Aug 02

Rapportive: A fantastic social email service with fantastic service!

Tech with tags: , , 2 Comments »


I can’t tell you how much I love Rapportive, the service that makes Gmail better by taking away the ads, and adding in useful information about the sender (teh social).

I have played with “social email” type plugins before, but they always tried to do too much, and rarely anything useful. Email is important to people. You tend to live in it. So, if you have an “add-on” the best thing to do is to quietly whisper useful information into the email users ear as they go about their business.

Once you install Rapportive, your email life instantly changes for the better. When I get an email from someone new I suddenly get a face to the name (via the profile picture), a feel for who they are (from their social updates), and more.

There are other fun side effects. I have had a few spammers de-cloaked for example. In general I feel like I have a leg up in a new conversation. Email feels different to me. I would hate to have it taken away…. which is a great sign.

The team behind Rapportive is equally awesome. They came from the great hacker dojo of Y Combinator, and other investors have come in behind that…. including Mr. Gmail himself.

The reason that I am actually writing this email though, is their service on behalf of their service.

There are a series of emails that I get that come from the same email. A lot of them fall into my “notifications” tag: Follows from Twitter, messages from Facebook, comments from Wordpress, plans from Plancast, etc.


Until recently, Rapportive hadn’t really done much for me there. Then, the team started to show information from the website of some of the companies behind these messages. I then reached out and said, what I really wanted was more meat that could be gleaned from the email. My use case was Twitter. When someone follows me, the more info I have on them, the more likely I am to follow them back. Twitter improved their template email a few weeks back (although for some reason it seems to have reverted for me recently?) but they don’t put in recent tweets from the person. I can see why: spammers would LOOOOOVE that feature. However, I would love to see it as I decide if I should reciprocate the follow! Rapportive could dip into the email content, parse out the fact that @foo has followed me, and show me their Tweets.

I don’t even think it was a full 24 hours later, and @rahulvohra their CEO, let me know that the feature was in place. I tested it…. and it was.

How about that for service.

ps. I love that Rapportive is an extensible platform. You can write “Rapplets” which are plugins for that right bar. E.g. load in Crunchbase information. I do find that some of these bug me when they say “Bob not found on …” when I would rather just not see anything.

I have a bunch of ideas for Rapplets, and after the great response from the team, I have every incentive to writeup thoughts on how to make the service better too. If you use Gmail, you should get this plugin.

pps. It is great timing for someone to build this service. We have had good ole microformats for awhile, and now with Web Finger integration here and there, let alone various services that key off of email, it is coming together that you can actually get a lot of good info based on just an email address.

Mar 20

It’s just my email password…

Tech with tags: , , 3 Comments »


I couldn’t help but interrupt someone at the coffee shop as I saw them giving their Gmail username and password into some random third party system to “grab your contacts”.

I get why sites have been doing this, but now we have the Google Contacts API there shouldn’t be the need.

What astounded me was the logic that this fellow used. He talked about how he used really good, different passwords, and never kept them in his email, so if the third party site was malicious they wouldn’t get anything good.

He didn’t seem to realize that by giving away the key to your email account, you are doing a LOT more than letting someone look at that email to your mum. With it, they have the keys to your forgot password? life. They can quickly go to accounts that you have all over the shop, simulate a forgotten password use case, and now they DO have access to your account info.

It isn’t about what is in your email before hand, it is the access to future email that matters.

This is why I was over the moon when the contacts API saw the light of day, and I hope to see all providers do similar work.

Oct 24

Gmail now supports IMAP

Google, Tech, iPhone with tags: , , , 4 Comments »

I was really excited when I logged in to Gmail and saw the new settings:

Gmail Imap

I think this is my number one feature request for Gmail, so it is great to see it role out. Since Gmail is tag/label based, it isn’t as easy to implement IMAP as it may seem, so good job dev team!

The reason that I personally care is that I have been able to do this for my corporate account:

And now, I can finally do the same for my personal email account. Check out the automatic labels that you get.