AOL’s Alto Mail is about to get a whole lot smarter. The company has announced that the app will now have full calendar integration — which means that you’ll now be able to use one single app to manage your emails and calendar. Using the calendar view in the app, you’ll be able to view your day, week, or month — just like you would with a standalone calendar app, but without the need for another calendar-specific app.
“You have personal appointments, business meetings, packages being delivered, emails that need responses, and a flight leaving tonight that you booked months ago,” said Alto General Manager Arlo Rose. “All of this critical information is scattered across multiple personal and business inboxes and calendars, so you’re left hopping around a bunch of apps, trying to piece together your day. Alto puts an end to all of that.”
Alto has had a history of supporting Amazon Alexa and now that Alto has a calendar feature, you’ll be able to ask Alexa on your Echo about events on your calendar. Alto is actually only the second calendar app to support Alexa — with the only other being Google Calendar.
Alto smart hacks
Alto has been adding new features every few months for a while now. Previously, it was announced that the email client will now incorporate a series of “hacks” that can help enhance the email experience for users.
Alto already scans emails for things like flight reservations and package deliveries so it can help surface that information if and when you need it. Alto surfaces that new information in two ways — through the Alto Dashboard and through what Alto is calling “Alto Stacks.” Alto is now looking into ways to incorporate that information into other apps — like Slack and AppleTV.
Already, Alto’s information shows up in the Alto Dashboard, which basically gives a single view across all inboxes, and then surfaces important information in “cards.” With the Slack “hack,” however, users could add a Slack channel as a “stack” inside of Alto, so all your conversations will be in the same place. On the Apple TV, you could bring in things like images from Alto — which would authenticate through a QR code on your Apple TV.
Last but not least is Shop/Book Again, which helps you make a repeat purchase through services like Amazon — straight from Alto. You could also check out your entire shopping history in Alto, and resurface past purchases when you need them. That’s pretty helpful for items that are bought regularly — like diapers, if you’re a parent.
The hacks themselves don’t feature in Alto just yet — but they’re the kind of thing that will start showing up in Alto in the future.
You can also 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 in for 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.”
Updated on 05-24-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added news of Alto calendar and Alexa integration.