By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm
Yesterday, I was all excited over Threadsy, the Web-based universal communications service that was one of my favorite launches at TechCrunch50. Shortly after I applied for an invite to the private beta, it arrived. So I’ve been using Threadsy–and while I’m still excited about its potential, the hands-on experience also reminds me what a daunting challenge the service’s developers have set for themselves.
As I mentioned yesterday, Threadsy divvies up communications into Inbound ones (missives directed specifically at you, be they Gmail messages, Twitter @replies or DMs, or Facebook messages) and Unbound ones (status updates from Twitter and Facebook). Besides integrating multiple streams of messages into one list, it creates one master address book, and tries to figure out if one person shows up multiple times in your various accounts. You can also IM from within Threadsy, although it seems to only support Google Talk.
Inbound messages are woven into one stream in a big window on the left, and Unbound ones are in a smaller area on the right. Here’s a screen image (click on it for a larger version):
I still love the idea of having one place to go for almost all my communications. But I discovered that Threadsy doesn’t yet support folders–or, in Gmail parlance, labels–which means that I can’t get at much of my Gmail from within Treadsy, and can’t organize the new stuff that comes in. The company says it’s working on fixing this; until it does, I can only use Threadsy as an adjunct to Gmail, not a replacement for it. And even once folders/labels are up and running, there’s lots of stuff in Gmail that Threadsy probably won’t be able to duplicate, such as Tasks, Stars, and Widgets. Despite interesting work by the likes of Zenbe, it’s probably impossible to be a better Gmail than Gmail.
One other quirk with the current version of Threadsy: When a status item shows up on multiple social networks–most likely because someone has set things up to broadcast it to both Twitter and Facebook–it shows up twice in Thready’s Unbound area:
You gotta think it wouldn’t be a huge technical challenge for Threadsy to figure out these messages are dupes, and to hide one of them, at least as an option.
Threadsy’s not only in beta, but private beta, so it’s entirely understandable that it’s a rough draft. I plan to keep an eye on it–if you check it out, tell us what you think.