by Michelle Lentz
Xobni is inbox backwards. That’s a great name, considering that Xobni completely flips around the way you use Outlook.
The point of Xobni is that we’re using email the way we were twenty years ago. There are a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s still organizing your email in the same way. There’s a reason we’re all using Gmail. Threaded conversations, email in context, makes sense. That’s just one thing Xobni offers.
Xobni also offers a powerful email search feature and can instantly find those attachments you’re looking for. In addition, it can create a scheduling email for you (“I’m available x, x, and x.”) with the click of a button.
Xobni creates a profile for everyone in your inbox. What I think is amazingly cool is the way it analyzes when you get emails from a person, letting you know the best time to reach them – such as morning or afternoon. If it were analyzing me, it would tell you I’m still in bed until 9 am.
It also displays the “hidden social network in email.” What on earth? It determines relationships based on who copies whom on a message, and how often people exchange messages. A Xobni profile displays the person’s relationships, your last few exchanges (conversations), and any files exchanged recently.
I like that I can minimize Xobni into a small vertical bar until I need it. On my laptop, every inch of screen is valuable real estate, so I don’t like to waste it. The email analytics feature, accessible from the the Xobni menu option on the toolbar, shows some interesting information. For instance, I receive the majority of my email between 10 am and noon each day.
Of course, there are some key features I think are still missing (but that I hope are coming soon). For instance, I have come to rely heavily on Outlook, including the Tasks and the Calendar. Those sync with Plaxo and my iPhone, so that I have that information always accessible. I would love for that information to be on one of the sliding Xobni screens. Apparently there was a similar Organizer tab, but it has been removed. (Please bring it back!) Xobni wants to “do one thing, and do one thing well.” In this case, that’s email.
I would also love for my Xobni contacts to pull more information from my Outlook contacts. Right now, that information seems to be separate, and it seems silly to me to have two sets of contacts. It took me forever to amass my current contact list. Xobni is focusing on email, so its pulling information “automagically” from your email – from signatures and text, which is pretty cool. It pulls photos and phone numbers from your Outlook contacts, but I’d love to have a deeper integration.
It’s worth remembering that Xobni just came out of private beta. It’s not perfect yet and the development team is excited and continuing to improve upon the product. It sounds like Outlook is just the beginning, and they intend on developing versions for Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and other mail applications (might I suggest Entourage for the Mac?). As with any beta, there are things it is missing, but also some great features. It’s also a free download, and it will remain free. You’re getting a lot of application for free with Xobni.
Download here. Great informational video here.
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