The Daily App: Cloze -- An Inbox With a Human Touch
Bombarded with messages from e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and more? Too much "noise" coming at you online? Cloze corrals everything into one place, promising to bring simplicity and order to communications that frazzle us all too easily.
What's the App?
Cloze is a free iOS app that pulls all your e-mail and social media messages into one inbox. You can combine all your address books into one place, so if you've ever scrambled to e-mail someone you only know on Facebook, it makes it easier to contact everyone.
Getting started is simple: you sign up for a Cloze account through the app or on the Web. Then you add your e-mail and social media accounts, a painstaking process depending on how many of them you have. After adding them, it analyzes your inboxes to decide who your key people are, a process that can take a few minutes or even a few days, depending on how large your accounts are.
Once it's done, though, it shuffles the most important messages into a "Key People" tab so you have priority access to their information. It learns who's important in your life and makes sure their messages are the first ones you see.
It also organizes messages into "Bulk Mail" and "Other Mail" tabs, and offers a "Losing Touch" tab to keep you aware of those you've previously corresponded with but haven't heard from in a while.
Within the messages themselves, you can reply or mark them as done, or you can bookmark the message for later. Then it'll pop back on your radar with a reminder later, so you can either address it or file it away. The app also offers a "Cloze Score," a metric that measures how close your relationships are through e-mail and social media. It analyzes how frequent, deep and fresh your conversations are, and the score tells you what relationships are thriving or flagging. Overall, it promises to make your inbox "human again," instead of the sprawling source of stress and annoyance it can become.
Cloze gets a lot of things right. The use of beautiful images is really a pleasure to look at, and the rich, dynamic design doesn't sacrifice usefulness. The navigation is difficult to wade through at first, but you can pick it up easily after a few interactions.
But the promise to make your inbox "human" is also somewhat ironic, since it relies on algorithms and data analysis to find who you want to hear from and it's hard to add data through the app to customize your experience.
For instance, you can't manually add people to your "Key People" tab, which limits its value. My boyfriend doesn't often send me e-mail since he mainly texts me, so the app failed to include him as one of my key contacts. But no matter how sporadically he sends an e-mail, those messages are still important. You can go the website to login and adjust your key people, but that defeats the purpose of a seamless, insightful inbox experience.
You'll Want It If...
You're tired of scrambling between social media apps and sites as well as various inboxes to keep your messages straight, and need a quick, at-a-glance snapshot of what's going on without having to open several different programs. Cloze reduces a good amount of friction and helps you keep on top of your communications.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
But if you're looking for a nice tool to manage your mailboxes, Cloze won't work. You really can't use folders, labels, stars, and you can't move messages within the app -- you can only mark them as done or save them for later, forcing you to go elsewhere to take care of any organizational tasks. The real value is letting you quickly access messages and glance through your social media in one place. It'll help you stay on top of important relationships and give you a way of looking at information -- but won't help you organize or manage it.
If you're looking for an all-in-one inbox with more robust functions, take a look at Mailbox, though you'll need to "wait in line" -- about two weeks -- to activate its service.
Cloze has great promise, and it'll prove even more useful as it adds more features and refinements to its data analysis. It's beautifully designed and well-executed, and with Cloze score, it may even help you improve how you keep up relationships over e-mail and social media. But as much as it wants to cement relationships in the digital age, it fails to account for the complexity of communication. You can't quantify everything with an algorithm, especially when it comes to judging true intimacy between human beings. ♦
Categories: Productivity | The Daily App