EasilyDo Mail – speedy new mail app

As I expected, new email apps do not stop coming. This time new app from EasilyDo

In addition, the new EasilyDo Mail app offers several unique features aimed at differentiating its app from other alternative mail clients on iOS, including tools to detect and prevent email tracking, ways to quickly unsubscribe from newsletters and automated mailings, email snoozing, and faster search, to name a few.

Many of other email clients have many of mentioned, so I'm not sure how much differentiation that would be. 

Not the last email client

This past New Year season was special in many regards. Yet, one thing in particular stood out: a number of new email clients entered the scene and a number of older ones changed dresses to keep up with the play.

In these recent times we've got (in order of appearance):

In the nearest future we expect to get at least new Spark for Mac.

For a crowded and low-margin market like email clients and email services market that's a lot. The increased interest to sending and receiving emails with taste can be attributed to now officially documented death of Mailbox, to reignited conversations around privacy of communication, and partially to decay of current market leaders. Developers could not miss the chance to fill the void of email innovation. But as this wave of enthusiasm washes out will there be anything interesting after that? Have we seen the last major email client?

I argue not. Email is based on a protocols created more than 30 years ago. It became so universal and ubiquitous that there will always be something that could be done better for some of the various emailing use cases. And developers will always try to fill those bubbles of void that regularly appear in different places of the email universe.

Every platform has to have an email client. Each vendor provides one as a part of platform's standard offering. The standard email client has to be capable, but it can not be remarkable, it can not alienate users. It has to serve diverse audience of platform users. By the virtue of this fact developers of platform apps can not take bold moves in user experience design. And they have little incentive for providing beyond-standard functionality. Standard email clients are usually the best in integration with their mother platform. Yet they leave enough of features to be desired and let other apps try to address them.

After all these years we use email as a communication vehicle in every possible way. We talk to one another (although admittedly more rarely via email these days). We get notifications from services. We share files. We receive information in newsletters. We use email as a common denominator of electronic communication, when other channels can fail. This naturally creates the world, where someone who never received a newsletter cannot appreciate Spark's ability to add link to Instapaper or Pocket in one click, or someone who is used to quickly sorting through his inbox with gestures in Mailbox is not a big fan of GMail app. Different email apps excel in different areas and have their own fandom.

There is another outcome from the email being with us for such a long time. Developers tried almost every way to squeeze every last penny off the market. Sparrow was the first to show that an email app alone cannot sustain its own development and support. Mailbox has shown that subsidizing mail app development with other sources of revenue does not always work. Email apps market has scale – [almost] everybody needs a way to send and receive emails – but has to bring money from elsewhere to be sustainable. Many have tried and many will try to solve this conundrum to give us the last email client we will ever need.

Figuring out business model for an email app is important. Email apps are complex. Even bare minimum of features requires a lot of things: support for GMail, implementation of IMAP, some sort of contacts management, decent performance for dealing with our multi-gigabyte mailboxes, and more. All this makes developing new world's best email app a costly endeavor with uncertain financial outcomes. And, as if that was not enough, we have to take into account that most modern email clients can not function without a backend of their own. If app manages to get to any meaningful scale, operational costs of keeping the lights on for the app will be really high.

All that said, developers are creative people. Some of them are risky and brave. And although we are now in a period of relative calm in email client news, I believe we have not seen the last greatest email client to rule them all.

Nik Software: once $500 now free

Google announced that a set of 7 plugins for wode range of photo editing tasks is now available for free (get it here).

PetaPixel recaps history of Nik Software:

You may remember that Google acquired Nik Software and its popular Snapseed photo editing app back in September 2012. Although Google killed off Snapseed for Desktop in March 2013, it was still big news when Google started selling the entire Nik suite (originally valued at around $500) for the “low price” of $150 later that month.

Now it’s free.

Nik Software was founded in 1995 and now a decade of depelopers' effort and creativity is avaialbe for free. That's something hard to compete against.

Changes at SourceForge

Somehow I missed that SourceForge and Slashdot were sold at the end of January.

New owners promised to stop monetization practices that undermined the developer's trust and caused prominent apps to leave the site. And they already started delivering on that:

Our first order of business was to terminate the “DevShare” program. As of last week, the DevShare program was completely eliminated. The DevShare program delivered installer bundles as part of the download for participating projects. We want to restore our reputation as a trusted home for open source software, and this was a clear first step towards that.

A move in the right direction, but it remains to be seen how much that would help to ensure SourceForge.com's future.

Quartz’s news app for iPhone

Interesting take on news delivery. The app will

... send you messages, photos, GIFs, and links, and you can tap to respond when you’re interested in learning more about a topic. Each session lasts just a few minutes, so it’s perfect for the train, elevator, grocery store line, or wherever you have a spare moment to catch up on the news.

There are many indications that chat can be the next big thing for interfaces (at least for some types of services). I'm not sure if it is going to work for news without some sort of smarts on the other side. Seems that it is not there yet and the app currently relies on "curated" (i.e. predefined stories). In my try getting to news pieces I'd want to explore deeper took longer than scrolling through headlines in a more traditional app. But I'll sure try again.

Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein’s Theory

Predicted 100 years ago:

Einstein was not quite sure about these waves. In 1916, he told Karl Schwarzschild, the discoverer of black holes, that gravitational waves did not exist, then said they did. In 1936, he and his assistant Nathan Rosen set out to publish a paper debunking the idea before doing the same flip-flop again.

Huge step in our understanding of the Universe.

Clearview is not the new highway sign font

Older font Highway Gothic will not be replaced by newish Clearview as it does not live up to expectations to deliver better legibility in various conditions:

But, it turns out, later research has not backed up this initial belief. It turns out that all that research suggesting the new font might be more legible was more due to the fact that older, worn signs were being replaced with nice, fresh, clean signs which were, naturally, more legible.

An exemplar case when coincidendal relation was confused with consequential.

Crowdfunding not working out for Jolla

As Jolla team announced in the their New Year greeings, there will not be enough tablets for all the backer of the project:

The bad news here is that we are not able to complete the production to fulfill all contributions. In other words, all of our backers will not get a Jolla Tablet.

As industry we are still looking for ways to fund reasonably large projects with significant research component. And crowdfunding isn't a way to go.