: this can be used to ‘Snooze away’ emails and Reminders for when it’s not the right time to handle them. Set Snooze to have them come back at another time -or- specific location, like at home or at the office.

If you’d like to try out Inbox, send an email to inbox@google.com for an Inbox invite.

More details can be found on the official Gmail blog here.

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Microsoft rejects handing over emails stored overseas

PCMag reports that Microsoft rejects handing over emails stored overseas in Ireland. A New York judge ordered the email data to be handed over to the US government, while the data is stored in Ireland. The emails were requested by the US government this summer. Judge Preska approved this request in a ruling in late July. However, the green light for the government to go ahead and get the emails off the Microsoft servers in Ireland was only given last Friday. The reason for this was to allow Microsoft time to appeal the ruling.

Microsoft rejects handing over emails stored overseas

A Microsoft datacenter in Dublin, Ireland

The reason Microsoft refuses to hand over the emails is privacy. This is noted by Microsoft chief privacy officer Brendon Lynch in a blog article from August 27th. A quote from the article:

So far the courts have sided with the U.S. government, but we are appealing the latest decision. This case could have important implications outside the U.S.  Other governments could demand emails held in datacenters outside their jurisdiction. In fact, earlier this month the British government passed a law asserting its right to require tech companies to produce emails stored anywhere in the world. This would include emails stored in the U.S. by Americans who have never been to the UK.

Brendo points to Microsoft’s Digital Constitution website which shows a timeline of events, posts and surveys about the situation and how Microsoft is responding to the situation.

Microsoft is not alone in its stance on privacy online: other large technology corporations including Cisco and Apple support the company’s vision. This can be found on the ‘what others are saying‘ page on the Digital Constitution website.

Modern technology can be both a blessing and a curse for people and corporations. While it enables to communicate with everyoen everywhere, and find all the information on any subject, however obscure, it also poses security and privacy issues. While some laws and regulations have been updated over the years, legislation in general is lagging behind technology developments.

In the case of Microsoft’s refusal to hand over the emails, I believe Microsoft has a strong point when it comes to trust. If trust in a company is lost by its customers, can it ever be rewon when it comes to online services like email?

Source: PCmag

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Email comic: we must be on a mailing list

Have you ever had the feeling your email address had landed on the ‘wrong’  mailing list?
These guys in this email comic have arrived on a deserted island together. Being cut off from the world, messages in bottle arrive via the sea:

email-comic-we-must-be-on-a-mailing-list

Then again, even if you have subscribed yourself to the right mailing list, it sometimes feels like your being flooded with messages. While consistency and continuity is good in email marketing, you really can flood your audience. Make sure you’ll find a goldilocks zone of frequency in email marketing. That could be sending out an email campaign once a day, but it could also mean sending out email campaigns once every week or two weeks.

This frequency impacts many of your company’s processes, if email marketing is one of the core channels through which you bring in new business -and- lift existing customers to the next level. Think of sales, marketing but also content creation and customer support. When you notice both your existing customers and would-be customers are craving more input, be it inspiration, products to buy or such: be sure your organization is ready for it. Both you, your company -and- your customers can only benefit from it. After all, isn’t that the sole reason companies exist: to make their customers more succesful in business?

In this comic however, it’s a bit of an overload, so keep an eye on your email frequency: enough is enough.

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German anti-stress law in the making that bans work email and phone calls outside office hours

In Germany, it’s already common at a few employers to not receive any work email and/or phone calls outside office hours. Companies that have enforced this in the past years include BMW, Volkswagen and Telekom. However, the German government, in this case the minister for Employment Andrea Nahles, is looking into the creation of an anti-stress law.

german-anti-stress-law

image via Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/screamingmonkey/4839552797/

According to an interview posted on RP-online (Google Translate link), Nahles’ goal with the new law is to let all Germans have proper downtime, after work time. With modern economics and communications having people send out work emails and phone calls around the clock, the boundaries between work and private life are fading. This is dangerous when it comes to recharging one’s energy during private time, so one can go to work refreshed and healthily.

The problem with legislation like this German anti-stress law is that on the one hand, being concerned about people’s mental health and stress levels is good and important, on the other hand government involvement in situations like this can be seen as too big brother-ish.

Find out more about the details of the plans concerning this new German anti-stress law in the Google Translate-linked article here.

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