Could HEY Be the Email Service We Were All Waiting For?

Dec 3, 2020

IMPORTANT ADVICE: there aren’t any affiliate marketing links, and I don’t receive anything at all from companies or people I mention in this article.

We’re all fed up with email management.

It’s true. We cannot lie to ourselves. It’s like that bad neighbor you can’t get away from.

Email was first used in 1973. Today, 2020, almost 50 years later, is more or less the same.

Isn’t it a miracle?

Can we think about any tech service or product that is more or less similar than it was 50 years ago (assuming it’s still alive)?

Why is that?

I really can’t answer that question.

I’m fed up with email but, at the same time, I love it. Am I crazy? Be sure of that.

I love email just for one big thing.

It’s an asynchronous media. I decide when I want to check it (I have all my notifications turned off).

That gives me power. The power of not being interrupted. Being able to manage my time, my life.

We keep on using email because there’s nothing that can compete with it.

We loved Slack, Whatsapp, chat services, project management tools… but email’s still alive.

I would even say more. It’s even growing due to services such as paid newsletters, for instance. Services like Substack or Convertkit can tell a lot about that.

Last Jun, 15th 2020, after 2 years working on it, Basecamp launched HEY, “Email at its best”.

Is it worth it?

That’s what I asked myself after watching this YouTube video. Here you can find Jason Fried, HEY’s CEO, sharing a tour of HEY.

First things first: it has a whole bunch of new features.

Here, you can find the top ones.

  • I did really like the service because it’s an entirely different way of “facing” email.
  • Its user interface is stunning from my point of view.
  • It has fantastic features that we all have been asking for.

Which are some of the key features that caught my eye?

  • Scrolling. The guys from ARPANET, in 1973, didn’t know what scroll meant. Today is a must. Being able to see a bunch of emails just by scrolling your screen is awesome.
  • Piles. Are they like labels? Not exactly. You have 3 main piles: inbox (or imbox, as they name it), the Feed (to pile up all your newsletters), and the Paper Trail (to store your receipts, confirmations, and transactional emails). The point is you can see your piles’ content just by scrolling. It’s really great.
  • Focus & reply. Great again! You can go inside all the emails you marked as “Reply Later” and see a gorgeous screen in which you have all the email content on your left-hand side and a reply box on the right-hand side of each one with a reply button on it. You can reply one after another without having to look back at your inbox.
  • Files. You can see all the attached files to your emails just in one library. You can make searches by email address, type of file… Time-saving!
  • Merge threads. If several emails from different senders are related to each other, you can create an only thread to keep all the info together.

I could be listing features all day long because these guys made an amazing job, and I’d like to congratulate them on these lines.

The point is: what should we do?

They’re offering a core service. A service that is one of the most important any user has.

I have all my life in my Gmail account!!!! (I created it in 2010…).

Our 3 companies are working with Google. We’re not talking about email only. We’re talking about Google Suite (now Google Workspace). It’s crazy to move from here!

What about my personal Gmail account? I also depend on Google for many things: email, Workspace, Drive… How these apps are interconnected is excellent. I cannot stop using them.

I’m not scared about moving into new software architectures (recently, I moved all my productivity to Notion), but this is a tall order.

I have a lot of “What if’s”…

  • What if Google develops this kind of functionalities? I’m still wondering why Google big updates are so rare. It was a “big move” from me when they developed features such as “snooze” or “send it later”, features that had been created a long time ago by other software companies.
  • What if I get tired of HEY?
  • What if Basecamp decides to stop working on HEY?
  • What if, after telling a lot of people my new email address (because you have to create a .hey email address), I come back to Gmail?

This scares a lot when you’re talking about a core service such as email is.

By the way, HEY costs 99$ a year. I don’t care about paying 8 bucks a month for a core service that can improve my life, but I have to tell you this, just in case…


My position is crystal clear. I will stay at Google.

I’m pretty sure this kind of features will be implemented sooner or later in Google.

Google has to move one step forward (I hope…).

If it doesn’t, there’s a lot of these features that can be implemented (more or less) using filters, tags, and so forth. A bit of a mess but possible.

Anyway, for many of you, HEY could be an interesting option:

  • From my point of view, is a revolutionary product. They started from scratch, and that’s always a paradise for developers.
  • It’s very well designed and implemented. HEY’s team looked for all the drawbacks email management has and developed really unique functionalities.

Again, congratulations to that amazing Basecamp team because they do really create, design, and develop beautiful products that improve our lives.

Photo at the top courtesy of Onlineprinters on Unsplash.

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