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I’ve written for years about my hopes for a ‘social email’ tool — one in which email threads could be
- 1. shared between coworkers,
- 2. discussed in chat threads,
- 3. responded to at will by one or more of the group members.
Some of the tools that I have looked at as possible social email solutions over the years have been interesting, but none have become a breakthrough, or even useful enough for me to adopt. (See Social email ranges from cool to creepy , Nimble fails as social email, and IBM’s Mail Next looks like the first social email, for a sampling.)
However, companies still are innovating around email. Established internet giants like Microsoft and Google continue to innovate with Office 365 and Google Inbox, respectively. And there are a steady stream of innovators who take another run at trying to get the balance of email and social right.
One new entrant is Missive (www.missiveapp.com), that is trying to build an answer to the three points I made above. At present, the solution only works with Gmail and Google Apps, but it’s not hard to imagine versions for other email providers.
Here’s the Missive UI, with Gmail labels at the top right, like inbox, starred, etc. Below on the right are chats. Emails can be replied to — as Rafael has done below — or just commented on by those sharing access:
Here’s a screenshot showing an email being 1/ coedited by two contributors (note the two avatars in the upper right of the email), and 2/ commented on by an even larger group (as shown in the comment thread on the right):
The tool provides a general chat capability, as well, independently of emails.
What I thought would be missing was the integration I rely on between Todoist and Gmail. Said a different way, I would need an equivalent capability — either a native implementation of task management, or a smart integration with leading task management solutions, such as Todoist, Trello, Asana, etc — in order to actually transition to using the tools.
It turns out that the Chrome plug-in for Todoist works just about as well for Missive as it does for Gmail. Here you see an email in the Notes folder (Gmail label):
I click the Todoist icon on the Chrome toolbar, which leads to creating a linked task, referencing back to the email. It works because Missive creates and exposes a unique URL for each email, which the Todoist plug-in grabs and stores, as shown below:
Over in Todoist, I then see the new task in the Personal project tasks.
(Strangely enough, Todoist doesn’t surface the URLs of individual tasks unless you are editing them, but there is still a way — although laborious — to link from the chat session in Missive to the task in Todoist. A better integration — a dedicated Chrome plug-in for Todoist and Missive — could solve that problem, though.)
While this isn’t perfect, it’s good enough. So I am going to give Missive a try for the next week or so, and see what else I can learn from it. More to follow.