I didn’t quite understand all the hoo-hah around achieving ‘inbox zero’ until I started working at multiple blogs, enrolled in an educational institute with a proper mailing system, and took up several other side-activities that relied on email for communication. I thought ‘inbox zero’ was just another concept made up by the overly & unnecessarily hyper-productive to sound productive. Now, however, I don’t just want to achieve Inbox Zero; I need to. If there is any unread, unreplied or unarchived email in any one of my three Gmail inboxes – separate for work, school, and personal – I feel as if I am lagging behind.
In other words, modern email is a chore. It’s a laborious task to manage. It’s something you have to deal with in the modern world. Apps like Mailbox, and Triage do make the process shorter but it still feels like work.
Hop (previously known as Ping) wants to make email a more playful experience – much like WhatsApp, Viber, Kik or the dozens of other instant messaging apps available across all mobile platforms today. Does it succeed? That’s what we shall find out in this review. Read on.
A Novel Way Of Treating Email
Setting up an email account with Hop is super-easy; It works exactly like every other email app you’ve used before on iOS. Select one of the four supported email services – Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, or iCloud – and log in with your credentials. You can also integrate your account with Facebook during the setup process to download profile pictures for contacts, if you wish.
When you’re gracefully shown your inbox for the first time, you’ll wonder if you’re looking at an email client or an instant messaging app. Emails are no longer separated by subject, but instead there is now a thread for each separate contact. So, my correspondence with Sameed over which apps to review next here on AddictiveTips all go under one thread, even if they have different subjects. Within a single thread, you can share standard text messages, photos, web images, doodles and even voice messages – just like the aforementioned IM apps. Hop even shows when the other user is typing a new email message, but this only works if the other person is using Hop to compose it.
It’s a novel way of treating email, that’s for sure. It’s fast, less formal, short, and punchy in a way.
Hop automatically detects more boring emails – press releases, notifications from Google+ or Facebook etc. – and puts them in a separate tab. How it does this exactly, I do not know, but it works well. They’ve even included Mailbox-like inbox management by allowing you to send emails to different folders for getting back to later.
I did have a couple of issues while using Hop. It just wouldn’t quickly send or receive simple messages while I was testing it. Sameed and I didn’t get each other’s messages for 3-4 minutes, though it started working fine by itself later on. This is probably an issue with their backend infrastructure, which must be under heavy-load at the moment, even though they are using a queuing system for slowly letting in new users.
Overall, I genuinely like the idea and the way the developers have executed it, but…
The World Has Moved On
It is still not the magical app that will solve all your inbox overflow problems. I can see this being enjoyed among a certain class of users: people who use email for some casual communication, forwarding jokes, vacation photos and videos to family members; Hop will certainly make email easier and more fun for them. However, it just doesn’t work for the rest of us who strictly use email for serious communication.
By now the world has moved on from email to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, iMessage, Hangouts, Skype, and Viber for casual communication. Hop would’ve made a revolution in the early or even late 2000s but in these days, email is rather ‘boring’ and there seems to be no viable way to change it or the people using it.
Maybe I’m being too pessimistic. Maybe this review of mine will be like one of those posts that people make fun of ten years down the line when Hop-like instant messaging email becomes dominant. Maybe John Gruber will link back to this post and file it under his ‘Claim Chowder’ posts. Only time will tell. For the time being, though, I’m sticking to a mix of Mailbox and Triage for managing my ever-overflowing email inbox while I use WhatsApp and Facebook for short, casual messaging.
Again, this is just my opinion on the app. It cannot be taken as the final word on Hop’s ultimate success or failure as an email client. I strongly suggest you try it out for yourself before making any judgements. Just be sure to wait in a long queue! There are several thousand users waiting in line for their turn. Hop’s team assures us this is not a PR move, but for ensuring their back-end infrastructure doesn’t come crashing down under heavy load.