Microsoft aims to eliminate email search frustrations

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The new project, called Email Insights, was developed to make searching for emails easier whenever you use Outlook or Gmail. Searching through a full email box can be frustrating. There are numerous variables to consider when searching, such as the sender, send date, topic, as well as spelling variations in names. No one, not even search engine Gurus at Google, has managed to come up with a good way to address the shortcomings of email searches.

email-insights-screenshot-intent-paneThe Microsoft Garage, Microsoft’s outlet for experimental projects, thinks it has solved the problem in its latest release: Email Insights, an app for Windows 10 Anniversary Edition that indexes emails from Outlook and Gmail and tries to make searching them easy.

microsoft-garage-2-640x0How Microsoft plans to make email searches a bit more insightful

owa_autocompletelistMicrosoft senior research director Suresh Parthasarathy sums up the team’s strategy very simply: It wants to duplicate the consistency of a search engine.

“It is not just the algorithms, but about the user experience. We present a novel browser-like email experience that feels lightweight and works just like web search.” The web search backbone is, even more, seeming with the conclusion of auto complete, spell checking, and even the inclusion of an “intent pane” that looks a lot like a Google featured snippet.

Email Insights is also programmed with “fuzzy” name recognition, which will suggest appropriate spellings based on your email history and the contents of your inbox.

It can also reportedly abstract more than just names, according to Parthasarathy. “A user need not remember all the exact keywords and spellings for their queries,” he said. “The idea is to remove the cognitive load of a user while searching.”  Essentially fulfilling the same role as a traditional search engine.

The app also provides taskbar-pinnable search field, further separating it from the typical email client.

Who can benefit from Email Insights?

Email Insights is designed to separate the user from the email inbox, so if you find yourself frustrated at Gmail or Outlook you are right in app’s target audience.

Finally, to be clear, Email Insights is not a full-featured email client replacement for Gmail or Outlook: It is designed as a companion to make using both of them simpler. Developers say that Email Insights’ search algorithm is perfect, that they claim it may make its way into future versions of Outlook. Email Insights is currently a Windows 10 Anniversary Edition-exclusive, and it only supports Gmail and Outlook accounts. If you meet those criteria you can download to start experiencing the feeling of freedom from an untidy inbox.

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