Can New APIs Bring Email into the 21st Century?

Over the past several years, apps and platforms have become increasingly interconnected though APIs, making our online lives that much easier, whether we’re leaving a comment on a blog, doing our taxes, syncing photos or registering for new services.


HP_IMAP_fb.jpgAnd then there’s email, which operates almost in its own world, tenuously connected to the larger internet through hyperlinks.


A big part of email’s standoffishness has to do with protocols. IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), one of the most popular email protocols, was originally developed in 1986, when Top Gun led the box office, and simply doesn’t support the interconnection, functionality or advanced permissions management found in newer APIs.


That’s about to change, however. At its 2014 I/O Conference, Google announced a beta Gmail API, and just this week, startup Inbox unveiled an open-source email API that it hopes will make it easier to develop for email and to incorporate email data into other apps. What this will mean for email in the long run remains to be seen, but you could soon see apps interacting with email in ways they never have before, automatically grabbing tracking numbers out of shipping notifications, unifying communications between email and other platforms or collecting invoices for smoother expense reporting.


How do you think a modern, robust API could change email for the better? Let us know in the comments!


Labels: APIs| IMAP| Top Gun
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