Microsoft Outlook’s e-mail is the behemoth in the legal world. Lawyers who don’t use it are likely using one of Microsoft’s free products (Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail) or going directly to their Web e-mail. Inky is a new e-mail application that installs on Windows and Mac and provides an attractive alternative for those not using Outlook.
Inky describes itself as cloud-enabled. It’s a bit confusing because you don’t actually do anything on their site. Once you install Inky (octopus logo!), you tell it how to access your Web mail or other e-mail servers. It automatically loaded settings for both Google Mail and Yahoo! Mail, which is now common among e-mail clients, including Zimbra and Thunderbird. It also picked up my own mail server, which has custom settings, and this impressed me because I added 3 accounts without actually configuring anything.
The cloud element of Inky appears to be entirely a processing function. They store your Inky password on their site, but it is encrypted. Their FAQ says that their staff can access neither your password nor information about your e-mail. When you open Inky on your computer, the cloud servers synchronize what you see on your computer with what’s in your e-mail accounts.
I am really attracted to the interface. It’s exceptionally clean – it reminded me of the very crisp MetroTwit twitter client – and the layout is intuitive. The default view is a unified inbox. As you can see below in the Windows client, the feel is very much of a modern Web site. There is a scrolling icon bar on the left with clear flags for new messages. The icons either use a product logo, for Google Mail for example, or common icons for things like Compose Mail (envelope with pencil). When you click the inky logo at the top left corner, the menu widens to give you full labels.
I really liked the drop down menus at the top where I could quickly switch to view just unread e-mail or go to a specific account. If you leave the inbox and view just the Google Mail account, you will have a folder list at the top that reflects your inbox and other Google Mail labels.
The compose mail view is also clean and easy to use. If you are using Web mail, you’ll find the toolbar similar to the options in Google, Yahoo!, or Outlook.com Web mail sites. It will access your contact list for auto-filling the address and you can send from any of your configured accounts.
It lacks the integration with calendars and other tools that products like Microsoft Outlook and Thunderbird offer. On the other hand, it has some additional filtering tools to automatically flag mail as a subscription, for example, and have an icon on the left menu show you when you have new messages that apply. You can’t customize what goes in to these so you may still want to rely on setting filters in your Web mail account and having e-mail sorted into folders before you access it with Inky.
It’s hard to know where Inky is going, since it’s a free application and very new. If you need a lightweight, easy to read and use e-mail client, Inky will fit your bill.