New Yahoo Mail Smells Like Gmail (2012)

With ex-Google executive Marissa Meyer reigning the purple company as CEO, it is not surprising why Yahoo seems to be on trance in releasing many updates on  their key web applications and services. It is clear that Yahoo is determined in catching up  the competitors.

Ever since I reviewed the New Yahoo Mail in 2011, I used it once in a while only but it never replaced Gmail as my primary email client anymore. Then came the new Outlook.com in Q3 2012 which is a radical rebranding of Hotmail. At the moment I use Outlook.com more often than Yahoo already. Then a few days earlier I received the newly updated Yahoo Mail and Yahoo claims that it the best ever Yahoo Mail ever. Is it really the best update ever?

New Yahoo Mail Features

Below is the screenshot of the new email composer. Is it much more refined compared to the older version? I can\’t really remember. However, when compared to Gmail and Outlook  I think they are all about the same now. Gmail took a minimalist approach after they revamped the composer recently and it currently lacks emoticon support unless you switched back to the older email composer. Outlook has the most number of emoticons (or should I say emoji?) while Yahoo still sports their very old line up of standard emoticons.

\"New

The features highlighted in 2011 are the following: visibly faster email, enhanced security, mobility and integration, ease of use, automatic organizer and personal archive.

This year, the features are somewhat the same, just in different packaging. At first you may not notice the difference but the user interface had been refined and simplified to make logging in and writing email faster than ever.

\"New

The dark buttons are gone. Instead of words —  Reply, Reply All and Forward are now just big icons. Several buttons are labelled to make sure that you don\’t confuse them with other icons such as Delete, Move, Spam and Actions.

Other noticeable difference is the removal of Yahoo Messenger, Sign Out, Options and Help links at the top to make room for a generic Yahoo pull-down menu at the top right corner, followed by Yahoo Mail logo, search mail / search web, then finally user account links, options and a home icon linked to Yahoo.com homepage. Finally, Yahoo Mail has so much cleaner and intuitive UI.

Resemblance to Gmail

If you put Gmail and Yahoo Mail side by side, you\’ll start to notice the similarities. Gmail has one black menu bar at the top. Yahoo is using a menu icon (three stacked rectangles) where all other Yahoo services are linked. Then you have one big search bar, then you user account links and other options at the right.

Yahoo and Gmail both use monochromatic icons. The only reason my icons in Gmail are colored in the screenshot below is because I am using Gmelius.

Even the placement of Yahoo Contacts is reminiscent to Gmail, except that in Gmail you have to click Gmail to get access to a drop down option for Contacts and Tasks.

\"Gmail

I don\’t think Yahoo is ripping off Google here but Yahoo is dangerously going in that direction.

iPhone, Android and Windows 8

Perhaps the best part of this New Yahoo Mail update is that Yahoo updated their native apps as well.

Windows 8 in particular is treated with an interface designed only for Windows 8. It comes with notifications and live tile support exploiting new features of Windows 8.

I also like the Android and iPhone app because they offer superb mobile email experience similar to Gmail.

Conclusion

The New Yahoo Mail can be described in three words:  fast, easy and anywhere. It really is the best release of Yahoo Mail so far despite looking more like Gmail after each iteration.

The native apps on Android, iOS and Windows 8 gives a consistent experience across different platform and has very high quality, which shows Yahoo can really compete in the apps space when it really tries. Let\’s hope Yahoo will continue to come up with more innovations.

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7 Kick-ass Web Apps Integrated with Buffer App

\"Buffer

Buffer App

I have used Buffer app for a long time and it solves a  very basic problem in sharing content on social networks – over sharing. If you have not used Buffer and you tweet a lot, you need Buffer to space your tweets apart or distribute them in scheduled intervals so that your followers won\’t receive consecutive tweets invading their Twitter timeline or Facebook news feeds. In many ways, it makes you more courteous. Buffer apps makes you more productive too because it gives you the opportunity to optimize and tailor your tweets or posts delivery date.

Buffer app works stand alone as a web app, browser extension and mobile app. I am going to focus on web apps integrated  with Buffer because these apps give users flexibility in sharing content.

So let\’s start the list for 7 kick-ass web apps integrated with Buffer app.

7. Twylah

Twylah brings focus to your Twitter stream and it makes it easy to organize what topics you are tweeting about in Twitter. You can embed Twylah widget in your blog to display your trending topics. You can also host your own Twylah page on your domain to give your readers a clear overview on what you are talk about online.

You can use Buffer when doing Power Tweets. A Power Tweet is simply a tweet sent from Twylah which includes a custom landing page. It\’s great for tweeting videos, photos, audio and other interactive media.

\"Buffer

6. IFTTT

If This Then Than (IFTTT) is a service that uses different web apps or even real-life objects like WeMo to let you combine triggers and actions using channels (apps/object). These combinations are called recipe.

Buffer is included in the 1st batch of channels available in IFTTT.

\"Buffer

5. Strawberry Jam

Strawberryj.am is one of the first, if not the first, 100% friend based trend spotter for Twitter. It compresses similar tweets of people or brands that you follow.

\"Buffer

4. Kippt

I only discovered Kippt recently because I am Delicious fanatic. It is a link saving site similar to Delicious but it seems to be influenced by Instagram and Pinterest design. Functionally, it reminds me of Spring Pad without the thumbnails and images.

What\’s different with Kippt is that it is integrated with a lot more social networks. Aside from Facebook and Twitter it connects to Tumblr and App.net too. You can also read your links later with Instapaper, Readability and Pocket.

\"Buffer

3.  Jugnoo

Jugnoo is a relatively new social CRM. It has many bells and whistles needed for your social media campaign including social post, social dashboard, social search, Facebook coupons, video creation and distribution and a lot more.

Buffer app integration comes in social post feature.

\"Buffer

2. Tweriod

The Buffer app + Tweriod combo is one of the best method to maximize scheduled tweets.

Tweriod can analyze your last 1,000 followers for free to give you the best time for scheduling your tweets. Then, you can use the proposed time from Tweriod to Buffer using their integration.

\"Buffer

 

1. SocialBro

SocialBro is a powerful browser app that became even more powerful when it was made available in the cloud recently. You can get accurate information about your community, find the best time to tweet, know the time zones of your followers, monitor your follower grow, filter and sort followers/following using different criteria as well as manager your Twitter lists.

The integration of Buffer comes in Best Time to Tweet (BTT) feature. You can use the data from SocialBro BTT and import it to Buffer to define your custom schedule.

\"SocialBro

As you can see above, Hootsuite also entered the scheduled Tweets space and is also integrated with SocialBro.

There are many more social tools trying to do what Buffer has done but what makes Buffer special is its deep integration with these web apps and native mobile apps.

Bonus

\"Commun.it

Commun.it will soon have Buffer app integrated as well. Commun.it makes it easier to build relationship and manage your community.

Update: Commun.it has now shipped the Buffer app integration, live:

\"Buffer

I have not included extensions and native mobile apps here because at least in Android Buffer can be integrated really easily with built-in Android sharing feature. In IOS not so much but I am seeing similar trend — more and more social media tools are integrating Buffer.

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10 Outlook.com Features That Makes It A Gmail Killer

Gmail vs. Outlook.com

\"Outlook.comI am testing Microsoft Office 2013 suite in my PC and I immediately recognized the change of Outlook\’s icon color from yellow to blue. I thought there has to be a reason for that change. Several weeks ago I had no clue what it meant but now its obvious. Outlook is the new free webmail service replacing Hotmail. I think for branding reasons Microsoft had to change the traditional yellow color of Outlook to blue so that it would be more recognizable in the web.

Gmail has been my number one choice since Google introduced it and I never looked back at Hotmail or Yahoo. Today, I still keep my old Hotmail and Yahoo email addresses for the sake of keeping one.

However after the announcement was made and Outlook.com went live, it is very tempting to take a deeper look at Outlook.com. Microsoft made a very bold move in re-imagining  email from the failed attempts of Live mail and Hotmail brand.

The following are the top features which might give you a reason to dump Gmail for Outlook.com

1. Unlimited Storage Space

Gmail has more than 10GB of storage space and still counting (slowly). On the other hand, Outlook.com has virtually unlimited space. It allocates more space as you demand more space as long as you don\’t fill your inbox too fast or if you don\’t do anything shady.

If you deal with very large email and it is important to you, you will not worry about storage space at all. Outlook.com also has the functionality to manage big email eating up your inbox space. You can easily sort the size in ascending or descending order.

\"Outlook.com

2. Bigger File and Attachment Support

Outlook can support up to 100Mb attachment and if you link your account to SkyDrive it is upgraded to 300Mb file size limit. In contrast, Gmail only supports 25Mb. This is not a problem if you use Google Drive or Dropbox but the tight integration with SkyDrive gives Outlook.com easier sharing  of big files.

3. Email Alias

Hotmail email alias had been around for some time but Yahoo had this feature for the longest time I could remember.

It is a very helpful in giving a disposable email address. What is unique in Outlook.com is the functionality to completely change your email address and/or username. If you are switching from Hotmail.com email address, Outlook.com automatically creates an alias to forward incoming emails from your old Hotmail.com email address.

\"Outlook.com

4. Quick Views

Gmail has labels which essentially works like folders but unlike folders, you can put different labels on your emails with Gmail.

With Outlook.com, Microsoft is not throwing away folders but this time they are introducing Quick Views. With Quick Views Outlook.com can automatically detect newsletter, social updates, bills, and other content categories automatically so that you can organize and clean up your inbox faster.

If you want to view every pictures sent to you, you can just go to Photos category and Outlook.com will show all emails with pictures. You also get to preview and browse all the pictures in a slideshow. Same with documents. If you wish to get only the emails with attached documents, spreadsheet or slide presentation then you can go to Documents category and access your documents right away.

You can go to where you want faster in fewer clicks. For me, Quick View is  smarter than Gmail\’s priority inbox. It is more flexible and you can always create your own category depending on the rules you create. Think Quick Views like smart Libraries in Windows.

For power users Gmail is still more flexible in tailoring your own filter rules but for an average joe, Outlook.com gives powerful options that anyone can easily understand.

5. Sweep

This one-click clean up scheduling gives you a  convenient way to delete emails from  someone or move/archive all emails from one folder to another.

You can even set the age of the email that you wish to delete or move.

\"Outlook.com

This feature was inspired by Office Outlook; Added in Hotmail way back in 2010 and then carried forward in Outlook.com. Gmail has no equivalent feature to automate deletion of emails that you do not want to keep.

6. Recover Deleted Email

Outlook.com can recover deleted messages even if you have permanently emptied deleted email folder. Outlook.com will recover as much as it can recover and it is very useful when you accidentally deleted an email permanently. I know how stupid it sounds but it happens.

What I am not sure is how long Microsoft stores deleted emails. I am guessing there is a threshold on how long they keep deleted emails. However, there is a privacy setting to disable this feature if you are worried about Microsoft keeping your deleted emails.

7. Privacy

Speaking of privacy, Microsoft claims that they never scan email content. For some people this is great advantage over Gmail.

Also, there is no annoying ads in Outlook.com right now but that doesn\’t mean it won\’t have in the future.

What\’s interesting is that Outlook.com does not keep history of your instant messages by default. Compare this to Google and Yahoo — both companies keep instant messages record by default.

Microsoft\’s  selling point here is that you are in control of your data when you use Outlook.com. Let\’s hope so.

8. Office Suite Integration

Outlook.com comes with the online version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Not to mention it comes with SkyDrive integration as well. If you were able to test SkyDrive during its beta period you might have enjoyed the permanent 25Gb storage upgrade for free so it\’s great for storing your documents online.

The advantage of Office web apps over  Google Docs is still debatable. On one hand, Google Docs is a departure from the usual document editing that we go used to. However, Office web apps are trying to incorporate the same web elements in its Office web apps suite, for free! You got to love Google and Microsoft competition.

I like both Google Docs and Offices web apps so Gmail vs. Outlook.com is not as easy as choosing between apple vs. orange.

Of course, for people who use Office suite exclusively Office web apps is a no-brainer.

9. Social Integration

Get updates and connect with your friends right from your inbox. You can chat with your Facebook friends not to mention you can also link Twitter and LinkedIn. It\’s like having a simpler version of Rapportive built inside Outlook.com. It totally rocks!

Later on, Microsoft will also integrate Skype which is like de-facto standard for online voice and video calls. I\’m sure that it will drive a lot of interest, too, but Microsoft is yet to show us how it will be done.

Gmail is only integrated with Google+ and Hang out is a unique feature only found in Google+. Still, Social integration in Outlook.com is one step higher. You get multiple social network support which is much-needed by social media enthusiasts.

10. Refreshing Design and Mobile Experience

For me, the most important reason why you should take a look at Outlook.com is the refreshing design concept and modern look. Microsoft has made a very  clean user interface — in fact much cleaner than Gmail in my opinion. There is no menu for other Microsoft services but it is integrated deeply with other services.

The UI is responsive and the Windows 8 inspired design speaks for itself. The design is also optimized for mobile devices and shows the dedication of Microsoft in delivering the best mobile experience for users.

To use Outlook.com on your phone or tablet, you can use the instructions from Microsoft.

I have included a short walk-through of Outlook.com — let me know what you think in the comments below.

What\’s your opinion about Gmail vs. Outlook.com?

 

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New YouTube Dashboard Unveiled

This guest post about the new YouTube Dashboard is re-blogged from Paul Wolfe

New YouTube Dashboard

So I was just prepping a tutorial on Playlists for my upcoming course The Content Marketers Video Playbook.  And I noticed this in my Video Manager:

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So the fact that it had \’New\’ plastered next to it, and the fact that I\’d never heard of a \’Dashboard\’ made me automatically click on it.

Introducing The Dashboard

So here\’s what the dashboard looks like:

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So what you get is a convenient page where you can:

  • check out your Video views
  • check out your latest comments and answer them
  • check out your latest analytics
  • plus the What\’s New section tells you about new features and the like.

So if you\’re a YouTube kind of a guy or gal, then go to your video dashboard and check out your new Dashboard!

YouTube Is Constantly Updating Its Look And Features

Youtube is constantly changing things up – it\’s changed more in the last 6 months than the previous 6 years.  (OK, maybe that\’s a little exaggeration, but you get the point).

I\’ll be keeping you updated on all that\’s new with the \’Toob as soon as I see it!


\"Paul

Paul Wolfe

Content Marketing. Blogging. Writing. eBooks. Deliberate Practice. Video Marketing.

Twitter: Paul_Wolfe

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iGoogle Alternatives – Find a New Start Page Before Google Shutdowns iGoogle in 2013

It\’s a sad day for iGooglers because Google is going to axe iGoogle in November 1, 2013. Google gave  iGooglers 16 months to move on and find a new start page. There are only few worthy iGoogle alternatives left in 2012 unlike 5 years ago.

\"iGoogle\"

I still remember between 2005 and 2007 — these AJAX start pages keep on popping up like wild mushrooms and I know there will come a point that the bubble will burst. The decline seemed gradual as more mobile devices replaced desktop.

Google wants to focus on Chrome and Android platform in giving personalized information or dashboard and I agree with Google that today\’s web and mobile apps gives you more personalized real-time information at your fingertips and you don\’t need to look at your start page most of the time, or it totally replaced the need for start pages or home pages. This is the reason I predominantly use Android — widgets.  However, for the majority who are still using desktop as their primary tool in getting things done, there is still room for iGoogle alternatives.

iGoogle Alternatives

The following are some  iGoogle Alternatives that is worth reviewing if you are coming from iGoogle.

Netvibes

\"iGoogle

From (re)mix everything to dashboard everything, Netvibes remains my number favorite in start page / personal dashboard website. In fact I have been using Netvibes since 2005 and it remains my top choice in this category.

There are many things that make Netvibes unique from all other start pages because it supports  premium features for dashboard intelligence. It gives you tools for collaboration, curation, sentiments analysis and analytics. I think they coined the term \”dashboard intelligence\”  to position their service along business intelligence. With real-time monitoring it can be used for brand monitoring, e-reputation management, product marketing, community portals and just about everything where you want to use dashboard.

Protopage

\"iGoogle

Protopage is a decent iGoogle alternative based in London, UK. It still has a beta feel to it even though it\’s about 7 years old now. You can say that it has survived the test of time and still thriving.

If you are looking for widgets and feed aggregation, Protopage got it all.

MyYahoo

\"MyYahoo

MyYahoo is the only remaining portal/start page coming from a major media and internet company. Microsoft already closed Live (my.live.com) way back in March 2010. iGoogle will follow soon in November 2013. If you are using Yahoo services, it is still a great alternative to iGoogle but you are limited with Yahoo services  only.

Some of the lesser known alternatives are symbaloo.cominbox.comkiiosk.com24eyes.comwebwag.com and nowsy.com

The Start Pages Deadpool

Wonder what happened to other start pages? They are dead.

  • Eskobo
  • Goowy
  • Live (my.live.com)
  • Pageflakes
  • Zoozio

Pageflakes is one of the promising competitor out there but due to several outages, lagging behind competition and stale product development, it was discontinued on January 2012.

I am sure more AJAX start pages will join the graveyard soon but iGoogle will join the party sooner.

Opinion

I think iGoogle should have been transformed into a new product or service. With the explosion of big data and the increase number of new media, there is still a need for a place or dashboard to aggregate these pieces and chunk of information. By filtering the noise and giving options customization it could serve as a personal dashboard.

Maybe Google has a bigger plan. Who knows?

What\’s your thought about this? Is start pages and personal dashboard dead?

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Integrate Your Cloud Apps in One Activity Stream with Hojoki

Hojoki Review

\"Hojoki\"

I have used Hojoki during its private beta period but now it\’s already in public beta so you can sign up and try it yourself. My first reaction is that it has a weird name. Well… not really, I know its Japanese but I learned more about on Hojoki\’s about page. The name originated from a popular Japanese book which revolutionized how people thought about the flow of life way back in 1212. Hojoki aims to revolutionize how people think about the flow of work.

Take note that Hojoki is still work in progress. When I was testing it, some of the features are not yet perfect. For example, some of the connections to 3rd party apps may not work. This is expected because it is still in beta but quality of apps integration should be better after beta. Due to a number of API Hojoki has to support I can\’t imagine how they are going to keep all those apps working 100%.

You can experiment on how you may use it. On my experience, Hojoki could be a great tool to aggregate all your online content (like a back-up) where you can search your tweets, bookmarks and files in one place. If you have a team of bloggers working on an article, setting up a Workplace where you can share references could be a better way to collaborate on real-time.

Think Hojoki as a FriendFeed for your cloud apps and you can imagine fun ways to use it.

Hojoki Features

\"Hojoki
Hojoki make all your cloud apps work as one and by that it means that you get one fee of all your productivity apps and other social apps. It gives you a central hub to see what\’s happening on these apps so you could monitor everything in one place. It saves you time by eliminating the need to manage different tabs. You can create several workplaces where you can discuss everything happening on that workplace. For example, a developer workplace may include Pivotal Tracker, Github and Basecamp. If you are managing a project, you can easily glance on the activity streams and get a general idea on what\’s happening with the development without looking at different web apps. In a way, you get to monitor all their activities without even spying them.

Business owners can also use Hojoki to discuss work and manage files to keep your team members well-informed. A business workplace in Hojoki would likely have Google Drive for online documents, Dropbox for file-sharing , Ta-da Lists for to-do or task management, and Google Calendar for event scheduling. These are just a few examples of different apps that you can connect in Hojoki that you integrate to work as one.

Furthermore, Hojoki can give you updates. Several apps provide direct link to shared content. You can see who shared it, what was shared and when. I\’m not sure if Hojoki will also support location-based services in the future to support where.

Collaboration is made possible on the activity streams. You can assign an application to a workspace and you can further define what can be shared to these workspaces. For example, you can define a shared folder for Dropbox that you wish to share to your Hojoki workspace. Only the updates on your shared folder will appear on that workspace. When you add files on your private folders, they will not appear in Hojoki.

Tagging and mentions are also supported; You can use them to filter content and drill down to specific items.

Supported Apps

\"Hojoki

At the moment there are 20 supported apps in Hojoki:

  • Basecamp
  • Basecamp classic
  • Beanstalk
  • Box
  • CloudApp
  • Delicious
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Github
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Contacts
  • Google Drive and Docs
  • Google Reader
  • Highrise
  • Mendeley
  • Pivotal Tracker
  • Ta-da Lists
  • Twitter
  • Zendesk

And to make it better, future support for these web apps are planned:

  • Lighthouse
  • Skydrive
  • Trello
  • Yammer

Mobile Apps

Hojoki is also available in iOS and Android.

Martin Böhringer, Co-Founder & CEO of Hojoki, shared in Quora that the mobile apps reuses parts of the web app which are entirely built using JavaScript and HTML5 code then they use Trigger.io to convert them into native iOS and Android apps.

As you can see, both iOS and Android version are virtually the same.

I find the mobile app quite limited in functionality. You can only refresh the activity streams, connect apps and reply the shared items but you can\’t search. It\’s great for knowing what is happening and reply to current updates but you can\’t do much with the mobile app now. I hope they include more features found in the web app to the mobile app.

 

Hojoki Alternatives / Competition

Cloud aggregation is getting momentum because there are so many things you can on the web and keeping your files in one place is almost impossible to do now that we are almost living in the cloud. It only takes another app to make all these data source connected and linked together to make it more manageable.

Hojoki is doing something more than just aggregating data. It is giving users a new way to work with cloud apps but several apps like busyflow.com and 300.mg are doing almost the same thing. So far Hojoki is leading with the most number of supported applications and appears to be the most popular.

Final Thoughts

In summary, I would like to see more up-coming cloud apps to be integrated with Hojoki. I fancy that Hojoki would support moving or copying files from one source to another but Hojoki can only \”broadcast\” activities now. You can\’t manage the files that you are working on connected cloud apps yet.  Some services actually do this already so the talented team in Hojoki might as well do the same in the future. It seems that the focus now is to support more web apps. If they plan to add more  management features, it could be a killer-app for everyone.

It\’s good to know that Hojoki will always have a free version. I hope the freemium business model  will work for them and I look forward to see better ways to manage cloud apps using services like Hojoki.

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Google Bar Back to Black, Still Not Customizable

Google bar, also known as \”sandbar\”, is the navigation bar that links Google services on top of most Google products. It has undergone several transformation for the last few months which supposed to give users better experience.

I have posted about Google black navigation bar before and how to customize it, as well as the Google menu that was supposed to replace the black Google bar. Then, few weeks ago, Google decided to update Google bar yet again and now it looks like a hybrid of the previous black Google bar and the defunct Google menu. If you didn\’t get the Google menu you probably won\’t notice the difference.

\"old

\"new

What was retained from the Google menu design is the separate area for name, notification count, G+ share button and profile picture. In the old black bar design, these UI elements are fused with the black menu bar.

The new Google bar has more Google products listed but it is still not configurable, for the nth time.

Also, one of my favorite link  (Google Reader) is not listed. I think in general people don\’t really use it but for me it is essential. Why should I need to click More to access it? I\’m sure Google has data to identify which menu you are using and which ones you don\’t click at all.

What I can do at the moment is install this extension in Chrome so that Google Reader will appear on the top links.

I\’m not sure if the old extensions for the black Google bar still works. I think I learned how to live with the new Google bar.

Seriously, I am not sure why Google is still not offering some degree of customization on Google bar.

 

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