My first impressions of HEY for work

I received my HEY for work invite a little while ago, and wanted to share my first impressions of the service with you.

So if you’ve had your head in the tech news at all during the last few months you’ll probably have heard of HEY. I first became aware of HEY through the Rework podcast and was instantly intrigued. However I wouldn’t be surprised if you first heard of it in the great Apple vs. HEY debate.

I would encourage you to read about the issues raised by Basecamp regarding their HEY email service on Apple’s ecosystem. It’s an interesting highlight of a wider problem regarding the anti-competitive actions of Big Tech. Which I believe are namely Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. A lot of the topics really deserve some consideration for the future of our digital services. However that’s outside the scope of this article.

Back to HEY. So my initial intrigue led me to search for more information. At the time there were various snippets floating about, but the website was disappointingly limited to a coming soon affair. However I eventually came across the Take a tour of HEY video on YouTube with Jason Fried leading the walk-through. It’s a great example of a no BS product demonstration.

Watching the video was a fairly captivating affair, listening to a whole new take on email, how it’s productivity and security could be improved. And they were putting down a fairly big claim.

Email sucked for years. Not anymore — we fixed it. HEY’s fresh approach transforms email into something you want to use, not something you’re forced to deal with.

My first impressions with the free trial

As you can likely tell from my ramblings above I had some excitement about this new service. So when HEY for you became available I took the opportunity to try out the 14 day free trial. That gave me an email with the opportunity to claim it for $99 per year. Which isn’t an unreasonable cost compared to Microsoft Exchange. However the lack of a custom domain is lacking, particularly when you can get one with Gmail for a cheaper price.

Custom domains aside, my first impressions were positive. It was a modern and clean UI, a far cry from most email clients. This instantly helped to provided a more premium feel.

One of the more noticeable differences was the clear separation between the New for You and Previously seen sections. Meaning you aren’t going to miss new emails coming in as time passes, assuming you screen them in.

Perhaps one of HEY’s biggest selling points is it’s fight against privacy, including spam, and pixel trackers. So they give you the option to screen in or out new email senders. It’s very simple, and it’s satisfying to know I can stop all email from unwanted senders with a single click.

The other key concept of HEY which I really enjoyed was the option to split emails into 3 distinct types. Those that are important and should land in your Imbox (not a typo, that’s how HEY spells it), newsletters which drop into your Feed, and transactional items like receipts that go into the Paper Trail.

I found the feed particularly helpful. It was a great way to catch up on all the content I actually subscribe too and want to read. And it’s presented in a semi open, easy to browse manner, much like your typical social feeds.

Ultimately though I didn’t make much use of my trial over the 14 day period. I hadn’t particularly realised just how many of my interactions with family and friends have now moved onto social channels.

So for the time being that was it.

Moving my business email over to HEY

Fast forward a couple of months and HEY for work was announced, with the service launching mid Q1 2021 I believe. Soon after the announcement invites were available.

With HEY for work providing custom domains, email aliases, and more I decided to signup for an invite. I liked the concept of HEY, and felt that there was more I could get out of it from a business perspective. After all, email was the main communication channel for my freelance work as a web developer.

When the invite came through in mid January, I decided it was going to be an all or nothing affair. I believed that whilst I hadn’t gotten the best out of HEY personally I was going to put everything into trying it for work. So upon receiving my invite I setup my account, and once I had finished working for the day I moved my MX records over. That was it I was now on HEY for work. No more Gmail.

The positives

It’s been an improved experience so far compared to both Hey for you and Gmail. I’ve made use of significantly more features, and found them good in assisting my workflow.

Reply later has been great for stacking up emails where I need to respond but don’t currently have the time. And works well with their Focus and Reply workflow where you can bash out multiple emails in one go.

Grabbing clips from emails is also particularly useful so I’m not searching for important snippets of information all the time. The same can also be said of the useful organisation of attachments when viewing a contacts page, or the All Files section. No longer do I need to sift through email chains to find that one PDF or document.

I’m not going to list out all the features here. You can go and check those out on their website or in the free trial.

The negatives

There are a few niggles. I can’t import my old emails from Gmail. However a fresh start is also kind of nice. There is currently no calendar integration so I’ll see how I get on with that.

As Gmail was part of Googles Business G Suite, I still have lots of information, data, content etc within that eco system. Which includes Google Drive, the Calendar, and my Gmail archive. So I am continuing to pay for Gsuite alongside the $12 a month for HEY.

Final thoughts

It’s clear that HEY’s email is quite opinionated, but that’s not a bad thing. I quite like their approach.

The whole experience from the first introduction to where I am now has been a good example of on point branding, identity and communication from HEY’s part.

HEY’s biggest selling point is it’s difference from traditional email, it’s fight for privacy, and productivity. But it’s opinionated approach is also likely to be it’s biggest con. So many of us are used to operating in a communication platform where there has been no real innovation for a very long time, which makes the prospect of change quite startling.

It’s definitely not going to be for everyone. You’ll have to try it and let me know what you think. For now though I am going to carry on with it.

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