Today’s post was written by Contributing Writer Marie Williams.
Last November, we heard rumblings of a possible game change from both Google and Yahoo that would marry social networking and e-mail into “Inbox 2.0.” Since then, whispers of a revolution have gone quiet. And with a Yahoo merger possibly on the horizon, it remains to be seen when–or if–the concept of Inbox 2.0 will ever see the light of day.
In this age of four hundred Facebook friends and the ever-increasingly crowded inbox, how can you sift through the clutter to find your most important peeps? While we wait for the search giants to figure out Web 2.0, content yourself with the impending promise of Xobni Insight.
Xobni–pronounced Zob-nee or “inbox” spelled backwards for you word wizards–is an Outlook application that wants to help you keep up with all your BFFs. After receiving an invite to the closed Beta, socialTNT decided to take Xobni Insight for a test drive. Here’s our review.
Why Xobni rocks:
Snapshot to your (Inbox’s) soul
- Direct from the widget, you have all your friends’ contact information.
- Like a true social network, Xobni let’s you see a friends list of shared contacts.
- Quick and easy access to all of your e-mail threads or files you’ve exchanged in the past.
- Xobni scrapes your Outlook calendar and puts free time into an organized list, allowing you to send your schedule to any of your friends–very cool!
- To help you get a better idea of when it’s best to contact your friends, Xobni even graphs times during the day when you most frequently exchange e-mails with each person–sweet!
- Check out this screenshot (right) of Chris’ Xobni profile. He’s typically active on e-mail in the AM, at noon, and in the late afternoon.
Super search capabilities
- Need to find a contact quickly? Search their name and you get a Xobni profile and a list of relevant e-mails mentioning and/or from that person.
- Looking for an email about a certain topic or conversation? Xobni gives you instant access to the top Yahoo Web results, as well as any recent emails with that topic.
- The best part: The e-mail results highlight the exact portion of those e-mails that is relevant to your query.
Plays Well With Others
- If you are actively using it, Xobni folds out on the right-hand side of your Outlook. This helps you search and navigate your inbox without a lot of distraction.
- When minimized, Xobni shows contact info or upcoming calendar appointments relevant to the email you’re viewing.
How Xobni could be even better:
Slow Children at Play
After downloading Xobni, we noticed other applications seemed to run quite a bit slower…major bummer when you’re trying to streamline your e-mail flow.
We uninstalled and re-downloaded and that seemed to help, but Outlook’s still not as nimble as it should be with the Xobni add-on.
Make It Personal
In its current state, you can’t store additional information beyond Xobni’s pre-defined categories. Add a personal e-mail or cell number? Nope. Note their birthday with reminder to send a thoughtful card? Uh-uh. Add notes about an offline-convo? Sorry.
User definable fields would add significant value to Xobni’s already helpful service.
Data Checks In, But Never Checks Out
- Data Portability is a hot topic this year. LinkedIn and Outlook both allow export of contact information. Xobni should, too.
With the rise of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, e-mail may eventually go the way of the DoDo bird. Be on the lookout for socialTNT’s review of LinkedIn’s Outlook toolbar.
Want a chance to check out Xobni Insight for yourself? socialTNT has some Xobni Insight Beta invites and wants to share. Send an email to marie [at] socialTNT.com and tell us why YOU need Xobni to fulfill your pursuit of e-mail happiness.
Already a guru at the networking game? How do you manage your connections? Let us know in the comments below.