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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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