It was my Yahoo! Mail Beta (YMB) review way back that gave me some recognition in cyberspace. Indeed, not everyday do you get to be among the Chosen Ones who come up on the Yahoo! Mail Beta love letters page.
Yahoo! Mail Beta has come a long way from that, with loads of changes along the way. So I thought it was time to do a review 2.0 on the thing. Sadly, I won’t be able to talk about the Mail-Messenger integrated feature if Y! Mail Beta yet because it hasn’t found its way to my server farm yet (they’re rolling it out in phases). I just wish I get to play with that quickly. I do have an updated version with loads of tweaking around done. This won’t be a full review, I’ve done that earlier, but I’ll list down some points about Y! Mail Beta. Please note that this is a cumulative roundup – some of these features have been around for months, while others are pretty new.
- I’ll start with the smaller things, and then move on to bigger ones. A new addition, quite some time back, has been the calendar timeline at the bottom of the screen which shows current events from your Yahoo! Calendar. You can go through future or past events, edit events, add reminders and do loads. It’s a very handy tool, especially if you use Y! Calendar to keep track of things a lot (like I do). You can turn this feature off too if you want, but why should you?
- Tired of that flashy ad while reading a message and want more space? You can hide it by clicking a button for it! So if that message you’re reading needs more screen real estate, nirvana is one button-click away.
- The contacts option is even better now, and offers all fields that the standalone Yahoo! Address Book gives, and with fun features; like in case you’ve entered a person’s address in your address book, you can click on the map icon to open the location in Yahoo! Maps.
- YMB’s inbuilt feed reader is even better now. The procedure for adding feeds now also allows previews, adds feeds faster, and does a better job of managing them. And of course, anytime you like a feed post and want to save it, just drag and drop into a folder of your choice.
- Now you can have the weather forecasts in your city too. That’s along with the news clippings on the sections of your interest that you got earlier too. Right now, the temperatures will only be showed in Fahrenheit, but I wrote to Yahoo! Customer Care and they got back to me saying they’re considering adding Celsius options as soon as there is enough demand.
- Coming to the interface, they’ve tweaked around and made it better. Checkboxes to select messages and perform actions are back, and it’s a welcome change. Well, selecting messages was easy earlier too, but now you can use checkboxes and / or Ctrl+click (or Shift+click for multiple) for the same thing. For people transitioning, it only makes the switch to YMB easier.
- You still have the nifty drag-and-drop facility, but now you can also select messages and use the move button to move them to a folder you want.
- No longer does the view button say ‘More coming soon’. It gives you options to arrange messages by different criteria now. Again, you could have done this earlier too, by clicking on the message info tabs, say Subject or Date, to arrange them descending or ascending, just like on a desktop explorer app.
- I’ve mentioned this earlier, but I love this crazy thing so much that I’m mentioning it again. If in the compose message window you click on the Subject button, it generates a random and hilarious message. Also, clicking on To or CC presents your contacts in a popup window. This was there from the very beginning. I like sending messages with crazy titles like If money can’t buy happiness, can it at least rent it for some time?
- Once again, YMB is greased lightning. On comparative test, I’ve found that YMB loads faster than Gmail or Windows Live Hotmail on my computer. Attachments load faster, and unlike Gmail where you need divine powers to figure out whether the attachment is done loading or connection to server is lost from your browser’s ‘Transferring data…’ notification, YMB gives icon-based indication on what it is doing. And the Liam animations during load time are funny!
- There’s a new switching feature which allows you to switch email services easily by transferring data to your Yahoo! account. Now this one is powered by TrueSwitch, and they’ll need your username and password for the switch, but it’s an authorized Yahoo! service and can make life a lot easier, by not having to exports CSV files and then finding that data is lost because of formatting problems.
- Another switching option allows YMB users to switch their provider to Yahoo! UK, while retaining their .com address. Rach must be already opening that page by now I guess…
- The attachments page no longer opens in a popup – just choose the files to send, and it’ll keep uploading while you keep typing. Same as earlier, just that you don’t need to have a popup now. And I’ve found (and I guess Prashanth will also vouch for this) that YMB takes much less time to transfer attachments either way than Gmail.
- YMB shortcuts – I simply LOVE them. No mucking around with Ctrl+Alt+Shift+42-knows-what-else combinations that other web apps generally have. YMB shortcuts are intuitive too – ‘Del’ for deleting, ‘r’ for replying, ‘f’ for forwarding etc. Makes life (or the parts of it which require email checking) helluva lot easier.
- Official mails from Yahoo!, like Yahoo! Customer Care and all now have a cute Y! icon next to them. Makes me feel better, and is a good safeguard against phishing.
- Yahoo! Mail’s searches have always been good – now they’re even better. Well, I’m just mentioning it again actually, you could always use qualifiers like ‘to’ and ‘from’ while searching.
- The options page doesn’t take you to the old interface – you can work in the YMB interface except for some options like account management and all.
- When adding feeds, it now allows you to see previews too before you decide whether you want to add it.
- Best of all, no storage limit accounts soon!
I’d said in my earlier review, Yahoo! Mail Beta is the future of email. The future really does look good with all the tweaking going on, for the better, each time. Nobody has got the desktop app feel as properly as Yahoo! has, and I like that.
PS – What have I done! I posted a review praising Yahoo! Now I’ll have Prashanth, Abhishek N and assorted Google fans getting irritated with me for the next 42 hours! LOL guys, no offence meant. ;) Sigh. I think this is another one of those posts whose comment list keeps on growing with rhetoric, illogical arguments, logical arguments, blatant advertising, useful stuff and product pitches et al, from both sides of the Yahoo-Google divide…