AOL has announced a new webmail client called Alto, and it promises a way to help organize the hordes of emails most of us are unable to properly cull from our inboxes.
AOL knows people don't want another email address, so Alto provides email management for existing accounts using the more visual representation of message stacks, an organizing method akin to folders.
Stacks and Stacks of Clutter
Alto, which is available by invitation only at the moment, automatically sorts incoming emails from businesses, daily deals and social media notifications into Stacks, so more productive emails can be seen and handled first, and the rest can be sorted through later. It works with any Web-based email like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and .Mac addresses. Hotmail doesn't work yet (no IMAP feed). Stacks can be personalized, so emails from a particular person or with a particular keyword can also get filtered.
Additionally, messages with attachments and images get sorted into stacks and can be viewed in one of three, more visual ways: Message View, Tile and Page View.
Tile view is a good way to sort through things like daily deals. Emails appear on the left side, and on the right is the workspace (for stacks).
To create a stack, simply drag an email from the left side of the screen into the workspace on the right. That automatically creates a stack, and all future emails from that contact are routed there. The level of control from here goes even deeper -- for example, if all emails from your boss are put into one stack, it's easy to separate the ones having to do with your main project that week. That way, only the project-related emails from the boss are in the inbox -- the rest are in the stack.
Snooze (Read it Later)
We also like the Snooze feature that allows already-viewed emails to be reposted at the top of the inbox at a predetermined time. We use the Mark as Unread feature regularly, and Snooze is even better. If you don't read a message when it's reposted, you can snooze it for later on.
Searching messages also works pretty well in Alto. Since you'll likely be using it to manage more than one account, the search feature goes through all of your email accounts. The search tool even divides the results into messages, contact cards, and photos related to what you are looking for. Also included are buttons for access to Google Calender and Google Drive.
Alto works with any Web-based email like Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and .Mac addresses. Hotmail doesn't work yet (no IMAP feed).
Although AOL says threaded messages will be included, they aren't now, and that's a definite minus in our book -- it's a great feature in Gmail. We like the simplified view Alto provides, and there are no ads like in Yahoo or Hotmail. Alto will be available for free starting in 2013.
Tell us in the comments if you use a webmail client to manage your emails and if you think AOL can once more become relevant with Alto.