Talking tech since 2003

Flashback: It’s 10:00AM on a Monday in late August and I just sat down in a meeting with Erez Pilosof, co-founder of Ping, a brand new email app which I’ve been beta testing and praising for weeks.  Erez speaks quickly and with confidence that his new app is the way email should be as he answers my questions and shows me stuff in the latest developer build on his iPhone.  With thousands of people waiting in the queue to try the app, Ping is currently in the hands of about 100 lucky beta testers and the feedback has been very good.  There’s only a few minor tweaks and bug fixes to be made before the first official release.

ping-email-feedFast forward to today, September 5, Ping is making its official debut, you can signup for it today and I highly recommend you do.  The app will be live in the App Store on September 18.

Ping is a fresh take on email, the app has re-imagined the way in which we use email today by understanding the basics of email.  Unlike other recent apps that attempt to improve email that focus on maintaining “inbox zero” and trying to tame your inbox, Ping puts its focus on communication by making it dead simple and fun.

How could email be fun?  Well, Ping has features that you would find in modern day messaging apps like WhatsApp or iMessage, for example if both users are on Ping you can see when people are replying to your email.  You can also see the last time a user has been active on Ping.  Neither of those have ever been done before with email.  But really that’s just the very tip of the iceberg.

So the first thing you will notice about Ping when you open it is that your email will be split into two different panes.  The left pane is all the emails from people you have replied to/interacted with.  The right pane is emails from people/companies you have never replied to/interacted with.  Simple.  When I saw that for the first time I was like, “this makes perfect sense.”  There’s no guess work on Ping’s part, you either have replied to someone or you haven’t and it sorts the email accordingly.  This makes it super easy to manage your email and keep an eye on important emails.  Pair the two panes with a quick swipe down to search and finding any email in your inbox couldn’t be easier.

In addition to splitting up your emails, Ping also gives users the ability to view just media content (photos/videos) or just documents (Word documents, PDF’s, etc) in separate views. This makes it super simple to browse through email attachments and view them without having to find the specific email.  Ping will also display photos and videos directly within the email body.  Ping also makes it super easy to email photos/videos to people, the camera app and access to your camera roll is easily accessible from within the app.

ping-convo-settingsBut sometimes text isn’t enough and you need to make a voice call, or better yet, a video call.  You can do both within Ping (provided the other user is also using Ping).

Ping also has an advanced notification system that you can customize on a per user basis. You can also customize the messaging window on a per user basis with a variety of different background colors.

Right now, Ping is only available on iOS but a desktop/web version is in the works as is an Android version.  I’m glad to hear that Mr. Pilosof realizes that in order for Ping to be a massive success it needs a desktop presence.  People bounce between devices all the time and a consistent experience is very important.

Currently, you can only use one email account with Ping, however, I’m told multiple user account support is planned and in the works.

When it comes to speed, Ping is fast.  I’ve gotten notifications of new email from Ping before they even show up on my desktop.  Plus, emails load quickly, even ones that are more HTML heavy.  That speed factor is important to the Ping team, especially since scaling for email isn’t easy.

When I spoke to Mr. Pilosof, who by the way, is an web/email veteran having co-founded and developed Walla, a leading Israeli Internet/email portal, he told me that users should expect to experience a waiting list before they get into the app similar to the way Mailbox handled their launch, though hopefully Ping will be able to roll out even faster.  Email is a beast of a service, even Gmail which launched back in 2004 had an invite system to help Google scale its email service better.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: If you handed someone (who had never used email) an iPhone with Ping installed and said, “this is email,” I’m thoroughly convinced after seeing and using Ping that they would think email was awesome — not something you get swallowed alive in.

Ping currently supports Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, and iCloud.  So what are you waiting for? Signup for Ping (free) today! And remember, the app will officially go live in the App Store on September 18.


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