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Project Phoenix Beta Launches, Reinvents AOL Mail

AOL Project Phoenix
Our parent company AOL has been working hard to reinvent itself after years of steadily fading from relevancy. We'll reserve judgment of how successful those attempts have been (since we'd be accused of being biased anyway), but we will say that the so-called 'Project Phoenix' revamp of AOL mail is a promising development. Currently in limited beta, Project Phoenix constitutes a complete overhaul of the current AOL Web-mail client, borrowing heavily from the popular Gmail interface. (Note the new ability to "star" messages, as well as the streamlined navigation bar at the top of the inbox.) At the top of the page is the new Quick Bar, which lets you quickly compose e-mails, instant messages and texts. Meanwhile, the Smart View sidebar allows you to preview any special content, like photos and maps, in unopened messages. Plus, thanks to the tabbed interface, you can open several messages at once while keeping the inbox within easy reach.

With Phoenix, users can also pull their messages from other services (e.g., Gmail and Hotmail) into their AOL inboxes. But, in what may be the best news for those who are afraid of seeming technologically inept by firing off missives from an address, new users can choose to set up addresses at,, and instead. Oddly, AOL hasn't given us access here at Switched yet, so we're still waiting to get a real hands-on -- but you can sign up for the beta here.

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