Mail.ru launches an email service only accessible from a smartphone

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Looking for a new email address? Russian portal Mail.ru bought the domain name my.com for its international brand in late 2012, and now it’s letting users worldwide sign up for @my.com email addresses. Unlike other email portals, my.com email accounts will only be accessible through the MyMail app, which is available for iOS and Android. There will be no webmail, POP3, or IMAP option.

Instead of using a login and password, MyMail users attach their email to their mobile phone number and receive a text message with an access code when the first time they sign in. This means if you change phone numbers, you also lose access to your email.

MyMail represents an interesting approach to security: it requires a malicious party to have physical access to someone’s phone in order to access their correspondence. With no passwords, phishing attacks won’t work. However, if a user loses a phone, wiping it through Find My iPhone or Android Device Manager will not be enough to protect their email — they will have to cancel their SMS plan, too.

Here’s what the login process looks like:

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At the moment, the MyMail app is a well-designed mobile mail application that can also manage other email accounts, like Gmail or Yahoo. Eventually, the company hopes to make its email service more immediate, almost like text messaging. After all, if you know someone actively uses a my.com email address, you know they recieve it on their mobile device.

If the user has push notifications turned on, there isn’t much difference between an email and a SMS, or even a message from services like WhatsApp or iMessage. One advantage to emailis that because email is an open protocol, you do not have to sign up for your own my.com account to communicate with my.com users. In 2010, Facebook launched a similar, now-defunct program which gave Facebook Messages users an associated @facebook.com email address.

The MyMail account comes with 150GB of cloud storage and you can sign up for an address now. Go claim your namespace.

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