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New Shortmail for iOS: Our Best Work Yet?

As a startup company with a small team, you can move faster than a big company — but it also means you have to make choices about when things get done and where to put your attention.

So sometimes it can take a little bit of time to synchronize features across the front-end and back-end of a product. But when all of those efforts come together, it’s often very special.

The latest version of our Shortmail iOS App (1.5.0) represents such a convergence — of multiple efforts to move messaging forward, and we’re super-proud of what we’ve done here.

Here’s a quick tour.

Work Offline

Shortmail is about improving relationships by making communication easier. Many of us spend time traveling — on and off airplanes, in and out of subways, and in and out of network coverage.

Most mobile messaging apps don’t work well at all if network connectivity isn’t available (actually, they kind of freak out). We realized that this was an area where Shortmail could excel.

So Shortmail for iOS now has two standard modes of operation: online and offline. When you’re online, everything happens right away. You can receive new messages and send in real-time. But if you’re offline (think international flight, with 30 replies to send) you can queue up all your replies while in flight, and then seamlessly sync up when you land.

Not only are your replies synced up, but every operation you perform while offline is queued and synced to the server. We persist everything to your device’s local data store, so you don’t have to worry about losing your work.

Just load the app when you get back to a network and you’re set!

Let’s Chill…

Often, you want to clear something out of your inbox, but it would be great to get a reminder to return to it later. With Chill you can put something on ice until a date that you specify. And it couldn’t be easier.

Click Chill Until… and then select a date when you’d like the conversation returned to your inbox. And it will be archived until that date. Out of sight, out of mind — until you’re ready for it to return!

“Seen By” — Who’s Seen Each Message?

One of the advantages of Shortmail is that we track when each message has been seen by each person in a conversation.

And on our latest iOS app, you can see this information really simply: just slide an individual message to the right to reveal when each person saw each post. So the next time you’re wondering why someone hasn’t replied, you can at least see when (or if) they have seen your post. More information, simply presented.

Also, you’ll notice that each message you send to others has a small triangle in the lower right corner. If it’s filled in gray, it’s been seen by all recipients. If it’s only partially filled in, not everyone has seen it yet. So you can quickly eyeball a conversation to get a sense of whether a message has made the rounds yet.

Robust Search

We know that most people use messaging as a kind of “brain backup,” and while we’ve had local search capabilities in Shortmail for iOS since the beginning, we wanted it to be more robust.

Now you can search for anything in Shortmail, and if it’s not available locally, you can continue the search on the server — with fast results!

And there’s more…

There are actually a couple of additional features in this latest release which we’ll be talking about more in the next few days, so stay tuned. In the meantime, we would love to hear your feedback about this latest iOS release.

Among other things, we’ve worked really hard to make the app robust (doggedly hunting down memory leaks and other sources of crashes) to make for a rock-solid experience. We also made public and open conversations more visible and easier to use.

I’m David Troy, CEO of 410 Labs and Product Manager for our iOS application. Send me a Shortmail and let me know how you think we can make Shortmail better and more useful!

Shortmail for iOS Version 1.5.0

Shortmail for iOS Is Here!

This is an exciting day for the Shortmail team! Since this summer, we’ve been working on creating a new Shortmail experience: Shortmail for iOS. It ships today, and we’re excited for you to try it and see what you think.

With the Shortmail app, we really feel like we’ve created something entirely new, and we are just getting started. Here are some of the app highlights:

  • Instantly converts Twitter accounts into Shortmail accounts. Using the Twitter integration in iOS 5 (which is required), we instantly convert your Twitter accounts into Shortmail accounts. No hassle, no signups, no passwords. It “just works.”
  • New messages delivered instantly – via push notification! Get instant, SMS-like notification of new Shortmails — no IMAP, no special configuration required. With Shortmail, email has a “first class” push mechanism, directly to you.
  • View conversations, not messages. Conventional mobile email clients show you individual messages – out of context. Shortmail is all about communicating with people and puts each new message in its proper place. More like text messaging, less like email – still compatible with any email address!
  • Support for multiple accounts. Having multiple Shortmail accounts is easy. Just add a new Twitter account and it’s automatically added to Shortmail!
  • More signal, less noise. Shortmail’s 500 character limit is long enough to express a complex idea, but short enough to ensure concise, clear communication.
We’re thrilled to be able to share this with you, and we have a lot more coming soon. We think you’ll be amazed how Shortmail for iPhone transforms your communications into something totally new.
And of course, we want to hear your feedback. Please let us know what you think. We have a lot more yet to come and we welcome your suggestions, questions, and ideas!

Bonjour to our Friends at Sparrow!

Today, we announced a partnership with our friends at Paris-based Sparrow, the simple and beautifully-designed mail client for Mac OS X.

Shortmail is all about simplicity, and so is Sparrow. So it seemed like a natural partnership to us.

To get started with Sparrow and Shortmail, all you need is Sparrow for Mac (in the App Store) along with a Shortmail account (any Twitter user can claim their free account at  Shortmail.com).

When you setup your Shortmail account, go to Account, Advanced on shortmail.com and set an IMAP password.

From there, just load up Sparrow and go to Preferences, Accounts. Add a new account (click the +), enter your full Shortmail email address and your IMAP password and you’re good to go. Let us know what you think!

We’re excited to be working with the good folks at Sparrow to make email better, simpler, and more beautiful!