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If you've used one email app, you've used them all—or so it seems. At their core, they let you view your inbox, write new messages, and reply to or forward existing conversations. They also likely include a calendar and contacts tool to keep all your core personal information together. It's something you use when you have to, but not one of the apps you love.
Then, there's the new Zoho Mail. Designed to reinvent email, it takes cues from team chat and social software that are increasingly replacing email. Instead of featuring just your mail, Zoho Mail lets you work together with your team with mail-in group folders and quick chats about your work without having to send a full email. And it's part of the Zoho suite of apps, so you can write documents, create custom apps for your business, and much more from one place.
You'll feel at home when you first open your Zoho Mail inbox. In many ways, Zoho Mail fulfills most of the features of any standard email app. The layout is familiar to most users, with your inbox front and center, sorting/filtering options at the top, and an options bar on the left. Select a message, and it'll open in a popover pane on the right side, so you're able to browse your inbox at the same time. Once you’re reading an email, you can even select the Reader view for a distraction-free environment.
Need to write a message? Click the clearly marked New Mail button in the top left, and your interface will change into message composition/editing mode. The far right toolbar contains options to do things like leave a sticky note, make comments, or view attachment files. The inbox interface also functions as a browser-like tab bar, where you can have various functions like email composition, advanced settings, and attachment library open at once as you would on the web.
You can also toggle between other Zoho tools from inside the Zoho Mail interface. This includes built-in tools like a calendar, contacts list, tasks, and notes. When selected, the tool simply opens as another tab in the main inbox browser interface. This makes it easy to reference other content in your account (appointment dates, contact info, etc.), then quickly switch back to writing an email. Similarly, Zoho Mail allows you to search across all of your entities—email, of course, but also Streams, Tasks, Notes, Calendar, Attachments, Contacts, and Bookmarks. The eWidget icon offers a seamless experience when connecting to any external integrated applications as well, allowing you to access information and take action in other apps without leaving Zoho Mail.
If you want to make sure tasks don't slip through the cracks, you can add reminders for follow-up tasks and messages. You'll even be able to schedule emails and have them be sent at a future date and time. It's an easy way to queue up emails ahead of time for things like a new product release or event date. Finally, Zoho Mail offers Night and Day modes so that the brightness on your screen is adjusted accordingly.
All of those tools make it easier to manage your email and keep your inbox from being a frustrating place where ideas go to die. But the new Zoho Mail is designed for teams, and works better if you're using it for your entire company. There are two tools for that: shared folders and streams. Shared folders work as you'd expect. Just make a folder, share it with your team, then everyone who it's shared with will see every email that's saved to that folder. They help your team work on shared messages, perhaps with partners or suppliers for your company.
Streams, on the other hand, help you talk to your team about those messages or anything else you need to discuss. You can make a stream and @mention anyone on your team, then send a quick message to them. It's a bit like team chat or a company Facebook—a simple way to discuss things with colleagues without having to make a full email with a title and signature. You can even turn an email into a stream, to start a conversation about something in your inbox.
Zoho Mail is still email, with tools to make it better. It won't keep your team from using email—but it likely will make those messages more effective and quicker to send. It's a slight tweak to make email a bit less painful.