I have been testing IBM Verse Preview a little now, and I have compiled a list of some features I would like to see implemented. I have not included things in the UI (User Interface), because it is clear that part is still being polished/developed, and have some ways to go. I am going to focus on actual functionality, the UI items I will wait with until we are closer to the official March 31 launch date.
Connect IBM Verse to GMail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail
This is needed for several reasons. First to import existing calendar entries, contacts (including pictures, e.g. in Google Contact) and even existing email. Say the last 3 months or 6 months or even 12 months of email.
The connection should also be used to retrieve any new email coming to those acounts and display them in Verse. This way Verse can act as a federated email client, replacing the need to login to 3 or 4 different webmail systems. This requires one more function: the ability to change the sender address to match the account it was sent to. For example, if I get a mail delivered to firstname.lastname@example.org and it get imported into IBM Verse, when I respond to it I need to be able to select that email@example.com is the sender, not firstname.lastname@example.org. Outlook Express could do this this 15 years ago…
Signatures (including graphic elements)
Nobody will be taking Verse serious if you can’t create a signature for your outgoing email. Even for personal mail that is pretty much required today, and if you are trying to showcase a product intended for enterprises, don’t cripple it like this.
Allow custom usernames and aliases
In all/most other systems I use the nickname TexasSwede. In IBM Verse I have to be karl-henry.martinsson, which is longer, harder to remember (and to get right for people) and also annoying to have to type every time I login. Talking about login, the login screen does not remember my username and I have to enter my username as well as the domain. Not fun, especially when the mailbox times out every 30 minutes. If you like to keep your mail open all day, that is not useful.
While we are on the subject of account/user settings, it would be nice to be able to change the password…
Make Verse freemium, not crippleware
Nobody will bother testing IBM Verse if you are limited to 25 emails per 24 hour period and a 500 MB mailbox. Even GMail had 2GB at it’s launch in 2004 (if I recall correctly). I am sure there are many other things in the full version that have been removed in the preview version (if it has been developed yet). From what I understand, there is quite a bit of work left on the full (paid) version as well…
For any kind of corporate/enterprise email you need rules to sort incoming mail into folders. With the integration of Watson in IBM Verse, this should be easier than ever. We should be able to get the most accurant and most powerful email rules ever seen. Of course, with a 25 email per day limitation, nobody will have enough mail in their Verse account to eventest the analytics part of the product.
Support more browsers
At least Internet Explorer 10/11 should be supported. Many companies are still standardized on IE, no matter what you think about that product. I know that as late as last year, certain security certificates for banks in Sweden required even older version of Internet Explorer
In addition I have also heard reports that Safari did not work because the version installed with the operating system wasn’t supported. IBM requires pretty much the latest versions of the browsers for Verse to work. They do some fairly advanced browser sniffing, but the error message you get just tell you that your browser is not supported. That message should be much more precise. If you have Firefox 31 and Firefix 32 is needed, that should be explained.
Mail sent to non-existing users
If you send a mail to a non-existing user (for example of you type the address wrong, perhaps dropping one s from my last name) you get a non-delivery notification saying “User email@example.com does not exist in Domino Directory”. We are all happy that Verse is built on top of the reliable and robust .NSF infrastructure from Notes and Domino, but it would be nice to use more descriptive and less confusing messages. What’s wrong with “The user firstname.lastname@example.org does not exist, please check the email address.”