Spike: The conversational email app
The app Spike, is revolutionizing how your inbox works and lets you turn your existing email into a chat. As workplaces become ever friendlier, the style in which colleagues communicate is also becoming more relaxed and less formal. Therefore, in many workplaces, employees will chat by email or find an app which works as an email messenger. There’s nothing wrong with mail chatting, but anyone who works with a large group of people will know how conversations can sometimes be hard to follow when chatting by email. If someone wants to send a GIF, does that really warrant a “reply all”? Another unread email in the inbox? In response to this issue, many companies have started to use a separate messaging app to cut down on the amount of emails needed. The issue here is that important work information sometimes gets lost in the stream of conversation, and among the plentiful emojis and GIFs that get sent too. It is also irritating to have lots of different apps and software, just to keep up with daily work. What we really need is a unified workspace that boosts stress-free productivity and encourages collaboration.
What is Spike?
Spike is an app which markets itself as having found the middle ground. Chatting with email is a natural part of a friendly workplace, but the chaos that can ensue is not helpful. Conversational email might just be the solution. Spike allows the user to chat without “clutter”: signatures, headers and endless threads. It is more people-centric, allowing you to organize your inbox according to people you work with. Something which makes instant messaging so appealing is the feeling that you are having one, flowing conversation with someone. You can scroll up to see what your last interaction was, even if that was a while ago. Similarly, Spike allows you to organize your conversations by contact person, which is much more organized than having threads displayed depending on when they arrived in your inbox. This means you’ll feel more like you’re in touch with an individual, rather than their inbox. This is Spike’s “people mode”, but you can also opt for the more traditional “inbox mode” if you wish. Spike categorizes emails as three types of so-called conversations. You can organize the messages by subject or people or stick to the traditional inbox format with an overview of “sent” messages.
What are the aims of Spike’s developers?
Spike’s developers had productivity, creativity and collaboration in mind when creating the workspace. This is reflected in Spike’s layout, as its focus is on colleagues, co-workers, clients and in fact, with any contact which can be seen in its “people mode”. This is where it begins to resemble instant messaging, but with a professional edge: the perfect balance between traditional emails and instant messaging. Furthermore, Spike aims to provide an app for chatting with email, and to cut down on the many apps workers often have to keep up with, whether in an office, or as a freelancer. Checking calendars, emails and messaging apps costs time, and can be confusing. Furthermore, switching between apps decreases our ability to focus on one task, meaning that we get used to being distracted, which can lead to being more stressed. Constantly refocusing our attention between apps and tasks is tiring, and decreases productivity. Spike combines communication and collaboration tools into one unified email messenger app, which streamlines the whole experience and increases productivity.
Another important aim was to improve the way teams collaborate, and clients communicate by simplifying team communication. This has been possible for a long time and is commonplace in almost every work environment. However, the degree to which this is enjoyable and efficient varies considerably. Spike’s developers cut out links and logins to make chatting by email an efficient way of working together. Spike distinguishes itself by promoting conversations between people over operational formality, finding a compromise between instant messaging and emailing, specifically calling for a rise in conversational email. Spike’s communication style is also part of a so-called open ecosystem. This means that even if one client chooses not to opt for Spike, you can still communicate with them over the app. Better still, you can still include them in Spike’s “Group” feature, and it cuts out the hassle of needing each client to use the same app; with several clients and several collaborative projects, we all know how frustrating this gets. Spike’s open ecosystem enables you to chat with email with everyone. But what is conversational email, exactly?
Conversational emailing: The sweet spot between instant messaging and emailing
There is of course a reason why email remains popular at the workplace. Professional and a good way to communicate with colleagues, the service is used in every serious company. If, however, you need to get a response quickly, you’ll know that despite your best efforts (high priority flagging; “URGENT!” in the subject line…), it might take a while for people to respond.
Generally speaking, it is also not possible to see when people are online, or when they’ve read your email. Furthermore, chatting with email is traditionally a bit cumbersome. If you need an immediate answer, you’re better off with an instant messaging service, and this is one of the main differences between email and instant messaging. It can be tricky to get someone’s attention on this channel because the many notifications for every chat can be confusing and overwhelming. But Spike’s clutter-free app overcomes these hurdles by meeting you in the middle between getting instant responses and professional communication in the workplace.
How does Spike work?
Unlike other collaboration tools, Spike is designed as an all-in-one solution. As previously mentioned, its conversational email style is an ideal mix of instant messaging efficiency and email professionalism. The email messenger threads themselves look a bit like well-known instant messaging services, with the emails being shown as bubbles in a chat-like format. The subject of the thread is displayed, as well as the names and thumbnail photos of the conversation participants - other than that, the focus is on the message being communicated. You can alter the mail chatting feature by selecting the message, and it shows you more information like a traditional email would.
You can use Spike with your existing email address – no need for yet another account for collaborations and group work. Furthermore, Spike's so-called open eco system means that even if your recipient does not use Spike to chat with email, the message will still go through. It is not dependent on a particular account or software.
One of Spike’s most keenly marketed functions is its ability to discern between “Priority” emails and “Other”. Indeed, this is a helpful function, because it allows you to get instant notifications regarding a deadline, for example, but to relate to less important tasks later when you have a moment. Organizing your inbox is often synonymous with deleting lots of emails and trawling through the endless conversations that have landed in your inbox the last few months. Priority Inbox aims to tackle this issue at the root of the problem, and prioritizes your emails automatically, without extra effort on your part. Notifications from social media, for example, are relegated to the “Other” inbox, so you can focus on your flow. If you don’t like the way it is done, you have the option to switch to an inbox which isn’t organized into “Priority” and “Other” emails.
Spike is not just an email service with an instant messaging aesthetic, however. The fact that you get instant notifications is an element taken from instant messaging and is part of what makes the app so helpful in increasing productivity. Just like texting and messaging services, Spike allows you to see when your email has been successfully sent, delivered, and read. The checkmark indicates the message has been sent, and a small green eye lets you know the recipient has read it. This ups the ante on your communication in the workplace, as people will want to respond knowing that you know they have read your email, and you can relax because you don’t need to fret about whether the person you’re contacting ever got your email.
Benefits and drawbacks of chatting with email
Chatting with email using Spike’s encouraged conversational style has the aforementioned benefit of balancing between emails and instant messaging. However, this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of chatting by email.
When working in a team, it is a bonus to be able to communicate in a friendly, open manner. Cutting out formalities such as signatures and email headers gives co-workers the feeling of being engaged with the task at hand. This could also increase productivity, because exchanges happen faster when chatting by email than they would on traditional email threads. Furthermore, if you are looking to communicate in a warm and inviting way, chatting with email lends itself more to this than the traditional “Dear…”.
However, don’t confuse increased productivity with increased stress levels. This association comes from the attempt to live up to the unrealistic expectation of total synchronization with all those you are in contact with. It is impossible to respond instantly to each message that arrives in your inbox from afar, and yet this is often how we try and be the most productive. Instant messaging gets a bad rap for demanding instant attention. Spike turns this around and helps you find your flow by switching off that “always on” mentality. Spike doesn’t lose the asynchronous quality of communication via email, meaning that both people don’t need to be online in order for the communication to work. It does, however, combine the benefits of snappier, instant-messaging style communication with the spaciousness of emailing.
Spike’s biggest marketing point may also be some people’s biggest turn off. If you are set to sticking with traditional email, and want company logos and headers to be displayed all the time then email messenger may not be for you. Spike does offer an Inbox mode, but perhaps the concept of people-centric communication isn’t for you. Spike encourages relaxed and open communication, and while this does not mean it cannot be formal, the focus is on personal communication, rather than operational aspects. Those who do not want to make this their focus may see this as a drawback of chatting with email.
Spike is packed with lots of features, making it an ideal candidate for an all in one solution, which requires it to go beyond the other apps people may already have. Let’s look at the email messenger app’s most important features.
- Priority Inbox: You’ll be familiar with this concept already, and it has become an essential feature of any email client. If you’re prone to being distracted by those frequent social media or marketing emails, Spike’s Priority Inbox will help you focus on the task at hand.
- Groups: File sharing in a group email has never been smooth. All it takes is one “reply all” and the attachment is harder to find in the email thread. You can manage several group emails in one app and share files as part of the conversation. The best bit? Your clients who don’t use Spike can still be part of the group conversation – no more switching between apps for different clients.
- Improved Search Function: Ever find yourself searching for ages to find one small detail sent in an email weeks ago? Perhaps it is important for your client care to find this forgotten detail – yet the task can be laborious. Spike lets you search by contact or keyword to find what you need.
- Powerful Encryption: Data security is a hot topic for a good reason. Spike has AES256 encryption to protect your communication.
- File Manager: See a preview of attached files within the emails, including photos, PDFs, GIFs, spreadsheets and videos.
- Calendar: Collect all the digital calendars you have into one display, so you have a clear overview of your schedule. It works with loads of options, including Apple Calendar, Google Calendar, and Facebook. Spike’s calendar offers a unified view of all of your different accounts. This not only decreases the chances of you missing an appointment because it isn’t in your main calendar, but also means that you don’t need to go to the trouble of checking a different app each time you need to check your schedule. It’s all there in one app.
- Dark Mode: A feature focused on wellbeing and the environment. By enabling dark mode, you will ease eye strain and save on power, increasing battery life on mobile devices (see next point).
- Mobile Office: If you like working in a co-working space, from home, or in an office, you can access Spike on all devices. Furthermore, you can also use Spike on your personal laptop or phone, so if you BYOD, you can access everything you need from either work devices, or your own.
- Audio and Video Calls: Spike users can call one another one-to-one to clarify something quickly and simply.
- Snooze: This feature is very popular, and for good reason. In a busy day-to-day, you may not be able to respond to all the messages you get at once. Instead of making a mental note, or indeed going to the effort of making a physical one, you can opt to “snooze” important messages so you can relate to them later. This can be done for individual messages, or entire threads, depending on what is needed.
Spike is available for free, and as a paid option. For free, you get unlimited personal user accounts, up to 100k messages, and be part of up to 10 group chats. The email encryption and audio and video calls are also all included, as well as basic email support. However, this may not be enough for someone using Spike on a professional level, which is, after all, what it is designed for. A Pro account costs around $6 a month on an annual scheme and has all the features of the free account, except that the restrictions on the searchable message history and group chats are lifted and are unlimited. You also get priority support and one custom domain account, which is much more organized than having threads displayed depending on when they arrived in your inbox.
What exactly makes Spike Pro more professional? Other than the improved capacity of features, you can also use a custom domain. This means that you can use your own professional email address for client communication, such as “firstname.lastname@example.org”. A custom domain boosts your company image, and with Spike Pro you can use one custom domain account.
Spike’s Pros and Cons
Having looked at the main features Spike has to offer, it may be useful to compare the pros and cons of messenger email. Here’s a helpful overview table:
|✔ Declutters your inbox and consolidates all your productivity apps into one
|✘ The free version allows a maximum of 10 group chats
|✔ No new email required, just sign in via your current email
|✘ Traditional formalities such as signatures are dropped, which may not appeal to all
|✔ Open eco system, i.e. not everyone needs Spike to get involved
|✘ Voice and video calls are only available to those who do use Spike
|✔ You can sign in with multiple accounts if you already have lots of different emails
|✘ No dark theme for desktop
|✔ Warm, friendly communication encouraged
|✔ The app is multilingual, supporting English, Catalan, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish