"We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?" - Steve Jobs

Hey Google

HeyLogo

I’ve had quite an off and on relationship with Hey since I signed up for it just prior to its public release. It’s inarguably an interesting take on email, and email management. It’s well designed, is being iterated on fairly well and it’s pretty fun to use.

On the other hand, your emails are tied to a single service / app1, features I’m not very interested in are going to be a big focus for a while (Hey for Work) and, for me at least, I ended up managing my email more not less. There are a few reasons why this was the case. First of all, I’ve been nervous that I’ve been missing something coming into one of the three areas, so I ended up checking the Imbox, Feed and Paper Trail on every visit. Further more, if you use the service as you’re guided to, by leaving your email to flow, you will soon have an app filled with utter junk. This is all part of the design ethos, and I understand it, but over time valid emails in a search, for example, will be diluted by the tut you’ve left festering in the bowels of your Hey mailboxes.

Hey is, as an idea, there to take away the stress of managing your mailbox. Your need for such a thing will, of course, vary substantially from one person to another. I have, for years, coveted the Holy Grail of apps, namely a perfect email client. Hey, if nothing else, has taught me that such a treasure is not only unobtainable but, for me at least, completely not required. My Hey mailbox, which includes my Hey mail, my Gmail account and my iCloud account, is made up of 95% junk and purchase confirmations, 4% newsletters that I’ve signed up for recently and 1% important stuff. This isn’t a set of mailboxes that has ever caused me stress, and it certainly doesn’t need managing. Despite the service impressing me, I’m not currently getting a huge amount out of it.

My jaunt into the world of Hey has, as a matter of fact, reminded me just how good reliable old Gmail is surprisingly. With a little effort, you can easily setup filters to replicate the Hey experience, to a certain extent. All the while retaining a clear, easy to understand and navigate structure with no hidden away emails or unnecessarily blocked senders. And with a bullet proof search function. This is where you all chime in with the comments about _”But what about Google stealing your data?!”_ I’m a user of YouTube, I use Google.com, I have some Google / Nest hubs at home, I use Google Wifi, and Google Photos. At this point, there’s nothing more they’ll learn from my emails that they don’t already have. I’m not being flippant here. Security and privacy are very important to me, and many other people so I do understand and appreciate peoples concerns. I do, however, also understand that Google services are not in fact free like most people say they are.

While you can get onboard with most of Google’s services without physically putting your hand in your wallet, these services require a different currency altogether, and it’s one you most certainly do use to pay for the service. Your data is, for someone like Google, more valuable over time than a bit of cash upfront. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is something you should both consider, and be comfortable with, before you use a service from a company like Google. As long as you’re at peace with that, then away you go. I have, for example, weighed up what I value my data at, and balance that against a perceived ’return in investment’ for what I get back from Google.

This entire post started because I’ve actually moved back to Hey for a while so I could check out the new widgets that were added today. I actually started the post with the title ’Hey, Is That a Widget In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me?’, but decided to scrap that one! It would probably be too much of a tangent to go into them in too much detail at this point, but suffice to say they’re very pretty, with plenty of style, and utility.

Hey Widget

Hey is definitely an interesting service, with some equally interesting ideas. I’m pleased I’ve got involved, if only to invest slightly into a company thinking outside the box on such an old topic. I do, however, think it’s an slightly over-engineered solution to a problem that, again for me, doesn’t exist. I’ll be following along for the ride with it with interest, to see what they move onto once Hey for Work has been delivered and they’re free to work on more features for the average Joe.


  1. Though the service / app in question is available almost anywhere, except the Apple Watch annoyingly. [return]