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January 25, 2006

Yahoo Mail Beta Review

Yahoo! Mail Beta is a web-based email application that combines the rich, responsive interface of a desktop program with the available-from-anywhere convenience of your existing Yahoo! Mail account.

Benefits of Yahoo! Mail Beta include:

* Drag and drop messages into folders for better organization

* A preview pane makes it easier to read your messages

* Speedier Ajax-interface

* Keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl-S to save a message

* Navigate from message to message with the arrow keys

* Messages open in tabs or new windows so you can multitask

Yahoo! Mail Beta doesn't work in Opera (GMail does), it's pretty fast, loads faster than GMail, but you don't have the feeling you're using a desktop client. For example, scrolling the list of messages takes some time, you have to wait a couple of seconds after you select a message (you only see: "Loading message...").

The built-in RSS reader works very good, it imports your feeds from My Yahoo, but you can't categorize them or move them, you can't export your subscriptions into OPML.

Yahoo Beta Mail doesn't preview attachments (not even images) and it opens any external link in a new window. The tab functionality is really limited: you can use it for searching, composing messages, but you can't compose two messages simultaneously. I wonder why they implemented the tabs (I know: so you can multitask) if they are so limited.

The shortcuts are really nice:
Check Mail m
New Message n
Reply r
Print Ctrl+p or p

You can finally attach files easily, but they could remove the Browse and Attach buttons and instead use a Add button to make the interface more user-friendly. It would be one single step, a very intuitive list UI, that could be integrated into the Compose tab.

Spell checking has some flaws.

Overall, the new Yahoo Mail is much better than the previous version, you can't see (too many) ads, but it doesn't have many features included in GMail (label, fast reply, POP3, forwarding, automatic mail saving, attachment preview). Still, it outperforms GMail with is Outlook-ish design.

Classic Yahoo rating: 4/10
Beta Yahoo rating: 7/10
GMail rating: 8.5/10

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