Yahoo! Mail Beta Review
For the first time since 2007, Yahoo! Mail now has a new version. You can try it out by following this link:
If that doesn’t work, go to http://features.mail.yahoo.com/ and click the “Try it Now” button.
Short review of the new Y! Mail Beta
Rough and needs work.
Long Review of the new Y! Mail Beta
This mail UI is one of those things that looks nice when you first use it, but then in practical application will drive you up a wall. The only reason I don’t call this outright awful is because it’s a beta, only a few days old and will be tweaked by the Y! Mail team over the next few weeks/months/etc. With that said, here we go:
Bad: It’s purple. Very purple.
Purple is a Yahoo! corporate color. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say most people are going to hate the fact you cannot change the color of the interface. Purple is all you get, and a lot of it.
Good: Folders are easier to manage.
On the left sidebar where the folders are, it’s now much easier to manage them. A “+” button is definitely better for when you want to add a folder. Right-clicking allows you to rename/delete/mark all read and a few other things.
Bad: ‘Check mail’ button is gone and replaced with “refresh” icon.
Looking for a ‘check mail’ button? That’s changed to this:
It is a perk that one button now checks both your primary Y! Mail and any other POP accounts you have configured per that account, but the problem here is that if I didn’t tell you what this button did, it’s most likely true you never would have guessed it was a check-mail button; it looks way too much like a browser-refresh button.
Good: Preview pane can now be directly toggled via a button.
This feature was buried before unless you knew you could press V on your keyboard to toggle it (which still works by the way.)
Bad: TABS ARE IN ALL CAPS
What the hell is the deal with this? I don’t want my email SHOUTING AT ME. C’mon, Yahoo.. seriously.
Good: Online contacts actually show avatars now.
This is something all webmail that has an instant messaging service should do. It makes for seeing specific contacts much easier.
Bad: Yahoo! Calendar, where are you?
No link to Y! Calendar anywhere. And you cannot add it from Applications either. It’s just gone. You have to manually go to http://calendar.yahoo.com just to get to it.
Good: Mail search is greatly improved.
This is something that needed a serious overhaul and Y! Mail Beta delivers here. I personally think it’s the best part of the new mail system.
Firstly, email search is much easier to get to and has a nice long box now:
Secondly, search terms are better highlighted (they were highlighted before but this looks better):
Third, and most important, the “refinements” on the left sidebar are really, really nice to use and genuinely helpful:
Icons are done in fine style here. Very nice touch. And they work well.
Bad: No option to view the size of any email.
The feature is simply gone. Needs to come back.
Good: Instant message conversations show up as little in-UI windows.
That IM-as-tab thing never really grew on me, but this does.
They look like this:
…and can even be minimized in the mail UI:
One wonders however if a new IM “window” will plop right in front of your face while typing an email. Hopefully they don’t.
Bad: Plain text font not recognized for plain text emails.
Set it however you like, it will still always show up as sans-serif.
Good: Availability for IM moved to top left.
This is something I totally agree with. Webmail for whatever reason always puts your chat availability in some out-of-the-way places that’s difficult to get to. Y! is the first I’ve seen that puts it exactly where it would be in an instant messenger client – on top left where it’s supposed to be.
Bad: Flag button changed to a non-descript triangle.
Whoever thought this was a good idea should be tarred and feathered. Flag means “flag” and not “triangle.” The previous image of a flag was just fine and made perfect sense. The triangle does not. It may look sorta/kinda like a flag, but not really.
Way too rough around the edges for prime time. Looks nice (if you like purple) and operates fairly well, but in practical application it looks unfinished and feels unfinished. In other words, you definitely know it’s a beta.
For you Y! Mail users out there, I strongly suggest trying it out anyway. You can always switch back via “Help” at top left of the screen. When you do you’re presented with a feedback form. Send lots of feedback. Tons. Be very wordy and descriptive. This is how better products are made.
I let the Y! Mail team know how I feel about it via this blog article, but for you, use the feedback function from within the mail itself. Y! is trying real hard to make their mail better, so if you use Y! Mail, use the beta and leave descriptive feedback.