Update: Rediff informs us that they haven’t abandoned Indic languages for email altogether – they intend to include Indian languages in the new user interface once some bugs have been fixed. The New Rediffmail is available for new registrants as of now, and Rediff also intends to make the new interface available to Rediffmail PRO users. In terms of giving users the option of adding RSS feeds, the company might include feeds from social networks like Orkut, LinkedIn, Facebook besides Rediff in the Feeds, but there’s no plan on making it a feed reader.
Original Story (July 1st 2009): NASDAQ listed Indian Internet company Rediff appears to be making a concerted effort to become mobile friendly: after redesigning its international portal India Abroad to make it mobile and iPhone friendly, the company has now revisited its mail service Rediffmail.
Where Have All The Text Ads Gone?
The blue-white-grey interface is now almost all white, with a dose of red icons. The new Rediff Mail has a neat, minimalist interface without many advertisements. Gone is the left menu bar, and consequently the text advertisements there, as well as the text advertisements; one large banner on the right remains, and banner advertisements are sent out in the emails. Some screenshots: New version on the left, and old on the right:
Additional services like
– Activate POP3, Check mail via SMS/GPRS – once in the menu bar, have been moved to the ‘Settings’ section. The navigation is now entirely top menu based, except in case of the settings section. What amazed me is the speed with which Rediffmail loads, and that switching between the old version and the new version is almost instantaneous. Those who tried Yahoo mail when it launched an Outlook Express like interface for mail would remember how long that switch took. That was a different beast, though.
As we’d mentioned, the mobile version is again clean and minimalist, and appears to be ads free. Some screenshots:
Other Features: Calendar; Why Not A Feed Reader?
Sometime earlier this year, Rediff is believed to have added a Calendar to Rediffmail; it appears tothe Calendar appears to be a key component of Rediffmail – is among the few navigation elements on the site. Rediff also allows users to read feeds from LinkedIn, Facebook, Orkut and Hi5; we wonder why Rediff hasn’t expanded that feature to allow users to also add any RSS feed they want, and make it into a veritable feed reader. SMS alerts for Email have unfortunately been placed in the ‘Settings’ section – I tried it out, and got a message from Airtel informing me that email alerts from Rediff are priced at Re. 1 each.
Goodbye Indian Languages?
The key feature of Rediffmail’s 2006 relaunch, was its focus on Indian languages: supported by Tachyon (Quillpad), a company in which Rediff increased its stake to 26% earlier this year, Rediffmail offered 11 Indian languages, much like Sify, which was once a competitor. Last year, in a talk at the Internet Governance Forum which led to much debate on MediaNama, Rediff CEO Ajit Balakrishnan said that 99% of Rediffmail users prefer to use email in English. Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the new Rediffmail does not allow users to compose text in Indian languages.
Update: Rediff informs us that they haven’t abandoned the Indic language capability for Rediffmail, and will include it in the new Rediffmail once some bugs have been fixed.
Indic Language Email Interoperability?
While testing Rediffmail for Indic languages, we sent mails using Gmail’s Google transliteration to Rediffmail, and the old Rediffmail’s transliteration to Gmail. What’s surprising is that while Gmail was able to read mails written in Hindi (screenshot) from the old Rediffmail (screenshot), mails sent from Gmail (screenshot) were – plain and simple – unreadable (screenshot; the translated text was a part of our email, not added by Google). While the new Rediffmail is unable to send Indic language emails, we hope they haven’t abandoned the pursuit of Indic languages alltogether; would be good for Google and Rediff to work things out so that Rediff users can at least receive Indic language emails.
Note: We’ve asked Rediff for a few clarifications – among them is whether Rediffmail Pro has also received an upgrade. We’ll update when we receive a response.
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