I spend a lot of time in my inbox. Dealing with the hundreds of pitches, follow-ups, and angry emails I get each day is basically a full-time job. I really wish that wasn’t the case though, but until someone builds an app that deports tech publicists to a land where there’s no Internet, and the words “hope you’re well” are punishable by death, it’s my cross to bear.
Or then again, maybe not. Enter Boomerang. We covered this email tool way back in 2010. Its schtick was you could control when you send and receive email. I kinda love that idea; work-life balance is important, but smartphones have pretty much entirely undermined that idea.
Now, it’s introduced an AI assistant, which uses machine learning and NLP (natural language processing) tech to do much of the heavy sifting for you. Put simply, it reads your email for you, and tells you what it thinks you’ll care about, leaving the irrelevant chaff and garbage marketing emails to one side.
Boomerang now has a little microphone icon. When you tap that and say “brief me,” the app takes you to a briefing page, which contains highlights from your inbox, along with some analytics. It’ll show you, for example, how long it’d take you to clear your inbox, if you made a concerted decision to sit down and play catch-up.
Scroll down, and you’ll see relevant highlights. I was actually really impressed with what Boomerang thought I’d be interested in. It was all pretty spot-on, although that’s largely because it’s based on my personal usage patterns, like the emails I choose to open, and the ones I ultimately reply to.
Boomerang also highlights relevant passages from emails. I was really impressed with how this worked. On one email inviting me to an event in London, the passage selected contained the all the pertinent details of the event (like the name, address, and time). It pretty much skipped the “Hi, how are you, long time no speak” part.
That said, the accuracy of the voice recognition itself isn’t perfect. I tried asking Boomerang for our Editor-in-Chief, Alejandro Tauber’s, phone number. It thought I wanted “Ali Hondro’s” number. Perhaps it’s just my Northern English accent, but I don’t recall having a similar issue with Siri or Google Now.