CES 2013: AOL Intros Alto, For Organizing AOL & Non-AOL eMails

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Although the source might come as a surprise to some, AOL has introduced Alto, a new cloud-based email product designed to help users cope with the floods of email in their AOL, Gmail, Yahoo! and other accounts in an organized way.

“We’re pulling together email streams and organizing them in a visual manner,” said Joshua Ramirez, senior director of product for AOL Mail, in an interview with NotebookReview at CES.

Essentially, Alto uses “stacks” to organize emails into categories. The default stacks include social notifications, attachments, photos, daily deals, and retailers. During holiday times, for example, the daily deals and retailers stacks could make it easier to find Black Friday bargains. If Alto’s default categories don’t work for you, though, you can also create your own custom stacks.

Aside from AOL Mail, Gmail, and Yahoo! mail, Alto also supports .me and Mac mail. You can use Alto with a single email account, or you can aggregate mail from multiple types of mailboxes into Alto for sorting.

Alto assigns mail to the default stacks automatically. For custom stacks, you can drag and drop emails into the stacks. No human beings at AOL ever look at your mail, according to Ramirez.

Ramirez said he hopes that the email-agnostic Alto will help to dispel stereotypes of AOL as being “stodgy” that some might hold from days gone by.

“For a really long time now, we haven’t been a ‘walled garden,” according to the AOL exec.

In fact, Alto is a natural fit for AOL, since AOL has been handling users’ email for so many years, he contended.

In a demo, Ramirez showed off some other features of Alto. He illustrated how you can sort photos by date, sender, or mail account, as well as share them directly through social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

He also showed how you can clean your mailboxes of all sales pitches by turning on the “skip the inbox” feature for daily deals and retailers.

Alto is in limited preview right now. If you want to sign up to receive an invitation to the software trial, go to www.altomail.com.

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