Astro, software that aims to solve email issues through the application of AI, released its latest major update today, adding a built-in calendar and simplifying how users interact with automated insights about their messages.
Email clients seem to be a dime a dozen, and those promising some sort of AI functionality are growing in number, but Astro is aiming to make AI features more appealing to professional users. While the update is available as a direct to consumer app, Astro’s long-term business model is to sell paid services to entire businesses.
The calendar functionality adds fairly rudimentary support to show users upcoming events from their schedule. As with any other calendar app, people can also edit and add new events. But this is an important move on mobile platforms, where Astro is competing against Microsoft Outlook, which also has a built-in calendar.
The insights component provides users with a list of ways to make their email work better for them. Some of the suggestions, which include automatic archiving of recurring messages that people frequently ignore, were already available through the app. Those were initially part of Astrobot, a bot assistant that used chat input to parse users’ queries about their emails.
The team has added new insights for users, including detection of time-sensitive commitments that they might need to respond to within a particular time frame.
Astro CEO Andy Pflaum told VentureBeat in an email that the choice to separate the insights from Astrobot was made in response to feedback from users, who requested to see the insights in a different location.
Today’s update doesn’t mean the bot is heading to the scrap heap anytime soon. Pflaum said that the company is still forging ahead on its integrations with Slack and Alexa, which both use Astrobot as an interface for helping people access and parse their email. As part of this update, Astrobot also gained support for managing a user’s calendar.
Inside the Astro app, the bot’s interface got a facelift, with new cards that show users what it can do, making it easier for them to access the bot’s functions.
Astro also updated the user interface for its mobile apps on iOS and Android to make each play a bit better with the native styles on their home platforms.
Right now, the company isn’t providing exact user numbers for its application, other than to say that its user base is in the six figures.