“Cloud” and “Cloud Computing” are common buzzwords these days. Whether we, as consumers, truly understand the meaning or extent and implications of these terms remain to be sussed out another day. Regardless, cloud computing and its related services are very much of our lives on a daily basis. Take the very basic – email, probably the earliest form of cloud computing, even before the term was invented. One company that’s taking cloud and cloud services to a new level is Yes, one of Malaysia’s leading 4G providers.[ad#Google Adsense 336x280]
Yes was the first telco to add a mobile number to the desktop, back in November 2010, offering a true cloud-based address book and also concurrent device usage, thanks to its unique Yes ID.
Yes Mail, its free bundled email account coupled with its unique Yes ID service, has just recently been upgraded to a whole new suite of services, called Yes Life Web (initially named Yes Life Cloud).
Yes Life Web is an innovative, integrated suite of unified communication tools which gives you world-class email, synchronised contacts and calendar, 2GB of cloud storage, ability to make/receive voice calls and send/receive SMS, all via your favourite browser on your Mac or PC.
With Yes Life Web, Yes has earned the distinction of being the first Malaysian mobile communications suite on the web.
Yes Life is also available on mobile platforms. It first launched Yes Life for iOS in May 2011, followed by Yes Life for Android in September 2011.
Yes Life Web has been a 6-month development journey and for the past 30 days or so, we’ve taken Yes Life Web to the test as beta testers. Yes opened Yes Life Web for iniitial testing to about 200 beta-testers over a month ago.
Overall User Interface / User Experience
The first thing you’d notice as you enter web.yeslife.my is the clean login screen. This gives you a clue of what the UI for Yes Life Web is overall. Once logged in, you’ll find the UI familiar. I say familiar because you’ll feel as comfortable and natural as you would in Gmail or Outlook.com. No guessing and too much fiddling about. Zero learning curve. The way it should be.
Up on the top is your main navigation with Messaging, Contacts, Calendar, Storage, Settings, Help and a Search bar.
You’ll get a three-pane view with your email folders on your left sidebar, your inbox in the centre and the message preview pane on the right. You can also switch this to a two-pane layout if you so wish.
What you’ll also notice is “Make a Call” on the bottom left of the sidebar. More of that later.
Overall layout, colour palette, buttons and typography are clean, and clear. Pretty intuitive and straightforward.
Messaging encompasses everything from email to SMS and calls.
For emails, you’ll be presented with a familiar Inbox, as well as separate folders for Drafts, Sent, Trash and Sent Messages. Add a custom folder just by clicking on the “+” icon.
As an email client it offers everything an email client should have from folder management, email filters, spam management, HTML email and more.
Text me, why dontcha?
You can now send SMS from the your browser using your 018 Yes number. This is pretty cool and works flawlessly across networks. SMS conversations are also logged and threaded. Very sweet indeed.
Here my 018, so call me maybe?
This of course, is the killer feature of Yes Life Web. The ability to make and receive calls from your browser. To make a call, you simply call up the dial pad from your sidebar and key in a phone number. Or you can enter a name or number in the search bar to look up a number/email in your Contacts. Easy peasy.
Quality of call is as you would expect from a VOIP service like Google Voice or Skype. We tested this by calling not only Yes numbers and IDs, but also other telcos. I did need to plug in a pair of headphones as sound quality was better. Overall, satisfactory but can suffer from some echoing.
All your contacts in one place
Yes Life Web supports up to 2,000 contacts and this can be imported from an Excel file, or a CSV file. 2,000 is a good number but unfortunately I have over 4,000 so I am still trying to figure out how I can clean up my contact list and have it synced to Yes Life Web.
Importing contacts is as simple as clicking on the Import button and selected the exported CSV file (you can do this from Gmail).
High on my wish list is a simpler way to connect and import Gmail contacts (a one-click button would be nice). I’ve sent this along with other feedback to the Yes Life team, so hopefully this can be incorporated in future updates. Also, a progress bar when importing would definitely enhance the user experience.
Contact details can be as simple and plain jane as you wish, or as detailed as you wish. A useful addition would be an indicator or perhaps an auto-filter for contacts with Yes ID.
Your life, organised
The Yes Life Calendar is a pretty full-featured calendaring tool with the ability to share social calendars with other users and supports the import/export/sync of CalDAV-based calendar servers.
Easily configure Yes LIfe calendar to be used with other calendar clients, like iCal.
Adding and editing new events and appointments is easy and very intuitive. Not much comments here because it just works.
Keep it in the cloud
A very welcome addition to Yes Life Web is cloud-based storage. Users are allocated 2GB each for files and email attachments. The interface supports drag-and-drop from the browser.
Users have the ability to organise files with folders by simply clicking on the “+” sign on the sidebar.
A Flash in a pan
The microphone/sounds controls for voice calls use Flash but I do hope this will a non-Flash option in the future. The team is apparently working on this.
If you find yourself lost, fret not. Yes Life Web has a very rich Help section which you can refer to. Also turn on Show Tips from your Account dropdown menu on the top right of your screen.
Do I like it? Yes, I do. As a Yes user it does make sense to be using Yes Life Web. The convenience of an all-in-one-place communications suite is quite convincing. If you’re often desk-bound or attached to your laptop, then you can check emails, SMS and call all in one place via browser. That’s pretty cool.
User experience aside, I think the Yes Life team has done a great job of producing a clean, fast-loading, familiar and intuitive UI. They didn’t have to re-invent the wheel so to speak, merely needing to take inspiration from the best email clients out there like Outlook.com (which IMHO tops in terms of UI/UX) and Gmail, and inject some Yes DNA into it.
As a result, a very full-featured communications suite, which no doubt needs a little bit of bug-fixing and tweaking, but overall, is a step in the right direction.
The question now is to get as many users possible to start using Yes Life Web in place of current email client and communications tools. Hopefully the web-based SMS and calls feature would compel users to adopt.
If you haven’t tried Yes Life Web, take it for a drive today – http://web.yeslife.my