HEY.com Review

hey.com is a new email provider. They believe that email has a bad "rap". They want to fix email.

Obviously we all got email wrong. At least that's what hey.com is telling us. I was following the development of hey.com for quite some time and was very interested. Today I registered an account at hey.com. You can only register $something@hey.com. For me this is always a concern because it's possible that you can lose your address. You just don't have control over this domain. As of today one can say it was safe to register an @aol.com address simply because they are still working. The same can be said of gmail.com, me.com and icloud.com. But still, for me this is a concern. Also if you are on the trial track @hey.com and decide not to pay for the upgrade they are giving away your address. Someone else can register your address. Ok, it's unlikely that you will go for the 14 day trial, decide not to pay and then use this address for something serious. Also this is probably a measure to weed out accounts that just take up space and/or addresses. Except: if you pay for the upgrade once, then your email address will be locked forever. You can also set up forwarding to some other address then (which will work for as long as hey.com will exist).

So I wanted to register asi@hey.com. I couldn't. Well, I could if I have won the lottery. Sort of.

hey.com premium

I am just hating this. Domain registries do this as well. Googles *.dev tld e.g. does the same. If you want a catchy name, well, they "mark" it as "premium" and you have to pay extra. A lot extra. Ok, I get it, they want to make money. But speaking of first-time user experience this is just bad. You are basically telling your customer to f*ck off. I mean, I haven't even tried their product at all and all they got to say is "nope, you cannot do this, except if you pay us a lot more for the very same product". I was about to give up their product offering by then. However, I was curious enough to choose a different email address that doesn't cost extra (yay :/). Just to get a look at it. And this is important to note! I already changed my mind. I really wanted to use their product but by pissing me off so early I already changed my mind completely. Isn't it funny.

Speaking of "funny", their whole site seems to be "funny". After I registered I got into my Imbox. Yes, this isn't a typo. They named their inbox Imbox. Wait waht? (I can invent new words as well).

Imbox, because:
Your Imbox is where important, immediate emails go from people or services you care about.
Ohhhkay. Im...portant, im...mediate. Got it, IMbox. The important "box".

After the "Imbox" shock I noticed I already had several emails to read. All from hey.com telling me how to use their product. I don't like this. No one does. No one will. Users like to explore a product. A product doesn't need explanations. If it does, it's probably bad. But I did read their emails. It was hard.

They also showed me some introductory concepts. The Screener...yeah. Imagine a deep smoky voice saying "The Screener".

The Screener

I actually like "The Screener". It's an additional spam layer so to say. If someone is sending you an email you can decide to accept or deny emails from that sender (once). You can act as a doorman so to say. I don't know if it'll work if your email address is spread across several spam lists. They do have a spam filter as well. These two combined might be working well.

Reply later? This is another feature of hey.com. A feature I would call "ignore" named differently. Seriously, if you are reading an email and decide to reply to it later, it's the same as ignoring it. Or perhaps I'm not the person to reply later. These "reply later" emails attach to the bottom of your view. They stack up like this:

reply later

There are two emails stacked up to be "ignored" later. I'm not sure...however, if you click on these stacked emails, they turn into a nice list:

reply later stacked up

Their UI is nice. It's refreshing. I actually like it. A lot. I mean look at it!

hey.com Email conversation

And this is how it looks like when you are writing a new mail:

writing an email

Another useful feature seems "Clips". You can select text in your emails and save the selection as "clips":

save a clip

You can access all your saved clips later:

all your clips

If you click one of the clips you will get to the email where you saved the clip from.

Also: their UI loads very quickly. It does contain Javascript. I couldn't spot any obvious tracking code.

Missing features: I couldn't find any information on email aliases. It seems you just can't set up any alias. For me this is a security problem. An email address is half the login information. You can receive foo+bar@hey.com emails though. However, this is not the same as email aliases. Currently there's a bug when you are receiving an email with the +-sign. When you click "reply", you will also reply to yourself.

hey.com bug

Here I replied to foo+bar@hey.com and *@gmail.com. Makes no sense. I basically replied to myself... I didn't but it's displayed like I did.

By replying to "myself" a contact with "myself" was created as well:

hey.com bug

You can see that they created a contact protoblood+test@hey.com and clearly don't think that this is "me".

Gmail like dot-email addresses don't work at hey. So if your email address is foobar@gmail.com you can send an email to foo.bar@gmail.com and it will arrive at foobar@gmail.com. Sure enough this isn't a standard. So if your hey address is foobar@hey.com you can't send an email to foo.bar@hey.com. It's not a dealbreaker, just something I tried. It doesn't work.

I encountered another problem when using hey.com. Whenever I login it opens up my "default applications" preferences on Windows 10. It wants me to set the default email application to something differently. Why? I want to use the web application. I downloaded the "native" Windows app but it's basically a chrome frame. I don't need a whole webbrowser just to display a frame. I can use the webbrowser that's already open.

Security features? 2fa. That's basically it. S/MIME? no. PGP? no. TLS transport encryption? yes. Yubikey like login? yes.

Their stand on end-to-end encryption?
We accept that end-to-end encryption is not a realistic goal for mainstream email service.
So they aren't offering it at all. To me this makes no sense and just seems like a poor excuse not to invest time in a feature few people would be using.

The price tag is quite high. They are asking 99 USD / year. 349 USD / year if you want a short email address. 999 USD / year if you want an even shorter email address. You will need a credit card to pay. No Paypal as of now.

I'll pass.

Andreas Schipplock
Tue 23 Jun 2020 08:32:42 PM UTC