‘Big Mail’ continues the endless fight to make email better

'The Not So Big Company' opened up its beta registration for their new email app called Big Mail. They are the latest company attempting to fix how we experience email.

Big Mail Conversations Scene

Email was created decades ago and has changed very little since then. Even with modern social networks and messaging apps, email continues to be the most commonly used method of communication on the internet. It’s even considered the best way to market, beating out display ads and other digital marketing tactics.

Email has proven its staying power, but many companies are determined to reshape it into something better.

Fastmail has poured its resources into making email more modern. They created an open standard called JMAP, which is intended to build upon and replace IMAP. They’ve also leveraged email to create a hybrid group messaging service for teams called TopicBox. But the core of everything they’ve done is based on email.

Other companies have focused on reimagining how we use email. Google released Gmail in 2004 and gave people a glimpse of how email could be updated. Since then, software developers have been trying to rethink how we use email.

Some of the earliest and most successful attempts came from Sparrow and Dropbox Mailbox. Both are now gone, but they introduced design patterns added to the most widely used email apps today, including Apple Mail and Gmail.

Google even tried, yet again, to reinvent email with Inbox by Gmail, but that flopped and was shut down. Several email apps were successful, though, including Spark, Airmail, and MailPlane. However, none of them have had overwhelming success, and email has remained relatively the same.

In June 2020, Basecamp launched HEY. HEY claims on their site that they fixed email, and I’ll admit, they did create a novel way to filter, view, and manage messages. I’ve used it, and it’s quite nice, but it uses proprietary software, making it impossible to use other email clients. That type of lock-in made it a no go for me.

Introducing Big Mail

The newest software to take on email is called Big Mail. Like HEY, it reimagines the experience of using email. The best way to describe Big Mail is that it looks like someone mashed together HEY, Inbox by Gmail, the Cards View of Feedly, Apple Reminders’ sidebar, and parts of the App Store. While that may sound horrible, it looks good, and the layouts for different views are intriguing.

Big Mail for iPadOS
Big Mail for iPadOS

Big Mail calls its unique email views Scenes, and there will be six of them at launch.

  1. Conversations
  2. Newsletters
  3. Purchases
  4. Notifications
  5. Events
  6. Files

The app automatically sorts and routes which messages should be associated with a particular Scene. For example, email newsletters are associated with the Newsletter Scene. The Scene’s display is optimized by hiding the reply button and other messages, and the email newsletter is presented in full-screen mode.

Big Mail Newsletter Scene
Big Mail Newsletter Scene that displays email newsletter in full-screen view

The Purchases Scene organizes receipts, keeps track of the total amount for each transactions, and reports how much you’ve spent for the month.

Big Mail Purchases Scene
Big Mail Purchases Scene keeps track of how much you spend each month

Big Mail also claims to be private and secure compared to other email apps and services. All of the message processing is done locally on the user’s device, and they never see any of your messages.

Beta registration is now open, and they plan to release it in early 2021.

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Jon is the founder and Managing Editor of Coywolf. He has over 25 years of experience in web development, SaaS, internet strategy, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. Follow @henshaw