The show where we cook something delicious, eat it, and you can’t have any.

That’s the tag line for one of my favorite podcasts, Spilled Milk, and it kind of applies to what I’m showing you today—kind of because you can’t have any yet. You will, however, be able to have some soon. Or rather, have it soon. It being Gander, our heretofore mostly under-wraps email client.

In a nutshell, Gander is a client that categorizes and reorganizes incoming email based on what you, the recipient, need to do with it.  Gander has three categories: Respond, Read, and Skim. Respond holds the emails that necessitate further action on your part, Read holds emails that, while germane to your position, do not require any further action. Skim holds the emails you don’t even need to read.

These categories aren’t arbitrary: to arrive at them, we met with many, many people whose only shared characteristic was an inability to deal with email in the way they would like to. The main reasons for this were the volume of email received, the unpredictability of responses and response times, and the lack of automatic distinction between the stuff that mattered and the stuff that didn’t.

Hence, we created a client that prioritizes relevancy over timestamp, action over passive reading, and shoves time-sucking grey mail to the side. Much of what goes into this happens behind the scenes, via a combination of machine learning algorithms (dyadic reciprocity and Naïve Bayesian classifiers), social graphing (neo4j and Gephi), plain ol' regular expressions, and a distributed database built to store massive amounts of unstructured text (MongoDB).

We also paid attention to the front end, blowing away the inbox’s traditional notepaper UI and replacing it with something that looks a lot more like an online magazine, with different spots for headlines, features, and filler.  Unlike an online magazine, though, Gander’s interface is drag-and-drop. If messages are miscategorized, just drag them from the original category into the desired one, and our algorithms will learn from you.

Mobile experience was another area we thought a lot about, as many of the people we interviewed rely heavily on their phones and tablets to check email while traveling, commuting, and waking up/going to bed. We built Gander in HTML5, using responsive design, so that the interface adjusts to your device, ensuring a consistent experience, and eliminating any chance of "I thought I deleted that/I thought I saved that/ Where the hell did I put that" stress. 

Security-wise, we encrypt all credentials and session information. Additionally, because Gander is a web client, nothing is stored locally, so in the event of loss or theft, your mail, at least, will be safe.

Your privacy is very important to us. I know, Facebook says the same thing, but we mean it. We will never, ever sell or share your emails with a third party. We, the humans making Gander, do not have access to your email. Our administrator can reset your password and delete your account. Our algorithms do have access to the headers of your emails, in order to categorize them.

Okay, back to the fun stuff. This is how you use Gander:

  1. go to the app
  2. enter your Google credentials
  3. have at it!

Here is a full feature list, as of 12.10.12:

  • automatic categorization
  • drag-and-drop recategorization
  • compose
  • reply
  • delete
  • folders
  • Gmail/Google Apps support

Here is the coming soon:

  • search
  • defer
  • threading
  • Sending and forwarding attachments [viewing attachments works today]
  • Exchange Mail support

Here is the price today: $0. We’re still in the early stages, and, honestly, the feedback you provide us with definitely merits free use.

Here is how you can get Gander:

  1. Sign up on our waitlist.  We just rolled it out to the first, small batch of people on our waitlist, and will be rolling it out to a larger batch soon.
  2. Sign up to be a user tester. This entails meeting (remote or IRL) with our UX Engineer for a half hour and telling her about how Gander is working or not working.
  3. Wait for the paid version.

That’s all for now, but I will be back with updates soon!