We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Email is outdated, unloved, and probably broken beyond repair. Ami BenDavid agrees. He’s developed the messaging app Xros (pronounced “cross”) so that anyone can communicate with individuals or groups, in other companies or your own, without using email. Think of it as Slack for freelancers.
“For conversations, email is a dead end and will be, in my view, mostly replaced,” says BenDavid, who previously co-founded the Android launcher startup EverythingMe (which recently shut down). “I launched [Xros yesterday], and am having about 20 talks in parallel, none of them on email . . . and it’s amazing.”
One of those 20 conversations is with me. BenDavid sent me an email with an invitation to Xros that brought me directly to a one-on-one chatroom with him–no registration or password required. That’s key. By making your email your “identity,” you eliminate the barrier to entry required of other messaging systems (like Slack). Plus, your information on Xros is as secure as you’ve chosen to make your email. Xros also allows you to have group chats and connects to the cloud so users can share text, images, and file attachments.
Xros essentially functions like Slack in reverse, which is more intuitive, BenDavid argues, for the growing swaths of the population who work remotely or in non-traditional work environments. (In the U.S., 15.5 million people are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). “People think that users talk mostly internally, and then from time to time they also talk externally. Slack covers the internal communication, and can expand by adding guests, etc.,” he says. “But for a large portion of the workforce, all their work is external . . . freelancers, consultants, service providers, lawyers, business development people, bloggers, investors, and so on.”
Like Slack, Xros has both desktop and mobile components to accommodate workers wherever they are. “A lot of our early users used [the mobile IM client] Whatsapp groups to cover for the lack of good messaging at work, and one of the key issues with Whatsapp, is . . . the lack of a desktop app,” BenDavid says. With Xros, “you can start a discussion on mobile, then sit down, and continue it on your desktop, you get up and go to another room, the notifications switch to your phone. “We need to cover everywhere you are, with seamless continuity.”
Of course, to catch on, Xros not only has to convince freelancers to use it, but also the people they are corresponding with in-office, for whom Slack is probably already part of their day-to-day. And if Slack ever did develop a way for cross-company communication, Xros would be out of a job.
In the meantime, you can download Xros for free here.