I have finally made my mind. I am not going to pay for HEY. It is a wonderful service, no doubt. I love it. I just don’t need it.
I have been using HEY for almost two weeks now and since last few days, I have hardly acted on any emails the way the team wants me to. Most emails have been filtered out. Tells me an email as a communication medium is already pretty worthless for me. I can’t pay so much for something that’s worth so little. Here’s my state from yesterday as I responded to an ongoing conversation.
HEY makes my email even more worthless than it already is for me. I hardly see any emails getting filtered through to me. I’m yet to decide if it’s a good thing or a bad one.
I have always been a user of the free Gmail service until now. I have evaluated many email services over the years, but haven’t paid for any. I do not run my livelihood over my personal email. Neither do I receive so many emails that managing them becomes a hassle of any sort. I could just sit down for a few minutes and handle all of them together. I hardly have to triage them — snooze or reply later are all nice features. But I rarely need them.
If all the other emails services failed to pique any interest in me earlier, why did HEY even come so close? Well, because I do see how all the features they tout as game-changing can actually solve the problems many people face with their email. No wonder then that even I want to use all the features. But my current lifestyle just doesn’t have any need for any of those.
But the screening and the feed and the paper trail?
Well, I spent the last couple of hours on Gmail to clean my filters — and with that, I have now got a pretty similar workflow in place with the help of filters and customized priority inbox. Here’s how my inbox looks.
Will I be able to maintain it? No idea. I have managed to sail through for so long. I had no clue about the sheer amount of emails even my current system was already “screening” out. So, I believe I would be fine.
Won’t I love if a system did that for me? Well, sure I would love that. But you see Hey doesn’t want to be that system. Here’s an excerpt from their manifesto.
Email’s better with a human at the helm. That’s you. You’re better at deciding where things go, what your intentions are, and how you want things set up. The machines have a lot of learning to do before they’ll be able to second-guess whether you actually wanted to see that email, whether it was a receipt or a newsletter, and even what you should be writing someone. At HEY, it’s human intelligence over artificial intelligence.
The whole workflow in HEY begins with me screening the first time senders before they arrive at my inbox. Well, nice. However, am ok to take the same decision after it has reached my inbox — I will create a filter. That’s ugly, manual work sure. But it doesn’t cost me $99/year worth of my time.
I have already created labels for feeds and paper trail. And many more. Because you see, my emails don’t just fit in these two categories. I have a lot many more filters. And I have pretty simple rules for each.
- I need this mail in my inbox, unread.
- I need this to skip my inbox, but stay unread. I will get to it.
- I need this to skip my inbox and get marked as read.
- I need this to be deleted.
That’s it. All my filters do just this. I will continue to do so manually. (I do wish though that the Gmail’s Android app allowed creating simple filters in their app.)
And am ok to lose the email address I want?
Well, I’ve currently shared my Gmail address everywhere. Even if I shift to HEY, I have to change the email address registered with many of the services. I think if I am ever to go through all this trouble, it would be for one with my custom domain. In which case, it won’t matter what email address I get on the service.
All in all, HEY is a brilliant service with a fresh perspective towards the way we use our emails. It can potentially enliven the email offerings from all the players, just the away Gmail did back in 2004. But I don’t face the problem it is trying to solve; I have no use for all its groundbreaking features. So, I can in no way justify paying the price it asks for it.
I paused at that last word in the title. I was so close to writing “hooked”. But then I thought have they really sold the promise yet? No doubt, they are close. But, it’s not a done deal yet.
Why is this service so enticing though? I mean it’s just an email service. I don’t even use the email that much. So why do I keep going back to HEY? It has got something to do with their promise. Of making me care even less for the email.
Every now and then I visit the “Screened Out” section to see all the mails I would have seen had I been using any other email app. And it is a mess in there. These emails never get filtered out with my existed setup. I am tired of setting all the filters in Gmail. It just doesn’t work efficiently. Junk emails always end up reaching my inbox.
This hasn’t been the case with HEY. Because they have decided on a sane default – everything screened out if not allowed earlier.
We ask every software to side with “opt-in” for every marginal aspect — something that would split their users on whether they accept it or not. Why can’t expect the same from our email service too?
- I have merged and renamed the threads — I like the cleaner workflow.
- I have set aside the emails and marked them to be handled later. I like the idea.
- I do not like the feed; in its current form, it is almost useless. Is it just there so that I can skim through and ignore?
- I like the paper trail section. I don’t want to see those emails, but want them handy.
- I love sticky notes and notes that we can put on emails. Such a simple, but brilliant idea.
However, with all said, I am conflicted. Do I want the clean experience so bad that I am willing to pay the cost? Do the junk email that I have got into the habit of deleting without a second thought bother me so much that I am willing to pay the cost? Can’t I just manually screen-out the emails?
I have about a week to decide.