A couple of days back, Zoho released their email service – Zoho Mail. Zoho provides a comprehensive suite of online productivity applications and their foray into email service is something that surprised me. The question being that there are several well established players in this space and how is Zoho going to win over people and get them to use their email service.
With all this in mind, I had a quick look at what they provide. At first look it looks more like Yahoo Mail. Then a couple of differentiators start to appear. Here is a list of things I could observe after a couple of days of playing with the service.
- There are no annoying ads. This is most welcome.
- There is no limit to Inbox size. This is something done by most email providers today.
- After login, a tab with all the unread emails are shown. Good
- Emails can be organized based on folders or labels whichever is convenient. This I see as something to calm down a section of the crowd which was asking for Google’s blood since GMail does not support folders.
- The standard Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Sent, Trash and Spam folders are provided
- No default labels. Some of you might like to get started with something like Important, Work, Personal etc. but this is not a problem since new labels can be easily created. This is also somewhat compensated by providing different colored flags to mark emails as Important, Follow-up etc.
- Mails can be viewed in flat mode or threaded mode. Threaded mode is activated by clicking on the chat icon that appears next to the flag. This icon is present only if multiple conversations exist which is a nifty little feature.
- Clicking on the from address of an email lists all emails from that sender in a new tab. This acts more like a quick search and is very useful too.
- Other standard options such as move emails between folders, marek as read or unread are available. But I was not able to drag and drop emails into folders.
- A views pane on the lower left corner helps to view messages that have been flagged, unread, archived and Contacts.
- I was not aware that POP3 was supported until I clicked the Whats New link. So, there we have it, POP3 is supported.
- Mail from other email accounts can be managed using Zoho Mail.
- A set of three icons on the lower left corner provide access to Contacts, Profile and Notifications.
- Attachments could be opened in Zoho’s own online applications such as Writer, Sheet, Show and the like. Zoho Chat is integrated into email so that one can chat with online contacts.
- A big selling point is Zoho Mail can work offline using Google Gears technology which Google themselves have not integrated into their email system.
- The layout can be customized by displaying or hiding certain columns which some users may find useful or otherwise.
- I have two major complaints. One, when I click Compose, a new window opens. Personally, I hate this and like to keep everything in tabs within the same window. An optional three pane layout with the preview to the right end would have been really useful for people using wide screen monitors or laptops.
Though there is nothing to really distinguish Zoho Mail from the big boys up there, people who prefer a neat and clean interface without annoying adds might find this just right. It would be a great value add to people already using Zoho’s services and have to utilise another provider’s services for email.