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AOL Unveils Alto, A Clutter-Clearing Visual Inbox Service

AOL's hoping to shake up the email market by offering a new service that works with your existing webmail accounts, rather than replacing them completely. After you sign in with your Yahoo, Gmail, AOL Mail or .Mac address, AOL's Alto transforms the traditional list-focused email experience into a visual experience designed around organizing your email into "stacks." Basically, it's a pretty way to cut through inbox clutter.

Stacks arrange your emails according to their contents; emails with photos go into one stack, emails from retailers or social notifications go into another and so on, as you can see in the screenshot above. Alto sorts emails into a handful of preset stack types by default, but users are free to whip up Stacks of their own, or hide existing stacks if you're looking to Get Things Done and don't want daily deals sucking away your focus.

If you want to see what your social pals are up to online, you can also connect an Alto account to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles to receive up-to-the-minute updates from your network.

Alto seems like an intriguing take on Gmail's Priority Inbox feature and its aesthetic could fit in nicely with Windows 8's look and feel, judging by the screenshots. If you want to give the cloud-based service a whirl -- each Alto account can integrate five different email addresses, by the way -- head over to the Alto website and register to join.

Via Engadget