Google just announced a devise to “modernize” email, permitting “engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.” Does that sound like a terrible suspicion to anyone else? It certain sounds like a terrible suspicion to me, and not only that, but an suspicion borne out of rival vigour and existent precedence rather than user needs. Not good, Google. Send to trash.
See, email belongs to a special class. Nobody really likes it, but it’s the way nobody really likes sidewalks, or electrical outlets, or forks. It not that there’s something wrong with them. It’s that they’re mature, useful equipment that do accurately what they need to do. They’ve transcended the universe of likes and dislikes.
As justification consider the extreme monument of anything other than normal versions of those things. Moving sidewalks, oddball outlets, sporks — they only exist in extreme niches like airports and lunchables. The originals have remained unvaried for as prolonged as millennia for a good reason.
Email too is simple. It’s a famous apportion in most every company, household, and device. The doing has changed over the decades, but the simple suspicion has remained the same given the very first email systems in the ’60s and ’70s, positively given its widespread standardization in the ’90s and change to web platforms in the ’00s. The parallels to snail mail are counsel (it’s a cargo with an residence on it) and morality has always been partial of its pattern (interoperability and remoteness came later).
No company owns it. It works reliably and as dictated on every platform, every handling system, every device. That’s a monument currently and a ruin of a profitable one.
But the tech attention has never been one to let elegance, history, or interoperability mount in the way of distinction (RIP Google Reader), so that’s not much of an argument. Still, we suspicion it worth saying.
More critical are two things: the tray and the motive.
The tray is the one between communications and applications. Communications contend things, and applications correlate with things. There are crossover areas, but something like email is designed and overwhelmingly used to say things, while websites and apps are overwhelmingly designed and used to interact with things.
It’s radically useful to have a order here the way it’s useful to have a order between a book about fire and a book of matches.
Emails are immobile since messages are meant to be static. The whole judgment of communication around the internet is formed around the telegraphic indication of exchanging one-way packets with immobile payloads, the way the whole judgment of a flare is formed around trenchant a piece of food and permitting attrition to hold it in place during transit.
The tray between communication and movement is critical since it creates it very transparent what certain collection are able of, which in spin lets them be devoted and used properly.
We know that all an email can ever do is contend something to you (tracking pixels and review profits notwithstanding). It doesn’t download anything on its own, it doesn’t run any apps or scripts, attachments are dissimilar items, unless they’re images in the HTML, which is itself optional. Ultimately the whole package is always just going to be a big , immobile cube of calm sent to you, with the occasional file roving shotgun. Open it a year or 10 from now and it’s the same email.
And that condemnation goes both ways. No matter what you try to do with email, you can only ever contend something with it — with another email.
If you wish to do something, you leave the email behind and do it on the other side of the moat.
This is the good talent and abuse of email, that all you can do is send messages back and forth. It’s not always the best option, but it’s frequency the worst. If it’s some-more difficult than that, you use something other than email: a discuss app, a video call, a file host. These useful equipment are mostly located adjacent to email, infrequently closely integrated, but they’re never actually partial of it. This is a good thing. The closest you get is little things like adding something automatically to your calendar or scraping moody info from an itinerary. Ultimately it’s still just reading something.
What Google wants to do is overpass that moat, radically to concede applications to run inside emails, singular ones to be sure, but by clarification the kind of thing that belongs on the other side of the moat.
Why do this? Are we using out of tabs? Were people angry that clicking “yes” on an RSVP email took them to the invitation site? Were they asking to have a video discuss window open inside the email with the link? No. No one cares. No one is being inconvenienced by this aspect of email (inbox overkill is a opposite problem), and no one will benefit anything by changing it.
Well, almost no one. Which brings us to the motive.
AMP is, to start with, Google exerting its marketplace energy to extend its control over others’ content. Facebook is doing it, so Google has to. Using its absolved position as the means by which people find a good understanding of content, Google is attempting to make it so that the calm itself must also be partial of a complement it has defined.
“AMP started as an bid to help publishers, but as its capabilities have stretched over time, it’s now one of the best ways to build abounding webpages,” it writes in the blog post announcing the AMP for Gmail test. No, it isn’t. AMP is a way to adjust and deliver, on Google’s terms, genuine webpages built with genuine tools.
The forgive that the mobile web isn’t quick adequate is threadbare, and the solution of a special Google-designed sub-web transparently self-serving. It’s like someone who sells bottled water revelation you your daub runs too slow.
AMP for email is just an prolongation of that principle. People leave Gmail all the time to go to airline webpages, online shops, social media, and other places. Places that have combined their own user environments, with their own analytics, their own processes that may or may not be profitable or even manifest to Google. Can’t have that!
But if these bland tasks take place inside Gmail, Google exerts control over the insinuate details, defining what other companies can and can’t do inside the email complement — rather than using the healthy stipulations of email, which we dive to echo are a feature, not a bug.
And as if that play wasn’t enough, the other one is as baldly avaricious as anything the company has ever done. Dynamic calm in emails. Where have we listened that one before? That’s right: it’s Google’s whole business indication for charity a free email service. Ads.
What is the immeasurable infancy of “live” calm on the web, things that needs to call home and refurbish itself? Not articles like this one, or videos or songs — those are just resources you request. Not chats or emails. Cloud-based capability collection like shared documents, sure, granted. But the rest — and we’re articulate like 99.9 percent here — is ads.
Ads and trackers that adjust themselves to the calm around them, the information they know about the viewer, and the latest pricing or promotions. That’s how Google wants to “modernize” your inbox.
Does “engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences” ring a little opposite now?
Don’t use this. Don’t inspire it. AMP and other initiatives like it are already a corrupt on the web, and they will be equally bad for email.
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