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Hop for iPhone makes email feel like messaging

If you feel like standing in a virtual line for a chance to try "email reimagined," then hop on over to the App Store today and grab a free copy of Hop for iPhone. The app, previously known as Ping, is the latest in what seems to be an endless series of apps that are trying to figure out how to make email less email-like.

In the case of Hop, the idea is to make email feel more like instant messaging. It works with Gmail, AOL, Yahoo and iCloud email accounts, and rather than presenting you with another tired take on the traditional inbox, it organizes messages by person or group in a stream like that you'd see in Messages. All of those other emails -- subscriptions, marketing emails, newsletters -- go into their own separate workspace.

Other features of Hop include (from the Hop blog):

  • A playful, easy interface: Communicate in a natural, dynamic environment with rich media sharing (personal photos, Web photos, video), voice recording, video chat, doodling and the all bells and whistles that make chatting fun. By doing away with the formal, antiquated letter format, unnatural terms like "Best Regards" are no longer a part of conversations with your colleagues or friends.

  • Super real-time responses: Receive emails the exact moment they come in, seconds before you would using any native mobile email app. Users can even see when another person is typing, as you would with iMessage or chat.

  • Better notifications: Stop checking your phone every time it buzzes. Decide collectively if you like to get notification only for Chats and assign custom notification alerts for different types of messages and contacts.

  • Instant access to shared media: See all recent attachments and documents within a conversation by flipping your phone to horizontal view.

  • Snooze: Hit the Couch, Desktop or Passholder buttons to save messages for later or quick access.

  • Quick search: Find friends or conversations instantly with a universal search bar.

A marketing video complete with tinkly indie pop soundtrack is embedded below so that you can watch it obsessively as you wait for the line to move. We'll have a full review of Hop in the very near future.

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