Originally published in Lifehacker by Alan Henry
The video above is a great demo of what Notion is capable of doing, but it’s worth noting that the project is still a labor of love and very early in its development. It has some great features out of the box though, like the ability to synchronize with other devices and easy installation on the Echo, and the fact that it can tell which messages are “important” in your inbox and read those to you instead of just reading every single thing you have in there—which, as the developers say (and I agree) would be the opposite of useful. How they judge what’s important or not likely has to do with context and your mail app’s own markers for how often you interact with a sender or how important it is, though the devs say Notion uses “personalized intelligence” to do it, so take that for what you will.
Beyond that though, you can ask Alexa is there’s anyone waiting on you to respond to them, who you’ve recently met via email (as in, who’s introduced you or who recently brought you in on a conversation), and you can snooze messages for later—a great feature in an app that might get overwhelming depending on how many messages you get. You can even set do not disturb hours, or lock your inbox with a PIN so someone else can’t just ask your Echo to read your email instead.
However, the app does have some drawbacks, like the fact that the Echo doesn’t support notifications, so you’ll have to know you got a message or want to hear your messages to think to ask about them. Plus, Notion is just the bridging technology between Amazon’s Alexa services and your inbox, so you’ll have to grant it access to both your mail and devices as well as your Echo in order for it to work. Similarly, expect more than a few typos and spelling errors in your sent messages—text-to-speech is by no means perfect, and if the captions on the YouTube video are any indication, you may run into a couple of “sorry, autocorrect” moments when you do get a chance to pick up your phone again.
In the meantime though, Notion is functional, a great step forward towards giving everyone that Star Trek experience we all want from smart home hubs, and available right now. Hit the links below to try it out, or to read more.
Talk to Your Email | Medium
Notion – Talk to Your Email (Free) | Amazon Alexa Skills
Notion Intelligent Email (Free) | Google Play
Notion Email Intelligence for Gmail and Beyond (Free) | iTunes App Store