Astro brings AI to email, and now Calendar too

Calendar and Email iOS Mac Android

Today’s a big day on Astro’s Calendar–we’re launching major updates to our apps on iOS, Android, Mac, and Slack. With the new Astro, it’s easy to know what to focus on today. Astro now has a built in Calendar, more Astrobot Insights and Commands, an updated design, and @mentions.

Our mission is to help people and teams focus on what’s most important. So, with Astro 1.0 (launched less than a year ago in March 2017), we chose to start with perhaps the most overwhelming part of many people’s work lives: email. Then for 2.0, we tackled the challenges of working across communication tools and brought Astrobot to Slack. When planning for today’s Astro 3.0 launch, we knew we wanted to tackle another huge challenge: Calendar. We also wanted to continue to improve our core email and AI experience, and help people answer questions like “What do I need to get done today?”, “What can’t I miss in my inbox?”, and “What’s my highest priority right now?” Astro 3.0 does just that.

Here’s a preview of what’s new:

Astro Calendar

It just makes sense to have email and calendar in the same app. It streamlines your workflow, saves you time, and makes it easier to get a complete view of what’s most important. And you seem to agree–this has been a top requested feature since day one.

Calendar has everything you expect: you can add your Gmail and Office 365 calendars, select which specific calendars from each account you want to display, and add or update events.

But, we went a couple steps further. We don’t want you to miss anything important during your day, so if you Snooze an email, set a Reminder through Astrobot, or schedule an email to be sent later, we’ll add that to your Calendar. This makes it much easier to get a full view of your day.

Astrobot can also help with your Calendar. You can ask things like:

  • When’s my next meeting with Elroy?
  • Add Lunch with George on Friday at noon to my calendar
  • When am I free tomorrow?
  • What’s on my calendar on Thursday?

Slack Updates

And more exciting news about Calendar–if you spend time in Slack, you can also ask Astrobot these commands right from Slack. So, you can see a quick glimpse of your day without leaving Slack or Astro Email.

Meet the new Astrobot

Astrobot is now your email and calendar assistant, plus Astrobot got a lot smarter and responds to new commands.

The first thing you’ll notice about Astrobot is that we’ve divided Astrobot’s capabilities into two views: Insights and Ask Astrobot. To clean up your inbox, manage your day, and stay on top of what’s important, you can type and speak commands to Astrobot in Ask Astrobot and quickly act on suggestions and recommendations from Astrobot in Insights. When Ask and Insights were in one place, Insights weren’t as actionable and commands were difficult to discover. Based on feedback from hundreds of beta testers, we think you’ll love the change and get even more use out of Astrobot.

Astrobot Insights

Insights remind you to follow up on important emails and questions, suggest emails to archive or unsubscribe from, and let you know when tracked emails get opened. Plus, we added new Insights to help you know what to follow up on:

  • Time-specific requests: Our AI identifies requests and questions in emails that contain a time or due date. This new Astrobot Insight makes it easier to set up events and complete tasks on time. (Stay tuned for a deep dive on our blog about the machine learning behind this new Insight).
  • Mentions: Our new @mentions feature (learn more later in this post) allows you to reference a teammate in an email and be sure they don’t miss the message. If the teammate is also using Astro, they’ll see a notification in Astrobot Insights.

Ask Astrobot

Astrobot responds to hundreds of commands that help you clean up your inbox, set reminders, learn to use Astro, and more–and now it will be much easier to know what to ask. Under the hood, we’ve improved our natural language processing (NLP), so Astrobot responds to more command variations. And in the app, we’ve improved discoverability of commands by adding cards that you can select instead of typing.

Based on your feedback, we’ve also added new commands that make managing your inbox easier. Highlights include:

  • Create new folder
  • Search emails by name or subject
  • New Zap commands (so many, they need their own section below)

For a full list of commands, visit our Help Center.

More to Zap!

We’ve updated our Zap command with a lot more inbox-cleaning power. In Astrobot Insights, Astrobot suggests newsletters and marketing emails to unsubscribe from, emails to archive, and emails to move to folders based on your behavior. But you can also ask Astrobot to do a lot more to help clean up and organize your inbox. When you open Astrobot, select the Zap card to quickly get Astrobot’s help. Zap can help you:

  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists or newsletters
  • Archive or delete emails from a specific sender, folder, or date range. Try “Archive Other Inbox older than 7 days.”
  • Mark emails from a specific sender, folder, or date range as read
  • Move emails from a specific sender or folder to another folder, and set this up to happen automatically
  • Empty your junk or trash folders

Digest emails

We’ve added another way to stay on top of Astrobot’s Insights: optional daily and weekly email updates. The daily update email shows what to focus on today. It summarizes and reminds you about about emails to follow up on, open tracking notifications, and your calendar events. The weekly email update helps you clean up your inbox before heading into the weekend. It summarizes unsubscribe, archive, and other Zap Insights, and shares stats about your email activity that week. We want to ensure you only get emails you care about, so you can unsubscribe if you prefer to just see Insights and Calendar inside the app.

Astrobot Quote

Mentions

We’ve become familiar with Mentions from Slack, Twitter, Asana, and others. They’re a great way to make sure someone doesn’t miss something important, to attribute a piece of work to someone, or to let people know who to follow up with.

Now in Astro, just type @name and we’ll clearly call out the person in the email and add them to the “to” field. And when you @mention someone who also uses Astro, they’ll get a notification in Astrobot Insights, so they don’t miss the message (more reasons to invite your team to download Astro!)

New design

We’ve touched on Astro’s new design throughout this post, but want to highlight a few key changes. Astro’s mobile apps now have a bottom bar with 5 tabs. With the new Calendar and Astrobot Insights, this was needed to make navigation simple. On Mac, Ask Astrobot is now in the bottom of the left sidebar, and Insights are in the top. We welcome your feedback on the new navigation.

We’ve also added filters to the top of your inbox for easier access on mobile, added photo avatars on all devices, and added celebratory illustrations when you hit inbox zero (see below).

Please take the new Astro for a spin and let us know how Calendar and updated Astrobot help bring better focus to your day.

We want to give a special thank you to our beta testers who provided invaluable feedback throughout our development process, and to everyone who has provided feedback since our first launch last March. We addressed some of our top feedback in this release and hope to continue receiving much more feedback about our new apps–please type “feedback [message]” to Astrobot to share your thoughts or add a comment here.

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