.Mail recap

Designer Tobias van Schneider posted a really interesting post-mortem reflection on his ".Mail" email client project.

I remember seeing his concepts for the app back in 2010 or so, and they were really brilliant. You can see a lot of ideas in there that have become standard in modern email clients: swiping for actions, simplified account sidebar, avatars/social integration, and lovely minimalist type treatments. His case study/pitch was the first place I’d seen them; I can’t say for sure he invented those UI patterns, but they certainly weren’t common before. As a product it may have failed to launch, but as a piece of UI design it was really influential.

This was also shortly before Sparrow got acquired by Google and then killed, and I remember desperately hoping .Mail would take off so the world 1 would once more have a usable email client. I signed up for the email list and checked the case study occasionally, hoping to see an Available now! callout appear there.

But, sadly, email protocols and APIs are a horrible quagmire of sadness and despair and knashing of teeth, and it was not to be. But many of van Schneider’s ideas were picked up/stolen/borrowed by Dropbox, Spark, Polymail, etc., and we now have at least a few pretty damn good email clients, perhaps with .Mail to thank for it.

Also, Tobias van Schneider has perhaps the most amazing beard in the design industry.

  1. Okay, by "world" I mean "me."