I used AOL Mail back in the day when the Internet came on a CD and required me to call up to a loud telephone or something. One of my favorite features was read-receipts and deleting mail after I had sent it…just in case I said something stupid.
I haven’t used it since, but the company thinks that its new overhaul will lure users away from their existing email services, and make the current 24 million monthly active users extremely happy.
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I spoke to David Temkin, Senior VP of Mail and Mobile at AOL, yesterday and he told me what the team had been working on since last December. Temkin told me that “every single pixel has been changed in AOL Mail.”
Here’s a quick look at the new inbox before we dive into all of the new goodies:
Looks pretty slick, no? I wasn’t sure of what the old inbox looked like, so here’s that for reference:
It’s definitely “shiny”
This is the first overhaul of AOL Mail in 5 years. You read that right, 5 years. How a company can go that long without blowing things up now and again completely baffles my brain. The new UI is available to everyone as of today, but approximately 50% of its userbase has been playing around with it as the team has made incremental changes and tweaks.
Here are the other changes of note:
– Ads have been moved and resized to get them out of a way
– Less clutter that should help with email management
– Integrated Facebook chat, along with AIM and SMS
– Mini-Apps that let you do things like manage events and to-do lists
– Customizable backgrounds and themes
When I asked Temkin if he thought that the product was intriguing enough to get users to move from one service to AOL’s, he was quick to respond to the affirmative. There are tools that allow for migrating your email and setting up an autoresponder that would help.
Unfortunately, changing an email address is like changing a phone number, it’s a pain in the ass. It’s unlikely that AOL will see a lot of migrators, but the folks that do enjoy reading their email within an AOL property will surely be delighted.
Sorry AOL, I’m sticking with GMail. Thanks for all of the coasters, though!