Question

What are your favorite email-powered apps or hacks?

Email's not just a way to send messages—it's also a way to connect apps without APIs. And with some apps, it can be the main way you use the software. I Done This, for example, was entirely built around email to start with, emailing you once a day to ask what you'd accomplished. Journaling app Penzu works similarly, not to mention all the newsletters that, without email, might be another app.

You can email apps to your todo list, notes to your notebook, and reminders to yourself, and more. What are your favorite apps that use email as the main way you work with them? Or, what are your favorite hacks to use email for more than it's designed for, such as emailing a file or store list to yourself so you don't forget it?

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#Gmail #Superhuman #Email Marketing #Done #Trello #Zapier #Things
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les's avatar
3 months ago

So just a disclaimer to start: I am new to Capiche, and I work on Twobird. But I think the reasons we made Twobird are relevant to your question: We started with the assertion that your email inbox is the one place that's perennially central to your work and life. It's functionally our primary todo list; it's just that existing software didn't embrace it. Like you said, the practice of emailing yourself something as a todo/reminder is really common, but a bit clunky and read-only. Email integrations with notes apps are also useful, but limited.

We realized that what we really wanted was first-class editable/shareable/collaborative notes integrated into our inbox. So that's what we made with Twobird. This also solves another problem we noticed: content in notes apps rots unless you're really committed to manual organization. Notes stay more relevant and useful when they're in the inbox you already use all the time anyway. And you do everything with just one set of simple tools: archiving and setting reminders on email and notes works the same way, as does search.

We also just added a new calendar feature, and once again, the idea is to have everything tightly integrated. Upcoming events appear at the top of your inbox. Reminders (for both notes and email) are integrated into the full calendar view. You can even embed a Twobird note in an event.

So that's the angle we continue to build on. But it's just exciting, in general, to see folks embracing email and using it in new ways. We love email and we certainly hope the trend continues!

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @les )
3 months ago

@les Welcome to the community, and thanks for sharing your app!

Twobird looks super clever! The subscription section is genius. I typically add a reminder for myself for a month or year (minus a few days) every time I sign up for a new subscription, so I have a chance to unsubscribe before things renew. Doing that automatically via emails is clever!

With calendars and reminders, is that basically pulling out emailed event invites, or is it pulling out conversations that just discuss meetings even if they don't include an actual .ical invite?

Also curious, if you use Twobird as your core email app, how do you manage email newsletters? Do you have a reading list in it?

2 points
les's avatar
@les (replying to @maguay )
3 months ago

@maguay Thank you very much! So maybe I should clarify a bit: we actually implemented our own reminders system for email and notes. You set a reminder date on something, it leaves your inbox, then returns at the specified date. Basically what other apps call "snooze". For calendars and invites, we don't do anything based on content; we just try to convey upcoming events in a more convenient way, we make it easy to RSVP to events directly in the inbox, etc. And we have the full Calendar section where you see everything that has a date associated with it (i.e. events and reminders). I hope that makes sense!

As for newsletters, we have this configurable Low Priority bucket where we try to set aside newsletters and other automated email for later. That's mostly to help keep the Inbox focused and less hectic. We are definitely considering whether we can provide a nicer experience for newsletter content specifically, separate from how we treat notification emails, etc.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @les )
3 months ago

Gottcha, that makes sense. And then, if you want to add a new task and set a reminder for yourself, you just email yourself and add a reminder date?

Ah clever on newsletters. Most email apps don't really try much for the newsletter reading experience, though Hey's The Feed is a clever shot at trying to turn newsletters into a reading list. Feels like there's a lot more that could be done in that space, with newsletters being so popular nowadays.

2 points
les's avatar
@les (replying to @maguay )
3 months ago

Reminders are created by hovering (or tap and hold on mobile) on a note or email, then choosing Remind and setting a reminder date. We also create a reminder automatically when you reply to an email with a question, so you are reminded if you didn't get an answer. We're always looking for other situations where it would be helpful (and not annoying) to have a reminder created automatically.

2 points
maguay's avatar
3 months ago

I've always found it cool how many to-do list apps let you email in tasks—everything from Basecamp to Todoist to even native Mac apps like Things. That's actually how some of the Zapier to-do list integrations work or started out; some apps don't have an API, but they do let you email in data, so you could use Zapier's email tool to send data to that app automatically. That's how I copied team tasks from Trello to my personal Things to-do list for years.

Other cool email-powered apps include Evernote, which lets you email in stuff to save as a note, I Done This to reply to an email and list everything you've accomplished to keep a record, and more. One I just came across today was Nat.app, which emails you before every meeting starts, so you can email back in details about the call with a client to log notes to your CRM quickly.

@aleemmawani's Streak is another interesting take on the idea of email as software, though in Streak's case it's an app built inside Gmail to manage CRM and more, rather than actually using your emails as the CRM, say.

Then, @dharmesh had perhaps the best email-powered workflow when he shared that "Starring email is my to-do list." Sometimes you don't even need another email-powered app, and email itself can be your productivity app.

1 point
Sivan's avatar
2 months ago

Hey @Maguay, Sivan from Spike
To be honest, I think the question is also part of the problem with how we work and try to organize our thoughts/tasks etc. The hack isn't just using email in addition to all our other tools, but rather using only our Inboxes. Email, in and of itself, is extremely powerful. Not only is it a technology that's based on open protocols that allow us to have entirely un-siloed conversations, it's also the starting place and the main hub for all your tasks - personal and professional. 
That's why at Spike, we utilize the full potential of email and made it into a centralized workplace that's just as powerful as it is simple to use. We harness the conversational nature of chat, and combine it with the asynchronous nature of email to create the world's first Conversational Email that spices up your daily comms and strips away stiff formalities. But we went ahead and took our mission to improve productivity even further. We added easy calendar and cloud integration, group and team chat, collaborative online Notes, Docs, Tasks and To-Dos, and video and voice calls to our workspace so everything you need for your work and personal communications is in one place - improving your organization and work day.

So instead of juggling dozens of apps and connecting different APIs or apps-- we just brought all your essential tools into your Inbox.

1 point
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