It was only a matter of time before Yahoo! did something drastic to its mail client to regain lost glory. Yahoo! Mail has been revamped in honour of its Sweet Sixteenth with a fresh new look, increased storage and some new features that the company hopes will lure in the masses.
Under CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! has applied a fresh coat of paint to nearly all of their products– no discriminations. Yahoo! Mail definitely deserved this bit of refreshment. What was once a premium product, had been languishing unchanged at the company’s Sunnyvale office. It took a 16th birthday for Yahoo! to realise that it was high time its email client hit puberty.
But just as it happens with 16-year-olds, Yahoo has fallen for peer pressure. Even while you excitedly log into your long forgotten Yahoo! account that only contains password change notifications from other services, you might freeze for a second and need to check whether you are mistakenly on Gmail.
The new inbox has Gmail-style wallpaper backgrounds
Yahoo! Mail now bears an uncanny resemblance to the very same product that started its downfall. The type, the spacing, the placement of the navigation buttons and the shortcuts scream, “GMAIL". Too bad this takes a lot away from the neat, thoughtful features the company has put into this redesign.
Once you grudgingly look past the Gmail-esque look of your trusty old email service, you will love the smoothness of things like running through your mails. There’s a neat little shortcut tab that appears in your inbox once you hover over a particular mail. It’ll let you search for other mails from the same sender, delete the email or even star it. Like most services, little check boxes let you select multiple mails and perform batch operations.
Yahoo! has been generous and has made features meant for Mail Plus customers free. Basically, you can take advantage of features such as a disposable email address, enhanced filters, automatic message forwarding and offline message viewing via POP available to everyone, with no extra charge. The only thing you need to pay for now is an ad-free experience. Keeping your already-cluttered inbox free from ads will cost you $49.99 (Rs 3,096 approx.) a year. We think that if your inbox is already so full of mails you’re never going to read, what harm are a couple of ads going to do?
Speaking of an inbox full of mails, Yahoo! seems to want you to sign up for all the newsletters you don't care about. The service now offers a monstrous 1TB of storage for your mails. If that's not clear enough, it helpfully adds that 1TB is equal to 1000GB.
At long last, grouped conversations are here
One new feature that Yahoo! should market as Mail’s USP is the grouping feature. Yahoo! has now started to group messages within a conversation. So, if you’re in that thread about planning a surprise birthday party for a friend, you will be able to go through all the ideas at once.
Well, the features and stuff are great but what about aesthetics? A great revamp involves a good new look besides under-the-hood improvements, right? Let’s rewind a bit and talk about a breath of fresh air that should waft past you as you log in to your account the first time after the redesign. Yahoo! is now offering you impressive looking images – cough, Gmail, cough – that you can use as a background for your inbox. Yahoo! has taken a cue from the well-received Weather redesign and has introduced Flickr images for wallpapers. The Weather product redesign was hailed as one of the most important success stories for Yahoo!, an honour Mayer would gladly put on the back of her business card and all over her office.
While the Weather app has a minimalistic look with slender, sans-serif type that lends it a serene, beautiful look, the same on the Mail application looks a little jarring. The images are beautiful and the colour scheme and fonts are just fine, but put them together and it looks like a poor attempt at design. Oh and just so you know Yahoo! loves Flickr, the company has added a shortcut to view the gallery of images available for use. Hit Escape and you’ll be able to look at them all in a slideshow view.
Now what’s a good email experience if it isn’t uniform on the web as well as mobile? The new experience is available on Android and iOS, and a Windows 8 version is in the works. The company touts syncing as being one of the best bits about this update, and it indeed is. That Flickr image you chose as your background on the web will be plastered on your iOS and Android inboxes too.
The mobile experience gets the neat design too
There is no doubt that Yahoo! has turned its focus to Mail with a vengeance. It started taking baby-steps towards the revamp when it decided to bring Dropbox integration, which (no points for guessing) is very much like Gmail and Drive. Add to it the pretty desperate move of recycling old email IDs to lure in potential users. Want the ID email@example.com? Don’t worry, with Yahoo’s new programme, you might just get it. It supposedly serves the dual purpose of drawing in new users and arm-twisting the older ones into keeping their accounts. And now comes the revamp.
This move may be a decade or so too late, but Mayer’s attempt at still wanting to take a swipe at the current heavyweights of the email world – Gmail and Outlook – is laudable. Too bad then that it seems half-hearted and overtly inspired.