If you seem to spend far too much of your life dealing with email, maybe Shortmail is the solution you’ve been waiting for. This new messaging service limits you to emails of just 500 characters – enough for about five sentences – and throws in social features for good measure.
Signing in is a quick process via your Twitter account and then you’re set up with an email address and ready to go. You’ll soon find that you’re not only restricted to sending 500 character emails, but receiving too. If anyone tries to send a message to your Shortmail account that’s over 500 characters it will get rejected and the sender will receive a reply asking them to send a shorter version. For anyone who wants to get through their inbox quickly, this could be something close to bliss.
That’s only half of Shortmail though – you can also use it to send public messages. Use this option and you’ll start a public conversation with the recipients. This means you could have an email-based conversation that is publicly accessible by anyone who wants to read it. It’s certainly not the way most people would think to use email but it could certainly find its purpose if the idea takes off.
Regardless of whether you use the public option or not, it’s clear that Shortmail is working hard to transform email into something new, and I like it. You can access your account either from the website or from an email client via IMAP and POP3, sending via SMTP, and you can even import contacts from Gmail and Twitter. It’s still a little barebones, and it probably won’t replace your primary email account (attachments are banned, for example) but the Maryland, USA, based developers 410 Labs promise to add more to the product over time.
I’m not quite ready to start only accepting news story pitches via Shortmail, but it’s certainly an idea for the future. If you’re similarly frustrated by email as it is today, Shortmail could be a glimpse at a brighter tomorrow.