Alto is a web-based email client that syncs all your Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Apple accounts into one inbox

AOL used to be a giant, providing one of the largest (if not the largest) dial-up service in the early to mid 2000s. AOL took a nose dive once broadband took over and since then AOL has been working hard to rebrand itself as a Web 2.0 company. A recent rebranding step involves Alto, a new web-based email client by AOL that wants to win you over with functionality and aesthetics.

At the basic level, Alto is a web-based email client that allows you to receive all your Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Apple (iCloud) e-mails in one inbox. All you need to do is sign into your Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and iCloud accounts from your Alto account and you are good to go — you can now use Alto to send and receive e-mails to/from those accounts. If you have multiple accounts of the same service, such as Gmail, you can setup Alto to use them all, if you wish. Do take note, however, Alto currently has a limit of five email accounts per user, so you can import multiple emails from the same service but in total you can import only five.

(Note: Alto may not with Google Apps emails. When I tried to sign up for an invite with my Google Apps email, I was told it is not supported. I’m not sure if this same message appears once you have an Alto account or if it is for the invite-only stage.)

Beyond the basics, Alto aims to win you over with its aesthetically pleasing, clean, and modern design. Indeed the interface of Alto is very much focused on helping you enjoy reading your e-mails, although I would argue it doesn’t work well for the purposes of efficiency (maybe on a touchscreen device, but not a traditional mouse-and-keyboard system). In addition to the aesthetics, Alto has an automatic email sorting feature that sorts emails into “stacks” based on the content of emails —  “attachments, photos, daily deals, notifications from social networks and bulletins from retailers”. Users are even allowed to create their own stacks and specify what keywords, from addresses, to addresses, etc. to use to sort emails in the custom stacks.

Unfortunately, Alto is invite-only at this time and I have yet to receive an invite so I can only tell you what I read about Alto as opposed to testing it myself. Once I do get an invite, however, I will take it for a spin and report back if Alto is anything interesting. If you want to join me on the waiting list, hit up the link below.

Alto homepage

[via Engadget]

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7 comments

  1. J.L.

    @Ed: My mistake, never really looked into it.

    You’re assuming my important e-mails are going to be aggregated. I actually have more than 2 accounts, and willing to get more.

    Chances are, you’ve never heard of erasing, wiping, shredding, or zeroing out. I’ll give you the easiest example. You don’t need more than 1 pass/overwrite, and that’s for unencrypted data outside of theoretical paranoia. Remember, more passes = more writes = shorter life.

    Plus you’re assuming I trust AOL. That’s not true.

    I can feed your paranoia with an easy lesson on encryption as well. Proof.

    I’m also regarded as paranoid, but never to myself. Knowledge = power, although I hate required education…

  2. Ed

    @J.L.:

    I certainly can, MS Outlook Online is an online email client, not that I use it, but like I said, who really needs yet another email client?

    Why in the world woluld you entrust inportant emails to an online email client? We all no that absolutely nothing on the web is secure, so your important emails and info are just out there for the taking.

    At least when I import all my emails to my MS Outlook installed on my own system, I then back up the impotant ones on REMOVEABLE media then I proceed to delete the rest both in outlook and online …… everything is gone, nothing can be recovered , well essentially gone, emails on the web are there forever whether you realize it or not, whether you delete them or not, but f I delete the webmail, chance are VERY slim there is anyone out there except the owner of the email server, CIA or FBI that can recover them. This I can accept, because unless I am involved in illegal activites, chances are once that online email is deleted it is gone forever.

    If I don’t backup my emails, then that is my own fault, but there are those that will use this service and backup nothing at all, what will happen when the Alto email server goes down or crashes?

    Also I would think ones ISP email server will be at least 75 to 80% more secure than Alto because you know as well as I that there are those out there that are foaming at the mouth to make a point to AOL.

    Call me paranoid, call me whatever you like, I’ve made calls like this before, this one, whether it be Alto or any other online email client cannot turn out pretty. Stick to your own installed office program, back it up and leave nothing on the web.

  3. Ed

    I didn’t want anything associated with AOL in the 90’s, 2000’s and certainly not now.
    I used their dial up services in the early 90’s and their 4.0 browser for maybe a day, all it was to me was kiddie candy and bloatware. I dumped their browser and just used their dial up numbers to connect and surfed with IE, I never looked at anything AOL thereafter.
    Anything AOL has designed in the past has always been notariously bloatware.
    Who needs another email client …… really? I have all my web accounts which I can read and prune online then those accounts are linked to my MS Office Outlook account which I then can download all my pruned email accounts into.
    AOL is a sinking ship and is struggling to do anything to stay alive on the web. Like an old athlete that refuses to call it quits, they will go down miserably.

  4. naveed

    Nice looking UI from from the screenshots.

    But they don’t support Opera! and yet they support IE! Shame on them! There’s almost no additional overhead to support Opera, and I don’t have to mention the overhead in supporting IE. They’re probably just being very lazy and white-listing browsers.

  5. Bull

    the semi-new microsoft Outlook.com email service, also lets you recieve your other emails from other sources into one inbox as well.

    Personally i haven’t tried it, on account i like to keep my emails separate, but a few i know who have, say it works great.