Astro is an email app for mobile and desktop that uses artificial intelligence to help you organize and manage your inbox. The app sorts emails into two “folders” called Priority and Other based on your email and contact history. It also allows you to snooze emails and set a timer to address them later and to schedule emails to send at a later date and time. Astro launched an Alexa skill in June for its email app and now the company has integrated its voice assistant, Astrobot Voice, into its mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Giving Email a Voice
I downloaded the Astro app for my smartphone and then enabled the Alexa skill as well. The Astro Alexa skill is pretty useful I have to say. When you open the app, Alexa immediately tells you how many Priority and Other emails you have and then asks if you would like her to read them. If you do, she reads the Priority emails first by subject line. You can then either choose to hear the entire email or skip to the next message. This makes for a great user experience as you only have to listen to the message you want to hear. Once you are listening to an email, you can also interrupt Alexa to snooze, delete or archive a message or to move on to the next one. You cannot dictate replies to Alexa through the skill, but you can choose from a short list of quick replies if you desire.
While I see the advantage of checking your email through Alexa on a busy morning, I do not quite see the appeal of the voice assistant on the app. While voice search can be easier, it’s not as convenient as it could be because I have to open the app anyways to use the Astrobot Voice feature. Once I’m in there, it could be just as easy to type my search in the chatbot. That being said, what Astro has achieved with its email app is impressive as it provides a seamless user experience across multiple devices. Astro is a great example of how companies can turn a display oriented smartphone app into a solid voice-first experience on Alexa.