Back when the internet was starting to gain traction, one of the great benefits that came from it was email: a much quicker and easier to manage form of communication than the traditional letter. As technology has improved, email has managed to stick through all of the other changes in communication, including Instant Messaging (IM). Many have come to prefer IM over email, however it doesn’t make much sense to share your IM username (whether it’s Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, Whatsapp, etc) with more professional relationships. This is even despite the fact that after several emails in one thread, the formality that both parties followed in the beginning tends to fade, to more closely match the type of communication that exists in IM.
Not only does this help you find an email containing information you may have forgotten earlier in a thread, but helps make using email easier to do. Does this approach to email actually help?
The design of the app is curious to me. Overall, it looks good, and fits well with the IM theme. However, some of the icons, particularly those you see when swiping to the left over a message, look very pixellated (pictured below). This one place where the design falls makes the app feel not well-done, despite the fact that the app runs fluidly and the rest of the design is great. It gives me mixed feelings.
Other than that, the app looks great, and while it needs some polishing, it’s off to a great start for a brand new app.
The idea of Hop is to pull together your emails into a running thread that looks like an IM client, but still have it run through email. This brings many benefits, the biggest of which allows finding a past email with information you need much easier. You don’t have to scroll all the funky formatting that all the different email clients out there place into their email threads. Hop automatically strips all of that, and places the text of the very last email into a message-like bubbles (pictured below). Also, the app was always faster in retrieving an email before my other email applications, allowing it to really feel like IM.
In terms of making email feel like IM, Hop succeeds really well. However, this method brings two issues from my perspective:
- Since the emails look more like an IM, my instinct is to reply to messages as such. So rather than typing out more formal, professional responses, I feel inclined to respond in a short, informal manner, and even include emoticons. Not only is this unprofessional, but it proves difficult for separating personal conversations with work-related conversations.
- Hop seems to always combine conversations with the same person, despite their being a different “Subject”. While I understand the continuity in providing an IM-like experience, there are times when I’d like to find a different email thread based on the “Subject”.
Hop is a great idea, and will fit well into a generation where immediate results are desired. However, I think the app needs some work and polishing, especially in its design. Also, I don’t think this is the best solution for business application, as the informal feel of conversation and combination of different subjects makes working professionally in the email more difficult.
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