Cloze is a new iOS app from the company of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store.
Cloze’s rather bold tagline is “The Inbox is Human Again,” and this relates to its rethink of how users interact with their email and social media presences. Rather than focusing on individual messages, Cloze instead aims to allow users to focus on the relationships with the people who really matter to them rather than systematically trawling through thousands of new messages and social media interactions every day.
Signing up for Cloze requires that users create an account and then link it to their email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presences if they have them. After this, the service crawls through the user’s accounts in an attempt to determine who are the most important people — a process which takes anywhere between a few minutes and several days depending on how many accounts the user has and how active a user they are — and then presents them with the app’s main “noise-cancelling inbox” view.
Cloze’s main view is split into a number of different components. A “Key People” section displays updates from what the app determines to be important people to the user. This is determined by a “Cloze Score,” which is itself calculated by a number of factors including dormancy, frequency of interaction, responsiveness to your interactions, what proportion of your interactions are one-on-one, the variety of topics covered and how “equal” your relationship appears to be. It’s possible to see a breakdown of how all these factors contribute to your final Cloze Score with your contact, though some of the factors seem a little ill-defined. It’s possible to set a Cloze Score threshold for someone to be considered a Key Person, and this helps users to customize their experience — though there doesn’t seem to be a simple means of simply telling the app “yes, this person IS important, disregard your arbitrary scores.” There is a “mute” facility, however.
Tapping on a person allows you to immediately see all mail and social interactions with that person, or filter interactions by just mail. If you have contact information for the person, a simple quick-access panel allows you to phone, SMS or email them as well as view their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook presences, location and make private notes on them. It’s also possible to add any missing information manually.
Outside of the “Key People” view, users may also browse Other Mail, Bulk Mail, Losing Touch and Other Social categories that include messages from less “important” sources. It’s also possible to create custom lists with specifically-chosen people, which helps get around the issue described above.
Cloze is a nice idea in theory, but in practice it’s simply confusing. There does not seem to be any real logic to how Cloze Scores are calculated — people with whom I interact on a daily basis are marked as “Losing Touch” by the app, while LinkedIn contacts whom I have never once engaged with show up in my “Key People” list. It’s also difficult to tell exactly what the app is supposed to be used for. Yes, it allows a quick and easy view of updates from (theoretically) the most important people in my life, but the way it is presented is actually considerably less efficient than a standard inbox view, as it requires flicking through hundreds of individual pages rather than glancing at a simple list of messages. Similarly, it is a nice idea in theory to have mail and social updates all in one place, but in practice it’s a confusing mess. Thankfully, it is possible to set the app to filter out social activity altogether, making it marginally more useful, but even then it’s somewhat difficult to figure out exactly how to make the app fit into one’s daily life.
In short, those who are looking for a new mobile means of taking command of their inbox are probably better getting into the increasingly-long queue for Mailbox. Cloze is an interesting experiment in calculating the “value” of online relationships, but in practical terms, it’s an ill-defined, rather confusing affair that seems to create more problems than it solves.
You can follow Cloze’s progress with AppData, our traffic tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.