Rethinking the Mobile User Email Experience

You're standing in line or at a conference so you quickly check your email on your smartphone. Basically, you want to know what's new; what needs to be handled immediately; what can be deleted now and what can wait until back in the office. If it's something that you can put off until later, you probably have some trick to remind yourself. Then, you get back to your desk and find yourself making the same decisions over again. Sound familiar?

Current mobile email clients are often just smaller versions of desktop clients and assume a user will open, read and respond to a message in the same manner they would on a desktop or laptop. Through studying the behaviors of mobile users, IBM scientists are finding that mobile email usage differs greatly because of the environment and context in which it typically takes place. People are primarily focused on “triaging” what's in their inbox at that moment.

To help solve this common problem, computer scientists at IBM Research - Almaden have developed the IBM Mail Triage project. They have built a prototype application that rethinks the mobile email experience by allowing users to quickly "triage" their email and identify what needs immediate action and what can be handled later.

Here's how IBM Mail Triage works.

According to Jeff Pierce, the lead researcher on the IBM Mail Triage project, the project has grown out of ongoing research that attempts to understand how people use the technology devices in their lives – mobile phones, laptops, desktops, tablet computers, etc. -- and spread their computing time across them. He recently spoke at the Web 2.0 Expo about this research effort. It's great insight into what the project is all about.

And, you can also read a paper on the project here.

We'd like to hear what you want in your mobile email user experience.

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