Monday, March 29, 2010

reMail Clones hit the App Store

When we open sourced reMail, I thought that one likely outcome is that we would see a bunch of reMail-like applications on the App Store. I even wrote some guidelines for rebranding reMail on the Google Code page.

In the past few days, I've heard of a two reMail-like apps getting approved on the App Store: OneMail and fwdMail. Both are $0.99 (reMail used to be free, but you had to spend $4.98 via in-app purchases for the functionality that's in the open source release).

fwdMail ($0.99) is most like reMail: While some artwork has been changed, it looks like the code wasn't.

OneMail ($0.99 intro pricing) seems to have put in a lot more work: reMail was completely re-themed, and the navigation flow was cleaned up. There are still some minor issued with the new navbar on my iPhone 3G, but overall OneMail is nice. In particular, the developer added landscape viewing of emails, which was a much-requested feature.

If you're a developer that's doing something interesting with reMail, please reach out to me and let me know.

This is not an endorsement of OneMail or fwdMail by myself or my employer, just some information for my readers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Insightful in Intervals

Smart people - the engineers, investors, or entrepreneurs - seem most insightful when you see them only every month or two. In the time between those meetings, they've had a chance to gain new experience and data. They've also had the time to turn that data into new ideas and insights.

If you see someone every day, you'll see how those ideas are generated step by step. It's easier to look insightful in intervals.

-- Thanks to Immad for pointing this out

Friday, March 19, 2010

Abundance Breaks More Things than Scarcity

I just got back from SXSW earlier this week. reMail had been nominated as a SXSW Accelerator finalist, and while I couldn't present reMail anymore, I already had the plane ticket and figured I might as well go.

One of the best talks was by Clay Shirky, who I have a huge braincrush on.

His best point was that abundance breaks more things than scarcity. Humans have been trained for tens of thousands of years to deal with scarcity: We put on a price on scarce items, we manage their distribution, and if they're necessary for life or safety, we've established political systems to make sure they're provided.

But now we're overwhelmed. Yes, atoms are getting cheaper and we all own much more stuff than we used to. But the real flood comes in bits and bytes. Our brains were just not made to handle all of it. I wonder if humans will evolve first, or technologies to manage the overload.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pitching Advice from Chrys Bader

[...] You can't make an uninteresting product better by adding more features, just as you can't make your pitch more compelling by throwing a slew of big words and buzz words into it.

Bad: "Our company enables users to propagate video content to Twitter via our scalable cloud-based encoding system and URL shortening technology"
Good: "Our service lets you send videos to Twitter from any device. We're like TwitPic, but for video."

-- via Chrys Bader

Friday, March 05, 2010

reMail is Now Open Source

From the announcement on the reMail Blog:

Last month, we announced reMail's acquisition by Google. Since we'll be focusing on other projects at Google, we also decided to remove reMail from the App Store. Existing users were able to keep using it because reMail is a client-only application. Our announcement caused a lot of interest in reMail's product, and we looked at a number of options to make it available in some form. We decided that the best option was to open source the code, which is now available on Google Code as remail-iphone under the Apache 2.0 License.

As someone who is passionate about mobile email, my hope is that developers interested in making email-related apps can use reMail code as a starting point. Part of the reason email apps are hard is because you have to pay the tax of figuring out how to download email via IMAP, parse MIME messages, handle attachments, and store data. reMail has already solved these problems. If you have a great mobile email idea, I hope you will find reMail's source code helpful in your quest.

I put some effort into documenting the source code so you can get started on your ideas quickly. If you like reMail and want to improve it, I have also listed some potential projects with implementation tips. Most of these projects are features that users have requested in the past. I encourage you to contribute improvements back to the project. I've also created the group remail-iphone on Google Groups, which is a great place to ask questions. Best of luck with your projects!

Google Code: remail-iphone

As someone who is passionate about mobile email, my hope is that developers interested in making email-related apps can use reMail code as a starting point. Good luck with your projects!

Google Code: remail-iphone