Do you ever feel like your digital life has become rather… bloated? Between social media networks, instant messaging and email, it’s not uncommon for people to have 5-7 (or more) different services to check on a daily basis. In an ever increasing web-centric world, don’t expect this count to drop any time soon.
So what’s a guy or gal supposed to do around here to streamline some of this digital communications mess? Threadsy. It isn’t the answer to all your prayers… yet. Although, they’re definitely on the way towards being a usable solution to literally pull your digital communication streams together — all in one place.
Today I’m taking a look at the exciting, upcoming service — Threadsy.
The idea of Threadsy, is to “Pull Yourself Together” by combining all your communication services into one, easily manageable stream. At first I thought this was a fantastic idea; then I realized the sheer quantity of information, all dumped in one location, could create more of a mess than actually simplify anything. To a certain extent, that’s true.
Okay, this isn’t the default view in Threadsy. I set it to this view to show just how much information can be piled into the interface. In the main left column you’ll see @ reply tweets and emails (both from all accounts setup). In the right column is the Twitter and Facebook stream, displaying very similar to many Twitter clients.
At the bottom is a Meebo instant messaging client, used to pull all your instant messaging services into one place. Probably the most important elements of the interface, is the dark bars at the top of each column. These are for navigation and filtering.
In my opinion, this is one of Threadsy’s features that make it a great service. Sure, viewing all your communication streams at once will look like a total mess (unless you want a full overview), but simply clicking any of the individual service buttons (like gmail, hotmail or one of your Twitter acounts) and you’re instantly viewing only the data from that account.
Okay, so we’ll get into the navigation and filtering of your data streams a little later but, for now, you get the idea.
Nope. Not yet. Threadsy is still in beta, so you’ll need to get an invite before you can sign up and start using it. This shouldn’t be too difficult and if you stick around for tomorrow, we’ll be posting a beta invite link for our readers. Once you grab an invite and sign up, you’ll also get a link good for ten invites.
So once you find an invite, create an account and join the private beta.
Setup Email Accounts
Next you’ll add your email accounts. Currently you can add Gmail (including Google Apps), Yahoo mail, Hotmail, AOL mail and IMAP accounts. I’m not sure if there’s a limit to the number of accounts you can add, but I was able to add my five accounts without a hitch.
Threadsy says they take your privacy and security very seriously, will never share any of your information and utilize industry-standard encryption to secure passwords. That’s about all the details I saw in regards to privacy and security but if you’re concerned or have questions, feel free to catch them on Twitter @Threadsy. I’m sure they’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
Setup Social Networks
Next you’ll setup your social networks. Currently you’re only able to add Facebook and Twitter. I’m not sure if other networks are planned but it wouldn’t surprise me.
This isn’t all that important but I wanted to include the screenshot explaining “inbound” and “unbound”. The inbound column is the main column shown earlier in this article, which includes email @mentions, DM’s andFacebook messages. The unbound column is the smaller column on the right shown earlier in this article, which includes your typical Facebook and Twitter feeds.
As previously mentioned, the interface uses a two column layout with expandable (and almost completely hide-able) instant messaging bar at the base of the page. The main navigation bar adjusts nicely to appropriately fit more or less buttons depending on the width of your browser. The unbound column can be reduced in size or completely minimized using the arrows between the two columns.
Other interface elements and features are things you would expect from an interface like this, which is a good thing because I think it’s pretty intuitive so far. Of course, as they’re in beta, they’re looking for feedback. There’s a feedback button right next to the logo, right above the main navigation bar.
Everything outside the main application page is about as simplified as possible. In fact, visiting the settings page is a little disappointing in that the options are quite limited. While simplicity at this level is refreshing, I would like to see a greater selection of options. I assume, as the service develops, more options will become available.
Visiting the Settings page shows three tabs, the first and second being your email accounts and social networks. They include standard options like adding, removing and editing accounts.
The general tab, however, only offers two options. Turning sound notifications on or off for inbound and unbound messages, then editing your account password. I thought this was really disappointing. I would really like to be able to control notification options at a more detailed level or at least between inbound and unbound messages.
Threadsy is in beta though, so I think it’s safe to assume that additional options will become available as development continues.
This isn’t a big deal but, as we all know, load time is something a lot of people care about. When you initially log into Threadsy, you get the below loading screen. Each time this screen loads, you’ll see a different quote (for all the quotes, check out the source code).
Once the main app is loaded, you won’t see the loading page again unless you navigate away to another page such as Settings (what appears to be the only page that requires reloading the app). Other “pages” such as About, Help, Terms and Privacy, load in an overlay or open a new browser tab.
The overlay pages clearly haven’t been styled yet but they serve their purpose if you need them.
Using the app is pretty straight forward but features you need might be missing, for now. It’s in beta so you can expect feature additions, performance and reliability improvements (although I didn’t have any issues in this area) and continued UI enhancements.
Inbound Accounts and Filtering
As I mentioned earlier, things can get pretty messy when you’re viewing all your inbound messages. By default, you’ll be viewing all your account(s) data. Just click the specific account you want to view and you’re [nearly] instantly viewing only that account’s data.On the right side of the inbound navigation bar are options to filter and search your data. Filtering only allows viewing all, starred or unread and searching seems to search all your data streams, not just the currently selected account.
The inbound column shows @messages and DM’s from Twitter. Hovering over a tweet highlights each end of the message and shows typical Twitter controls such as star, reply, re-tweet and delete. At the end of the message, under the time, a small icon is displayed to show what type of message it is (@message or DM).
Viewing inbound emails is essentially the same; highlighted hovering, delete, star, reply and archive. Clicking the quick reply button drops down a message window inline to send a reply… quickly.
Tweets have the same inline quick reply feature.
If that’s not enough, click the small “more+” link to the right, which will open a slightly larger inline quick reply that includes more options like recipients, basic text editing, file attachments, etc.
Clicking an email opens the full email with all the typical options to reply, forward, etc. Just recently added, you can now move emails to folders (or labels in Gmail).
More advanced options for some email applications will obviously be missing, but, the Threadsy team is very interested in features you want so give them feedback!
Opening an email opens the email inline with your other messages. Scroll up/down to view other messages. You can even open multiple messages inline with each other!
Although the unbound column is generally used for its own individual purpose (like a Twitter client), it is also tied in with the inbound column usage.
A really neat feature of Threadsy is the ability to quickly view someone’s “profile”. For example, if I open an email from someone the unbound column automatically changes to profile view and pulls the email sender’s information from Twitter and even Flickr or LinkedIn! Flickr photos are even included and when clicked, a neat gallery view overlay comes up.
This is a really great feature that adds to the relationships between yourself and your contacts.
Unbound Twitter and FacebookThe unbound Twitter and Facebook features are pretty typical of a Twitter client and most of the standard features are supported. Using the navigation at the top you can quickly switch between your social networks, view them all, search or update your status.
A neat feature worth mentioning is inline images and videos. When people Tweet media, the media is displayed inline with the Tweet. No need to open a new page to play YouTube videos people post!
The final verdict? Pretty awesome. Threadsy is an app in development, thus the beta status, but so far it’s on the right track towards becoming one of the most versatile, useful and helpful web applications to date. The interface has a great start both in terms of design and usability, the combination of features like viewing contact profiles and associated information will give it an edge over other apps with the same intended purpose and integrated instant messaging pretty much rounds out the app.
Yes, there are features missing, the app still has a ways to go before dropping the beta status, but overall — Threadsy is likely going to be a core tool in my daily workflow to help maintain control over the ever growing array of communication streams.
I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t like it at first. I really like using Gmail’s interface, but the longer I use Threadsy, the more I want to use it to manage everything. With some added features and improvements, this will be an always-open app for me (it may be already, haven’t decided yet). I’m giving Threadsy an 8/10 because it’s already an awesome app and has a tremendous amount of potential but there are improvements to be made. Another review will be due once they drop the beta status to see if it is a 10/10 web app.
Update: Check out the TC50 post on Threadsy. A great video demonstration is included.
500 Beta Invites
Scott, from Threadsy, has been generous enough to give Web.AppStorm readers
500 1000 beta invites! A beta invite link, good for 500 1000 invites, will be posted tomorrow morning at 7am Pacific Time. Get them while you can!
Update: Beta invite link has been posted here.