It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and it’s a new app from Microsoft Garage. Microsoft Garage has given us an SMS Organizer, a fancy Clipboard, an app that helps the colour-blind, and even an Android lock screen.
Today, it’s giving us a faster and easier way to search through our inboxes.
Email Insights is a lightweight app for the desktop that can search through your Outlook or Gmail account with some extra-clever features. The app has an extremely quick auto-complete feature, an advanced spell check as well as fuzzy name search. It’s like Google or Bing search, but for your email.
That’s no coincidence; Suresh Parthasarathy, a senior research developer at Microsoft Research India’s Applied Sciences team, and part of the team that developed Email Insights says that the team “wanted to make email searches like web searches.”
“It is not just about the algorithms, but about the user experience. We present a novel browser-like email experience that feels lightweight and works just like web search,” he continues.
Parthasarathy, Priyan Vaithilingam, Raghavendra Udupa, and B. Ashok developed the application as a hackathon project. The team eventually turned it into a full-blown project.
Searching through thousands of emails can be tedious. A user might search for something with relevant keywords, but they would still have to go through the search results to find what they need.
Intent Pane makes it easier to do that by highlighting the top three most relevant results in a group. This group appears on top of the rest of results, removing the need to scroll – just like web search.
Once again taking a leaf out of the web experience, Email Insights allows users to make multiple search queries in individual tabs.
This would allow users to set up multiple filters and queries, which they can simply refresh to monitor changes. This feature could prove to be extremely useful for any power user.
The search box in Email Insights is not simply a search box. It’s also where users can execute a number of quick commands.
As an example, the box can be used to compose short one-line emails or scheduling a quick meeting.
Email Insights is available right now over here but does appear to require an invite.
Now, if only these advanced search features could be integrated into Outlook itself. Intent Pane could be a nice addition to the Outlook search, though the tabbed search queries should probably be reserved for the power users.