Knee-jerk review of Ymail v. Gmail (v. Mail.app)

Not really sure why, but I harbored the delicious notion that I could somehow be the one to snag felix@ymail.com yesterday, after all wasn’t it the point? That somehow releasing ymail.com and rocketmail.com would allow those who couldn’t get the names they wanted @yahoo.com to now get it? Because there’s not more than 3 Felix’s total in the online world. That’s what Yahoo! and I thought, anyways. Turns out, surprisingly, that that isn’t the case, it suggested like felix85 or something to me what must have been a couple hours after the gates opened.

Sigh, but since I was there anyway, I figured I’d sign up and see. I know a bunch of folks who really like Yahoo mail and I’ve heard it mimics the desktop experience much better than Gmail (which doesn’t even try). So I registered my name (and granted, I did get nybble which actually did surprise me, so maybe there’s something to this whole thing) and dug in.

Let me backtrack and say, I use Mail.app on OSX primarily but I forward all my mail to Gmail which I use for searching because Mail.app’s search, it is not an exaggeration to say, sux teh ballz. In general I don’t want to kill myself when I use Mail, which is more than I can say for most mail clients I’ve tried.

Ok, on to some knee-jerking.

· Home screen on Ymail is not mail. Show stopper.

My first thought and first show stopper for me happens immediately. When I go to ymail and log in, the first page I’m shown is not my inbox, it is some kind of yahoo homepage showing me news. W.T.F.?? That’s right, the home page of ymail isn’t mail it’s top stories. With a big ol’ ad right there in the main panel. Why in hell would you put my mail a click away? This is obviously a case where Y! does not put the user experience at the forefront of the application. Ridiculous. Obviously, when you open up Gmail or Mail.app your inbox is front and center.

· Ymail inbox is very desktop like. Nice.

Once at your inbox it was very easy to understand – following the desktop app UI quite closely. Everything made sense and conveniently next to each menu item was the keyboard shortcut if it had one. Adding folders and drag-dropping mail (even multiple emails at once) was very intuitive and easy to use. Works just like it does in Mail.app and one ups Gmails select box and then pulldown to tag. On the other hand, I actually prefer tags to folders since you can tag email with more than one tag whereas an email can only be in a single folder. On the third hand, I rarely use tags in Gmail at all because the search is so good.

· Ymail search is weak. Lame.

The reason I use Gmail at all is because their search is so good, they have a basic search box and an advanced one that lets you specify what fields to search, date ranges, if it has attachments, etc. Very useful, practical things. Ymail seems to have a search that’s about as good as Mail.app’s. Actually weaker, at least in Mail.app you can specify from, to, subject, etc… Ymail seems to just be a plain old search box. They’re a search company (still), why is this so lame? If there are special ways to search they don’t make it obvious.

· No support for alternate From addresses in Ymail. Show stopper.

In Gmail you can set up a different email address and are able to choose what you want your From line to be. This is great if your main email address isn’t @gmail.com, like me. It isn’t so important in Mail.app, although you can do the same thing there – for some people with a collection of active emails this is critical even for the desktop. Ymail doesn’t seem to have anyway to do it.

· Ymail has nice integration with calendar. Compelling.

One thing I noticed that I really like is the on page integration with calendaring. At the bottom of the main panel there’s a line that shows you your upcoming events. This is really, really nice. I wish both Gmail and Mail.app had this – a genuinely super useful addition to the page.

· Contacts management is excellent in Ymail. Compelling.

Contacts management is really easy in Ymail. Next to each email there’s an add button which pops up a convenient form with name and email all prefilled and you can add the rest. No such luck in Gmail you have to go to the contacts page and add one manually. That sucks. Ymail is very much like Mail.app in this regards and makes adding contacts super easy.

A bunch of other features like chat and sms integration are things I’m not really interested in. I have a chat client I like and an iPhone so I’m covered with SMS. Ymail sprinkles ads all over the place, which is generally fine, but I’m used to no ads like on Gmail so it’s a little wierd. It also doesn’t seem to autorefresh the inbox if that page is open, I had to click the inbox to see new mail. This is pretty lame and both Gmail and Mail handle it better. I can live with all that, though.

To me Ymail is eh. It does a nice job of mimicking the desktop experience. But, to be honest, I’d like something better than my desktop experience. Gmail at least provides a kick ass search, tagging instead of foldering and I may be the only one, but I like the way it builds those conversations. I’ve found it quite useful at times. Ymail does set you up with the unlimited storage, but I’m only at 58% of my Gmail storage so I guess it’s not a factor for me. At least Ymail isn’t a beta project.

Those are my initial thoughts on this. Any Yahoo! mail users want to take issue or correct me where I’m mistaken?

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  • Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

  • Mark_schwartz

    My biggest problem with ymail.com is that 99% of the population hasn't heard of it after two years since its inception. OK, I am exaggerating. People think I made a typo on my resume and meant Gmail! (if they didn't notice it was correct from my incoming email to them, hello!) If an agency sends my resume on to a company, I ask that they explain that it is not a typo to the hiring company.

    I am xxxx_xxxxx@ymail.com . Gmail doesn not allow the underscore. It disallows other basic symbols as well for handles. So in a nutshell, if someone changes the "y" to a "g" thinking I made a typo, they will send my mail to a non-existent gmail.

  • Jsullivan J

    "I actually prefer tags to folders since you can tag email with more than one tag whereas an email can only be in a single folder."
    Your mind limits you. You may copy and paste as many emails as you want into as many folders as you want

  • filipinorizaliankingpin09

    gmail of google is simply the best it has more memory capacity better features and awesome interface google is the no.1 ruler of the internet world.yahoo mail is very ordinary they should innovate their ymail.

  • Yeah, I realized that it does refresh the inbox, I guess just not that often. And that search filtering stuff is actually pretty cool - I didn't notice it, I had to scan around for it once I knew such a thing was there. Pretty nice! Although, I'd worry that since it's prescriptive it only let's you refine based on what they think you might want to refine on - which looks good but I often have wierd searches. Hm..

    Still. You should give Gmail a shot. I wonder what you'd think of it.

  • teddyb109

    Web interface only--the less time in Entourage--the better. I like Mail.app, it is a little speedier for inbox processing, but since I'm stuck using Entourage I can't bring myself to use a 3d mail client. I actually really dig the gmail interface and the keyboard shortcuts make it pretty slick.

    Sometimes if I wonder if the gmail ads work on a subliminal level...I mean, I think I don't see them, but who knows.

  • Deasil Employee #2

    Dude Ymail totally refreshes your inbox, I don't know what the refresh rate is, but you can obviously manually trigger it by "Check Mail". And the integrated calendar/event handling it super cool. I only use web based mail, altho the only thing I'd really like is to be able to reply from another account...I admit their search is a little weak as there's not upfront way to add parameters, but once you search, they have nice filtering options...

  • Do you only use the web interface for your personal account? You don't pop it into Entourage? Scott said he's only using the web interface and I'm wondering if I could handle that. For some reason I have a fixation on liking a desktop mail app... maybe I need to just get over it.

    And yeah, it's funny, I actually thought there were *no* ads on Gmail till just now and realize they show text ads on the side. But they blend really well and pretty much are unintrusive. Ymail shows ads in several places and they blink and flash and otherwise try to make themselves known.

  • teddyb109

    I'm also stuck with Entourage for work mail--which is an endless source of annoying mild pain, but have everything forwarded to gmail for it's search awesomeness and use it for personal mail. It rocks. I checked out my old ymail account after this post, and was reminded that part of what I loved about gmail is that the text ads seem non-intrusive. Ymail seemed to be shouting at me.

  • Yeah, mostly I think inertia has kept me from moving my MX records to Google. The send bouncing is just another little weight to keep me from moving. :) Although it is a little disturbing.

    I still haven't added GreaseMonkey - probably because FF2 has made me add-on shy. I should probably get over that since 3 has been fast and solid for me. Hrm...

  • Felix,
    I use Entourage 2008 for work email (exchange account) and it don't sucks the ballz. Also my personal email has been on Google Apps for a couple of years and no problems.

    Recently upgraded to Firefox3 with Better Gmail 1.1.3 add-on, the UI works quite nicely. Google reader and Grand central integration are nice touches that I am trying out now.

  • Yeah, I'm pretty sure Ymail was on very few people's radars, it was kind of a non-event. I'm going to have to check out MailPlane - Mail.app is starting to get on my nerves and I'm going to probably move my domain mail to Google Apps anyway - although my buddy says that he just did that and Google was bouncing mail he was sending, want to see the resolution on that. Sigh. Oh mail, why are you so complicated?

  • Guess I'm out of the loop, Ymail didn't even show up on my radar till I read your post.

    Anyway I've been using gmail now for a few years and I'd NEVER turn back. I use MailPlane on OSX to manage all my Gmail accounts (I have about 4) so I get the best of both worlds there. A unified desktop app that wraps a nice GUI around the Gmail web interface. Functionally, its identical and you don't have to sign in/out of the gmail website to check multiple accounts.

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