A Few Months with Hey

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 3 min read

I made this video soon after Hey launched because I enjoyed my first 2 weeks with it and wanted to see where they were going with this new service.

Nearly 2 months later, I have an update. Hey is one of, if not the best new service I've signed up for in the past 5 years. How much do I like it? I have a recurring task in my task manager to move one account over to my Hey email address everyday.

Yup, I Paid for Less Email

When he was making the rounds around launch, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried kept asking people some variant of, "would you may more money for less email?" After 2 months, my relationship with email has completely changed from how it had been since 2004 when I signed up for Gmail (incidentally, Gmail's big thing was how much storage it gave you, so it was really about more email).

The Imbox, Feed, and Paper Trail system works wonderfully for me. On most days, I only ever look at the Imbox, and never even check the other feeds. A couple times a week I'll wonder, "I wonder if I got anything randomly interesting," and then I'll browse the Feed and Paper Trail.

What's really nice is that because I know that all of my personal and important emails were in my Imbox, I don't need to worry too much about missing anything in these feeds. I scroll them like Twitter; if I miss something, too bad, but it's not a big deal.

Just the Right Number of Notifications

One addition Hey added in the past month was the ability to have the app alert you for all Imbox items autoamtially, and this has been a huge win for me. I don't want 50 notifications per day for email, but the 3-10 I get in the Imbox everyday are things I do want to know about quickly. I used to have to mark each sender to go to the Imbox, and then set their alerts to on.

Request: Better Way to See New Things in the Paper Trail

On the point of notifications, I really like having all my receipts in the Paper Trail, but I wish I could easily get notifications every time something goes in there. Yes, I could turn on notifications for each sender, but that's a pain. Alternatively, I'd like to have some indication on the Imbox page that tells me I have something new in my Paper Trail. I may not always want to be alerted in real time about a new receipt in my email, but I sure would like to be tipped off when someone bills me and I should chekc the receipt to see what it was.

The Apps

Hey doesn't work with any other email clients, so their app has better be good, and thinkfully, it really is! The web version is fast and is very nice to use, especially with keyboard shortcuts. The iPhone one is also really good, and feels very quick. The iPad one is the worst, sadly, as it looks exactly like the web app, but lacks the full array of keyboard shortcuts that the web has. It's gotten better with recent updates, but it's still not 100% there in my book.

Not matter what though, the apps always stay in sync and they all feel very reliable.

The Screener

And how can I forget the Screener feature? Whenever someone emails you for the first time, they get put into a sort of purgatory where they will remain until you give them the Gradiator-style thumbs up or down. I don't get tons of emails from people I want to block, but running a blog and YouTube channel inevitably means you're going to get people emailing for "opportunities" that are really just junk. Filtering those things out with a single click is a joy.

"You Can Do All This in Gmail"

Yes, you can replicate much of Hey's functionality in Gmail. You can also replicate much of macOS's UI with skins in Windows if you want.

The great thing about Hey is that it introduced a system to my email that helped me immediately. I could have spent time configuring labels and rules in Gmail. I could automatically filter everything when it hits my inbox and then consider my inbox in Gmail to be the "screener" area, but it's not the same. For one, if I go to I go to the inbox/screener, not whatever label I had set to be my makeshift "imbox". Also, Gmail has great keyboard shortcuts, but it's not set up to take me between the groups I would have to set up, nor would the UI be as easy to use to bounce between these views.

What I'm trying to say is that thing us Apple fans have known for decades: it's not about how many features you have, it's about how well you've executed on the features you have. Google, Microsoft, and Apple will all gladly give you a free email address today, and if you want to use those, then there are tons of benefits to each of them, but if you buy into Hey's method for sorting email and general UI decisions, then Hey is a great tool and it's made me enjoy email more than ever before.