There’s a new communication service in town that is designed to make email and instant messaging more interconnected.
Since the world has become a more digitally connected it has changed the way people communicate. Although some communication channels, such as video and voice chat tend to be favoured by developers over instant messaging (IM), which often leaves the text-based function as an afterthought -- even though it is still widely used. Depending on the IM service, user problems include being unable to add people who don't have an account to conversations.
Email also has its problems, as it hasn’t changed much since being created. One of the most common email problems is missing important messages due to replies getting lost in the conversation thread.
Fleep is a new app from a group of former Skype Engineers that aims to combine these two services to form an email-IM hybrid.
Fleep which is operating under the motto of “Respect for Conversations that Matter,” is extremely easy to use. After clicking on the "create new" button to create a conversation, a person can add contacts to the chat thread. These can include Fleep members and non-members. The non-Fleep participants can be part of conversation via email. They can reply and attach files much like they do with a regular email, but can’t join the actual conversation thread.
Along with each conversation having its own name, Fleep users can also send files, pin and quote individual messages and opt out of notifications and leave the conversation when it is no longer relevant. Fleep's designers have also added a search function, which is much like the Facebook Inbox search in that it looks for specific keywords within all of a user’s conversations.
Users can also choose to receive a summary of the conversations they’re involved in if they are away from Fleep for more than a day.
While there might be some security concerns surrounding Fleep since messages can be sent outside of a chat thread, the company assures its users that their information is safe. On its Frequently Asked Questions page it is stated that that Fleep has a SSL encryption with Perfect Forward Secrecy between the user and its servers and that servers are hosted in Amazon EC2 data centers.
Skype's Faults are Fleep's Gain
Another reason behind the creation of Fleep is the mentioned connection to Skype. Despite being around for 10 years and making strides in communication, Skype has a lot of minor problems with its chat function that the company tried to ignore.
There were four of us working at Skype where its own instant messenger was the company’s main internal communication tool. The company’s development focus, however, was on voice and video calling. Chat was not a priority," from Fleep's website.
These problems included the IM ones mentioned, along with the inability to leave offline messages, the lack of a file sharing function, the lack of a search function and the inability to sync messages across multiple devices.
These developers realized that this had to change and their idea became Fleep.
A Potential Competitor
While there are a variety of services out there that are designed to improve communication such Yammer and Mailbox which recently combined with Dropbox, few have tried to combine email features with instant messaging. This is why many feel that Fleep has potential, but are waiting to give their opinion on it as a service and as a Skype competitor until it’s been more thoroughly used by the public.
Others feel that this potential is based around the Fleep development team and their expertise in the communication service field.
It’s not like this [the idea behind Fleep] is virgin territory, but the initial product is impressively clean in design and promising on the feature side,” wrote David Meyer, “Also, the team definitely has the right heritage -- the founders include four ex-Skypers plus a Techstars grad and someone who used to do operations for Fujitsu.”
A free service, Fleep is currently only available in beta, with a full launch expected in 2014. It is also only available in a web-based format and as an iOS app, but there are plans to release an Android app.
Have you tried Fleep? What are your thoughts?