Alto, an email client from a team at AOL and Verizon, can now be accessed via Slack and Amazon’s Alexa.
A recent Version 2.0 upgrade of the app introduced a smart overlay that uses machine learning to offer important information, like your gate number for a flight, right when you need it.
Alto Mail has been around since 2012 as a standalone brand within AOL. It aims to be an all-in-one, feature-rich email app that lets you connect your Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo, Outlook, iCloud, AOL accounts, and more. The app’s layout had been fairly traditional — resembling the typical mobile interface.
“We did a lot of research — we don’t want to reinvent how email works,” Arlo Rose, general manager for Alto, told Digital Trends. “We made the choice that we want to be more traditional and focus on a more comfortable thing.”
If Google’s Inbox and Gmail clients fused together, the result would be similar to Alto’s current version. When you launch the app, you’ll be greeted to Dashboard — a set of cards that pull the most critical information you need. For example, if a package from Amazon is expected to arrive within the next few days, Dashboard will feature a card with pertinent information.
These cards appear based on the relevance of the content — the card with your flight information naturally would appear a day or two before your departure.
You’ll also be able to interact with the cards, like jump into tracking information to get a better idea of a package’s location.
With the latest update, you can connect your Alto account to Slack to gain access to items in your Dashboard. In your personal Slack channel, you can commands to upload content from your Alto Stacks — “/alto files” for example, will bring up your Alto File Stack where you can upload files. “/Alto files from [person’s name] from last week” allows you to filter your search for more specific and relevant results.
Similarly, you can now ask Alexa in Amazon’s Echo or Echo Dot for information in your Alto Dashboard. Asking questions like, “when is my next flight,” will pull results from the Dashboard on the app. You can also ask a more general “what’s in my Dashboard,” to get an overview for the more important emails in Alto.
A few other third-party integrations Alto offers are quite neat. The app will automatically detect which ridesharing service you use, and for cards like flights, you’ll be able to request a car straight from the app. These interactions and integrations aren’t restricted to third parties — the idea is that eventually, you’ll be able to check into a flight straight from the Dashboard itself.
The team says more third-party integrations from services like IFTTT are on the way.
“We’re looking at anything that makes sense right now,” Rose said. “A great example is receipts — what we want to do is if you need to file expenses, it would be super simple just to be able to tap that overflow menu. We’re looking at Expensify, we’re looking at Concur, and just across the board, what are all the things we can do.”
Minus the third-party integrations, Dashboard is quite similar to how Google offers up relevant information in Inbox. Inbox, however, doesn’t offer a traditional approach to email, and turns it into more of a task-oriented activity.
Your regular emails in Alto, however, are still accessible quickly underneath the Dashboard. Once you close it, you’ll find the familiar email layout complete with customizable swipe actions, “Stacks” or folders to categorize your emails, access to multiple accounts, multi-language support, and more.
Updated on 12-15-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news about Slack and Alexa integrations with Alto.