US20150106741A1 - Managing conversations - Google Patents

Managing conversations Download PDF

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US20150106741A1
US20150106741A1 US14/054,625 US201314054625A US2015106741A1 US 20150106741 A1 US20150106741 A1 US 20150106741A1 US 201314054625 A US201314054625 A US 201314054625A US 2015106741 A1 US2015106741 A1 US 2015106741A1
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Prior art keywords
message
action
user
option
communication application
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US14/054,625
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Ned Bearer Friend
Matthias Baer
Nicholas Smith
Trevor Neil Lacey
Peter Loren Engrav
Michael Borysenko
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Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC
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Microsoft Corp
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Assigned to MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY LICENSING, LLC reassignment MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY LICENSING, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MICROSOFT CORPORATION
Assigned to MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY LICENSING, LLC reassignment MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY LICENSING, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MICROSOFT CORPORATION
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L51/00Arrangements for user-to-user messaging in packet-switching networks, e.g. e-mail or instant messages
    • H04L51/22Mailbox-related details
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L51/00Arrangements for user-to-user messaging in packet-switching networks, e.g. e-mail or instant messages
    • H04L51/16Arrangements for user-to-user messaging in packet-switching networks, e.g. e-mail or instant messages including conversation history, e.g. threads
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/048Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI]
    • G06F3/0481Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] based on specific properties of the displayed interaction object or a metaphor-based environment, e.g. interaction with desktop elements like windows or icons, or assisted by a cursor's changing behaviour or appearance
    • G06F3/0482Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] based on specific properties of the displayed interaction object or a metaphor-based environment, e.g. interaction with desktop elements like windows or icons, or assisted by a cursor's changing behaviour or appearance interaction with lists of selectable items, e.g. menus
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/048Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI]
    • G06F3/0484Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] for the control of specific functions or operations, e.g. selecting or manipulating an object or an image, setting a parameter value or selecting a range
    • G06F3/0486Drag-and-drop
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/048Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI]
    • G06F3/0487Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser
    • G06F3/0488Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser using a touch-screen or digitiser, e.g. input of commands through traced gestures
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/10Office automation, e.g. computer aided management of electronic mail or groupware; Time management, e.g. calendars, reminders, meetings or time accounting
    • G06Q10/107Computer aided management of electronic mail

Abstract

Technologies are generally described for providing a system to facilitate efficient management and prioritization of conversations, such as emails, in a communication application. Conversations may be prioritized according to user preferences, and an inbox may be rearranged to display important conversations in a user defined order. Conversations may also be associated together so that they may appear together and flow together in the inbox. Additionally, the system may enable a user to delay display of a conversation until a later time based on various criteria such as location, time, and client device. A user may also move important emails to the top of an inbox for prominent display. The system may perform the actions automatically based on observed user behavior. Furthermore, the system may enable touch interactions for interacting with and managing the conversations, and quick controls may be provided for executing commands to perform actions associated with the conversations.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • Communication applications are widely used on a variety of client devices for real time and non-real time correspondence. With the proliferation of computing and networking technologies, communications including email use, video conferencing and instant messaging have become an inextricable part of daily personal and professional lives. The increased reliance on email brings with it the disadvantage of how to deal with increasingly large numbers of emails. It is a common occurrence to find hundreds of email needing attention (at least a quick review) when a person comes back from vacation or comparable absence. Similarly, certain events (e.g., a product release, a conference, etc.) may generate a large number of received emails when the person receiving the emails may be too busy to deal with the increased volume. In addition to important emails, users may receive personal emails and junk email in a same inbox creating even more conversations to sort through.
  • Users may receive a large quantity of emails hourly and daily, and sorting through hundreds and even thousands of emails to find important emails that need to be dealt with can be arduous, inefficient, and time consuming. Spending a significant time going through emails can be stressful and overwhelming, and users may feel that it is difficult to catch up and read through everything to find and keep track of important emails and to efficiently manage emails.
  • SUMMARY
  • This summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This summary is not intended to exclusively identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.
  • Embodiments are directed to a system facilitating efficient management and prioritization of conversations, such as emails, in a communication application. Conversations may be prioritized according to user preferences, and an inbox may be rearranged to display important conversations in a user-defined order. For example, a user may be enabled to move important emails to the top of an inbox for prominent display. Conversations may also be associated together so that they may flow together in the inbox. Additionally, the system may enable a user to hide or minimize display of a conversation until a later time based on criteria such as location, time, proximity to other people, and client device. The system may also be configured to perform the actions automatically based on observed user behavior.
  • These and other features and advantages will be apparent from a reading of the following detailed description and a review of the associated drawings. It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are explanatory and do not restrict aspects as claimed.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 illustrates an example collaborative environment where a system for managing conversations on a client device may be employed;
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate an example renew action of a communication application;
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate an example snooze action of a communication application;
  • FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate an example quick toolbar and stack action;
  • FIG. 5 is a networked environment, where a system according to embodiments may be implemented;
  • FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an example computing operating environment, where embodiments may be implemented; and
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a logic flow diagram for a process of providing a system to facilitate managing conversations in a communication application, according to embodiments.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • As briefly described above, a system is described for managing conversations in a communication application. A user may prioritize emails and rearrange an inbox according to user preferences to display important conversations in a preferred order. A user may mark a message as important and move the marked message to the top of the inbox. Conversations may also be stacked together so that they may appear together and flow together in the inbox. Some actions may be performed automatically based on observed user behavior. Touch interactions may also be employed for interacting with and managing the conversations and quick controls may be provided for executing commands to perform actions associated with the conversations.
  • In the following detailed description, references are made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustrations specific embodiments or examples. These aspects may be combined, other aspects may be utilized, and structural changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the present disclosure. The following detailed description is therefore not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present invention is defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.
  • While the embodiments will be described in the general context of program modules that execute in conjunction with an application program that runs on an operating system on a computing device, those skilled in the art will recognize that aspects may also be implemented in combination with other program modules.
  • Generally, program modules include routines, programs, components, data structures, and other types of structures that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. Moreover, those skilled in the art will appreciate that embodiments may be practiced with other computer system configurations, including hand-held devices, multiprocessor systems, microprocessor-based or programmable consumer electronics, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and comparable computing devices. Embodiments may also be practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are linked through a communications network. In a distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote memory storage devices.
  • Embodiments may be implemented as a computer-implemented process (method), a computing system, or as an article of manufacture, such as a computer program product or computer readable media. The computer program product may be a computer storage medium readable by a computer system and encoding a computer program that comprises instructions for causing a computer or computing system to perform example process(es). The computer-readable storage medium can for example be implemented via one or more of a volatile computer memory, a non-volatile memory, a hard drive, a flash drive, a floppy disk, or compact servers, an application executed on a single computing device, and comparable systems. The term “server” generally refers to a computing device executing one or more software programs typically in a networked environment. However, a server may also be implemented as a virtual server (software programs) executed on one or more computing devices viewed as a server on the network. More detail on these technologies and example operations is provided below.
  • Throughout this specification, the term “platform” may be a combination of software and hardware components for providing a system to facilitate management of conversations in a communication application. Examples of platforms include, but are not limited to, a hosted service executed over a plurality of servers, an application executed on a single computing device, and comparable systems. The term “server” generally refers to a computing device executing one or more software programs typically in a networked environment. However, a server may also be implemented as a virtual server (software programs) executed on one or more computing devices viewed as a server on the network. More detail on these technologies and example operations is provided below.
  • According to embodiments, a client device may be a touch or gesture-enabled device, such that hand gestures and finger touch may be recognized as input methods on the user interface of the client device for interacting with, controlling, and providing content to the client device. The client device may also work with a traditional mouse and keyboard. A touch or gesture-enabled device may recognize touch actions such as a tap, a swipe, a pinch, expand, and a drag, as some examples. Touch actions, such a tap, swipe, pinch, expand, and drag, and other similar actions as used herein may be provided by a user through a finger, a pen, a mouse, or similar device, as well as through predefined keyboard entry combinations, a voice command, or an eye-tracking input.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates an example collaborative environment, where a system for managing conversations on a client device may be employed. In a collaborative environment, as demonstrated in diagram 100, a user 116 may employ a variety of different client devices to communicate with other users. For example, a communication application executed on the client devices may enable email exchange, instant messaging, voice over IP (VOIP), audio and video conferencing, and phone calls. The communication application may be executed on the client device, and may be connected with a server 114 and with other client devices over a network 112. The network 112 may be a wired or wireless network, or a cloud network. The server 114 providing the communications through the communication application may also provide other features accessible at the client devices over the network such as calendar applications, word processing applications, contacts management, and presence detection. The communication application and other applications may be integrated together to enable the applications to communicate with each other to exchange information for seamless coordination of communicating, collaborating, and information exchange.
  • Some example client devices for viewing emails may include a desktop computing device 104, a personal computer 106, a tablet 108, a smartphone 110, a whiteboard and other similar client devices. The client devices may be configured to enable touch and gesture interaction, such that the user 116 may interact with a document, or a conversation such as an email, viewed on the user's client device employing touch and gesture actions on the user interface of the client device.
  • In some example embodiments, a large quantity of emails and conversations may be received daily at a communication application. Example emails may include important business and personal emails, as well as less important emails, which may include shopping, news, entertainment, recreational, and other low importance emails. Other conversations may include emails to schedule meetings and conference calls, and to share documents. When the user 116 receives a large quantity of emails, the user 116 may need to be able to quickly sort through the user's inbox to quickly find, view, and reply to important emails.
  • In some scenarios, the communication application may be configured to display conversations, such as emails, in different configurations based on the type of computing device for optimizing how a user views and interacts with emails on the computing device. For example, a personal computer or desktop device may have more viewing space on the user interface such that a larger quantity of emails may be viewed at a time, as well as some detailed preview information about an email may be provided. A tablet or smartphone, however, may have a smaller user interface and thus more limited viewing space for displaying emails. Because of a smaller user interface, fewer emails may be displayed on an email application executed on a smart phone or tablet, and when the user 116 views emails on a tablet or smartphone, it may be even more difficult to parse through a large quantity of unread and unsorted emails quickly and efficiently. A user may desire to efficiently organize displayed conversations such that important conversations may be displayed, and other non-important conversations may be hidden until a later time.
  • A system according to embodiments may enable efficient management of conversations in the communication application. The system may enable conversations to be prioritized and an inbox to be reorganized to display important conversations in a desired order according to user preferences. The system may also enable conversations to be associated together so that they may be viewed together and may flow together on the user interface. Additionally, the system may enable a user to hide a conversation until a later time based on various criteria such as location, time, proximity to other people, and client device. The system may also enable a user to move important emails to the top of an inbox for prominent display. Furthermore, the system may enable touch and gesture interactions for interacting with the conversations to organize and prioritize conversations, and may provide quick touch controls for executing commands on an interface of the client device.
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate an example renew action of a communication application, according to some example embodiments.
  • As previously described, a communication application 202 may display a large quantity of conversations, such as emails, in an inbox 214. The conversations may include important work and personal emails, as well as less important emails such as entertainment and spam emails. A user may desire to view certain emails at certain times. For example, the user may desire to view work emails only during business hours or while at the office, and to receive personal and entertainment emails when at home and during evening non-business hours. Additionally, a user may desire to keep track of important messages. In some communication applications 202, a user may mark a message as important, such as with a red flag, and the user may scan the inbox 214 to look for the mark in order to find it again. Marked emails may be forgotten and/or lost as new messages are received, and the marked email moves further down a list of received messages in the inbox 214.
  • As illustrated in diagrams 200A and 200B, a system according to embodiments may enable a user to keep track of important messages by moving an important message to the top of the inbox 214 utilizing a renew action. The renew action may move the conversation to appear at the top of the inbox 214. In some cases, the renewed conversation may be made new again, or marked as unread, and in other cases, the renewed conversation may be moved to the top of the inbox 214 while maintaining a read state. Additionally, when the renewed conversation is moved to the top of the inbox 214, the conversation may be flagged to indicate that it was renewed. The renewed conversation may preserve an original timestamp so that the user knows when the conversation first arrived or was first initiated, and the renewed conversation may also receive an additional timestamp for when it is moved to the top of the inbox 214.
  • In some embodiments, the renewed conversation may continue to flow with other conversations in the inbox 214 as new conversations are received, and the renewed conversation may be renewed subsequent times to keep the conversation at the top of the inbox 214 as many times as a user desires. In effect, the renew action may mimic forwarding the conversation to the user's own inbox in order to move the conversation to the top of the inbox 214. However, the senders and recipients may remain the same when the conversation is renewed, unlike when the user forwards to himself and the user becomes the sender. The renewed conversation may also preserve original header and body without insertion of additional forwarding headers that are sometimes inserted when a conversation is forwarded. In another embodiment, the renewed conversation may be configured to remain at the top of the inbox for a period of time such that the renewed conversation may not to flow with other conversations in the inbox 214 as new conversations are received. The user may actively remove the renewed conversation from the top of the inbox 214 to enable the conversation to continue to flow with other conversations in the inbox. Additionally, the renewed conversation may remain at the top of the inbox for a predefined and customizable amount of time, and at the expiration of the period of time, the conversation may continue to flow with other conversations in the inbox.
  • In an example embodiment, as illustrated in diagram 200A, a user may select a message 208 from an inbox 214 list of messages that the user may desire to renew. For example, the user may desire to renew the message 208 if the user does not have time to read it currently, if the user wants to mark the message 208 for later follow up, if the user wants to keep the message 208 near the top of the inbox 214 as a reminder, or other similar scenario. The user may select the message 208 employing a touch action 222 such as a tap and hold, a horizontal swipe, or another swipe motion in a shape such as an L-shape, and a popup pane 220 may appear with a list of selectable actions to be executed on the selected message. The renew action 212 may be presented on the list of actions on the popup pane 220, and the user may perform a gesture to select the renew action 212. An example gesture may be to drag the message over the renew action 212 or to tap the renew action 212 while the message is selected. Other traditional input actions such as mouse, stylus and keyboard entries may also be utilized to select to renew the message.
  • As illustrated in diagram 200B, after the renew action has been selected to renew the selected message, the renewed message 230 may be moved to the top of the inbox 214 list. The renewed message 230 may receive a new timestamp 218 to indicate when the message was renewed, and the original timestamp 216 may be preserved to indicate when the message was originally received. The renewed message 230 may also be marked as important with a visualization icon 210 such as a star or flag so that as the renewed message flows with the messages in the inbox 214, the user can quickly scan and identify the renewed message in the inbox 214. A filter may also be provided to enable the user to select to view only renewed items in the inbox.
  • In another example embodiment, a toolbar 204 may be provided with the communication application 202 to enable quick actions to be taken. A renew option may be presented on the toolbar 204, and the user may select the message to renew the message and perform an input action to select the renew action from the toolbar 204. For example, the user may tap and hold the message to select the message, and may drag and drop the message over the renew action, or the user may tap the renew action on the toolbar 204 while the message is selected to renew the message.
  • In a further embodiment, the communication application 202 may be configured to automatically renew a message based on identified user behavior. For example, the system may automatically renew a message after a user begins a draft reply. The system may also automatically renew a message after the user begins reading the message. The system may detect reading of the message based on the user interaction with the message such as scrolling through the message through touch action 222 or moving a scrollbar in the reading pane of the message or detecting the user's eye lingering for a period of time on the message through eye detection. In another example, the system may automatically renew a message if an expected reply is not received. For example, the system may reason over content of the message to determine that a reply is likely expected, and then if no reply is received within a defined period of time, e.g. 48 hours, the message may be automatically renewed in the inbox 214 to remind the user to follow up. Furthermore, since a new timestamp may be received when a message is renewed, the system may enable sorting emails based on original timestamps and on renewed timestamps that may be received when a user modifies or renews a message.
  • In another example embodiment, a done action 232 may also be provided, where the user may select the done action 232 after interacting with a message to hide the message from the inbox 214 so that other important emails may be displayed. The user may mark a message as done by dragging the message to the done action 232 displayed on the popup pane 220, selecting the done action on the popup pane 220 while the message is selected, performing a swipe in a particular shape such as an L-shape, or by selecting a quick done action from the toolbar 204. The system may also automatically mark messages as done, for example after the user replies to a message, reads a message when a reply is not expected, or downloads attachments from a message. When the message is automatically marked as done, the message may be hidden from the inbox 214.
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate an example snooze action of a communication application, according to some example embodiments.
  • As previously described, a user may desire to organize messages displayed in a communication application 302 so that the user may view certain messages at certain defined times. For example, the user may desire to view work messages only during business hours or while at the office, and to receive personal and entertainment messages when at home and during evening non-business hours. The user may also desire to hide or minimize a message if the user does not have time to read the message, or wishes to wait to read it until the user is on a different computing device, near somebody with whom they need to discuss a message, in a meeting relevant to the message, or in a different location, or other similar reason. The user may select a snooze option to cause the message to be displayed at a later time based on a detected criteria selected by the user.
  • As illustrated in diagram 300A, a user may select a message 308 from an inbox 314 list of messages that the user may desire to hide or minimize the message 308 until a later time. For example, the user may wish to hide the message 308 if the user does not have time to read it currently or the user wants to read it on a different device, or other similar scenario. The user may select the message 308 employing a touch action 322 such as a tap and hold, and a popup pane 320 may appear with a list of actions that may be executed on the selected message. A snooze action 309 may be presented on the list of actions on the pane 320, and the user may perform a gesture to select the snooze action 309. For example, the user may drag the message over the snooze action 309 or tap the snooze action 309 while the message is selected. Other traditional input actions such as mouse, stylus and keyboard entries may also be utilized to select to snooze the message.
  • In another embodiment, a snooze option 306 may be presented on a toolbar 304, and the user may select a message and perform an action to select the snooze option 306 from the toolbar 304, such as tapping and holding the message to select the message, and dragging the message over the snooze option 306, or tapping the snooze option 306 on the toolbar 304 while the message is selected. Furthermore, when the user hovers over an email, a snooze icon may be temporarily displayed next to the message to enable the user to select the icon to snooze the email.
  • As illustrated in diagram 300B, after the snooze action has been selected to hide the selected message, a pane 310 may be displayed to provide a number of snooze options. The user may select to see the message based on a variety of criteria such as a different time and date, when the user is at a different location, when the user is logged in on a different device, when a certain user is detected, when the user is in a particular meeting, or other similar situation.
  • The list of snooze options may display a variety of different drop-down or write-in menus for enabling the user to select the snooze time. For example, the user may select the date 312 and time 316 to redeliver the message, and the user may also select a number of times and how often the message should be redelivered/displayed by setting a repeat 318 option. The user may select the message to be redelivered/displayed when the system detects the user is on a particular type of device 324. For example, the user may initially receive the message on the user's smart phone, and the user may snooze the email until the system detects the user is at a computing device such as a desktop or laptop. The snooze option may also be user 328 based, such that the user may select to snooze the message and resend the message next time the user is with a selected user or the selected user is logged in and able to receive messages. The user may be determined to be with the selected user based on presence detection, or the system may identify that the user is on a conference call or in a meeting with the selected user, and may redeliver the message.
  • Furthermore, the snooze option may be location 326 based, such that the user may select to snooze a message until the user is in a certain location such as a public location at home, or in the office. Additionally, the user may snooze a message to a specific meeting 330 or conference call. For example, the user may want to be reminded to talk about a particular message during the meeting or conference call, and the user may select to redeliver the message during the call or meeting to remind the user of the message. Another example may be to snooze the email based on received replies 332. The user may select to resend the message if a reply has not been sent within a defined period of time, e.g. within 48 hours of the initial receipt of the message. In another example, the user may customize the snooze option to select to resend the message unless a reply to the message has been sent by the user or another related message from another user has been received, so it may not be necessary to alert the user again about the message.
  • In an example embodiment, when a message has been snoozed, the message may become hidden from the inbox 314 of messages so the user can view and focus on other messages. When the message is redelivered, the message may preserve the original timestamp, and may receive a new timestamp at the time of redelivery. Additionally, the inbox 314 may display snoozed items in a snooze section above the inbox 314. For example, the user may scroll down to view messages received in the past, and the user may scroll up to view items that have been snoozed to a future time.
  • In another embodiment, the system may display time estimates for messages to provide an indication of a likely time it may take a user to read a message. For example, the system may parse received messages, and perform a word count and/or identify attachments to determine that a message may take a longer amount of time for the user to process, such as more than two minutes per message. A notification may be provided such as a popup window or icon indicating that the message may take the user a longer time to process, and the user may decide to snooze the message to a later time based on the time indication. Additionally, the system may automatically snooze a message until a later time based on the estimated time that it may take a use to read a message based on user defined settings. For example, the user may create a setting to automatically snooze any message with a word count over 400 words or that contains attachments to a specified time. In another embodiment, the system may observe user behavior to identify how a user addresses messages from certain senders, with particular subjects, different content, and varying lengths. Based on observed behaviors, the system may automatically choose to snooze certain messages to alternative times. Furthermore, the user may choose to snooze a message until the user has free time in his schedule to address the message, and the system may consult the user's calendar and automatically choose a time to resend the message based on an identified free timeslot in the user's calendar.
  • FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate an example quick toolbar and stack action, according to some example embodiments.
  • As previously described, a toolbar 404 may be provided with the communication application 402 to enable quick actions to be taken. As illustrated in diagram 400A, in addition to a renew action 422 and a snooze action 424 displayed on the toolbar 404 as previously described, the toolbar 404 may also display other actions. Some additional actions may be to create new messages 416, search 426 for content such as messages, events, and contacts using keywords, schedule events 420 associated with a calendar application, initiate an instant messaging 418 session or video conferencing session, a stack action 406, and other similar actions. The user may customize the quick actions that may be displayed on the toolbar 404 to display more, less or other actions the user prefers.
  • In an example embodiment, the stack action 406 may be selected to associate two or more messages (410, 408) together and to display the messages together, or stack the messages, in the inbox. For example, a user may select two or more messages (410, 408) concurrently from the inbox, and may select the stack action 406 from the quick toolbar 404. As illustrated in diagram 400B, the messages may be grouped or stacked 430 together under the most recently received message so that the messages appear and flow together in the inbox 414. A stack indicator 432 may be displayed next to the stacked messages to enable the user to quickly scan the inbox and identify a group of stacked 430 messages. While the example in diagram 400B shows stacking of email messages, other conversations can be stacked also, such as instant messages, recorded phone or video conversations, and the like.
  • The examples described above in FIG. 2 through 4 are shown with specific components, visualizations, and configurations. Embodiments are not limited to systems according to these example visualizations and configurations. Providing a system facilitating prioritization and management of conversations in a communication application 402 may be implemented in configurations employing fewer or additional components in applications and user interfaces. Furthermore, while the examples have been described in the context of messages, conversations such as emails, instant messages, and recorded audio and video conversations may be organized, prioritized, and arranged with similar actions as described above.
  • FIG. 5 is an example networked environment, where embodiments may be implemented. A system for a system to facilitate prioritization and management of conversations may be implemented via software executed over one or more servers 514 such as a hosted service. The platform may communicate with client applications on individual computing devices such as a smart phone 513, a laptop computer 512, or desktop computer 511 (‘client devices’) through network(s) 510.
  • Client applications executed on any of the client devices 511-513 may facilitate communications via application(s) executed by servers 514, or on individual server 516. An application executed on one of the servers may facilitate organizing and prioritizing conversations. The application may retrieve relevant data from data store(s) 519 directly or through database server 518, and provide requested services (e.g. document editing) to the user(s) through client devices 511-513.
  • Network(s) 510 may comprise any topology of servers, clients, Internet service providers, and communication media. A system according to embodiments may have a static or dynamic topology. Network(s) 510 may include secure networks such as an enterprise network, an unsecure network such as a wireless open network, or the Internet. Network(s) 510 may also coordinate communication over other networks such as Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or cellular networks. Furthermore, network(s) 510 may include short range wireless networks such as Bluetooth or similar ones. Network(s) 510 provide communication between the nodes described herein. By way of example, and not limitation, network(s) 510 may include wireless media such as acoustic, RF, infrared and other wireless media.
  • Many other configurations of computing devices, applications, data sources, and data distribution systems may be employed to implement a platform for providing a system facilitating organization and prioritization of conversations. Furthermore, the networked environments discussed in FIG. 5 are for illustration purposes only. Embodiments are not limited to the example applications, modules, or processes.
  • FIG. 6 and the associated discussion are intended to provide a brief, general description of a suitable computing environment in which embodiments may be implemented. With reference to FIG. 6, a block diagram of an example computing operating environment for an application according to embodiments is illustrated, such as computing device 600. In a basic configuration, computing device 600 may be any computing device executing an application for providing a system to facilitate organization and prioritization of conversations according to embodiments and include at least one processing unit 602 and system memory 604. Computing device 600 may also include a plurality of processing units that cooperate in executing programs. Depending on the exact configuration and type of computing device, the system memory 604 may be volatile (such as RAM), non-volatile (such as ROM, flash memory, etc.) or some combination of the two. System memory 604 typically includes an operating system 605 suitable for controlling the operation of the platform, such as the WINDOWS® operating systems from MICROSOFT CORPORATION of Redmond, Wash. The system memory 604 may also include one or more software applications such as communication application 622, a message management module 624, and an interaction detection module 626.
  • Communication application 622 may facilitate conversation exchange including emails, instant messages, and audio/video conferencing while a message assistant module 624 enables organization and prioritization of received messages based on user interaction. The message management module 624 may determine user intention based on detected user interaction at the interaction detection module 626 for actions to be taken on a selected one or more messages. The message management module 624 may automatically perform some actions based on detected user behavior and may provide indications to the user to enable the user to take actions based on the provided indications. The communication application 622, message management module 624, and interaction detection module 626 may be separate applications or integrated modules of a hosted service. For example, communication application 622 may be a browser accessing an email service and may be integrated with other content sharing applications such as instant messaging applications, video conferencing applications, and calendar applications. This basic configuration is illustrated in FIG. 6 by those components within dashed line 608.
  • Computing device 600 may have additional features or functionality. For example, the computing device 600 may also include additional data storage devices (removable and/or non-removable) such as, for example, magnetic disks, optical disks, or tape. Such additional storage is illustrated in FIG. 6 by removable storage 609 and non-removable storage 610. Computer readable storage media may include volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information, such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data. System memory 604, removable storage 609 and non-removable storage 610 are all examples of computer readable storage media. Computer readable storage media includes, but is not limited to, RAM, ROM, EEPROM, flash memory or other memory technology, CD-ROM, digital versatile disks (DVD) or other optical storage, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to store the desired information and which can be accessed by computing device 600. Any such computer readable storage media may be part of computing device 600. Computing device 600 may also have input device(s) 612 such as keyboard, mouse, pen, voice input device, touch input device, and comparable input devices. Output device(s) 614 such as a display, speakers, printer, and other types of output devices may also be included. These devices are well known in the art and need not be discussed at length here.
  • Computing device 600 may also contain communication connections 616 that allow the device to communicate with other devices 618, such as over a wired or wireless network in a distributed computing environment, a satellite link, a cellular link, a short range network, and comparable mechanisms. Other devices 618 may include computer device(s) that execute communication applications, web servers, and comparable devices. Communication connection(s) 616 is one example of communication media. Communication media can include therein computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, or other data. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, RF, infrared and other wireless media.
  • Example embodiments also include methods. These methods can be implemented in any number of ways, including the structures described in this document. One such way is by machine operations, of devices of the type described in this document.
  • Another optional way is for one or more of the individual operations of the methods to be performed in conjunction with one or more human operators performing some. These human operators need not be collocated with each other, but each can be only with a machine that performs a portion of the program.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a logic flow diagram for process 700 of providing a system for prioritizing and managing conversations in a communication application, according to embodiments. Process 700 may be implemented on a computing device or similar electronic device capable of executing instructions through a processor.
  • Process 700 begins with operation 710, where a plurality of messages received through a communication application may be detected. Operation 710 may be followed by operation 720 where a selection of a message from the plurality of messages displayed in an inbox of the communication application may be detected. The message may be selected employing touch and gesture input as well as through mouse, stylus and keyboard input.
  • Operation 720 may be followed by operation 730 where a selection of a renew action associated with the selected message may be detected. The renew action may be presented in a popup pane, and in other embodiments the renew action may be presented on a toolbar including actions for interacting with the communication application.
  • Operation 730 may be followed by operation 740 where the selected message may be displayed as a renewed message at the top of inbox. The renewed message may receive a new timestamp while preserving the original timestamp, and a renew indicator may be displayed adjacent to the renewed message.
  • The operations included in process 700 are for illustration purposes. Providing a system for management of conversations in a communication application may be implemented by similar processes with fewer or additional steps, as well as in different order of operations using the principles described herein.
  • The above specification, examples and data provide a complete description of the manufacture and use of the composition of the embodiments. Although the subject matter has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the subject matter defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described above. Rather, the specific features and acts described above are disclosed as example forms of implementing the claims and embodiments.

Claims (20)

What is claimed is:
1. A method to be executed at least in part in a computing device for managing conversations in a communication application, the method comprising:
detecting a plurality of messages received through the communication application;
detecting a selection of a message from the plurality of messages displayed in a chronological order;
detecting activation of a renew action associated with the selected message; and
displaying the selected message as a renewed message at a top of the chronological order.
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
displaying a list of selectable actions to be performed on a displayed message, the selectable actions including one or more of: the renew action, a done action, a snooze action, and a stack action.
3. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
displaying a new timestamp on the renewed message.
4. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
marking the renewed message with a visualization indicator.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein detecting the activation of the renew action associated with the selected message further comprises:
detecting selection of a renew option displayed on a toolbar provided on a user interface of the communication application.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein detecting selection of the renew option displayed on the toolbar further comprises one or more of:
detecting a touch interaction on the renew option while the message is selected; and
detecting a drag and drop of the selected message over the renew option on the toolbar.
7. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
automatically renewing a message based on an identified pattern of user behavior including one or more of: detection of a draft reply, detection of reading of the message, detection of an expected reply message not being received.
8. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
detecting selection of two or more messages displayed on a user interface of the communication application; and
detecting selection of a stack action displayed on a toolbar provided on the user interface of the communication application.
9. The method of claim 8, further comprising:
grouping the two or more selected messages together as associated conversations; and
displaying a stack indicator adjacent to the grouped messages.
10. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
detecting selection of one or more messages on a user interface of the communication application;
detecting activation of a done action displayed on one of: a popup pane and a toolbar; and
one of hiding and minimizing the one or more selected messages on the user interface.
11. The method of claim 1, further comprising
detecting the selection of the message and activation of one or more of: the renew action, a done action, a snooze action, and a stack action on a user interface of the communication application through one or more of: a touch input, a gesture input, a keyboard input, a mouse input, a pen input, a voice command, and an eye-tracking input.
12. A computing device for managing conversations, the computing device comprising:
a memory;
a display; and
a processor coupled to the memory and the display, the processor configured to provide a user interface associated with a communication application, wherein the communication application is configured to:
detect a plurality of messages received through the communication application;
detect a selection of a message from the plurality of messages displayed on the user interface of the communication application;
detect activation of a snooze action associated with the selected message;
display a list of snooze options associated with the selected message;
one of hide and minimize the selected message; and
display the selected message again based on a selected snooze option from the list of snooze options.
13. The computing device of claim 12, wherein the communication application is further configured to upon detection of the selection of the message, display a list of selectable actions, the selectable actions including one or more of: a renew action, a done action, a stack action, and the snooze action.
14. The computing device of claim 12, wherein the list of snooze options includes one or more of: a date option, a time option, a repeat option, a user based option, a location based option, a device based option, and a reply based option.
15. The computing device of claim 12, wherein the communication application is further configured to:
determine an estimated time for a user to read through a message based on at least one of: a word count, an expected reply, and a number of attachments; and
display the estimated time associated with the message.
16. The computing device of claim 12, wherein the communication application is further configured to enable user interaction through one or more of: a touch input, a gesture input, a keyboard input, a mouse input, a pen input, a voice command, and an eye-tracking input.
17. The computing device of claim 12, wherein the communication application is further configured to display a toolbar including one or more quick actions for interacting with the communication application, the one or more quick actions including at least one of: a renew action, the snooze action, a create new message action, a search action, a scheduler action, an instant messaging initiation action, and a stack action.
18. A computer-readable memory device with instructions stored thereon for managing conversations in a communication application, the instructions comprising:
detecting a plurality of messages received through a communication application;
detecting a selection of a message from the plurality of messages displayed on a user interface of the communication application;
displaying a toolbar including one or more quick actions for interacting with the communication application, the one or more quick actions including at least one of: a renew action, the snooze action, a create new message action, a search action, a scheduler action, an instant messaging initiation action, and a stack action;
in response to detecting activation of a renew action from the toolbar while the message is selected, displaying the selected message as a renewed message at a top of a chronological order;
in response to detecting activation of a snooze action associated with the selected message,
one of hiding and minimizing the selected message, and
displaying the selected message again based on a selected snooze option; and
in response to detecting activation of a stack action,
grouping the two or more selected messages together as associated conversations, and
displaying a stack indicator adjacent to the grouped messages.
19. The computer-readable memory device of claim 18, wherein the instructions further comprise:
in response to the activation of the snooze action, displaying a list of snooze options associated with the selected message; and
displaying the selected message again based on the selected snooze option from the list of snooze options, wherein the list of snooze options includes one or more of: a date option, a time option, a repeat option, a user based option, a location based option, a device based option, a calendar based option, and a reply based option.
20. The computer-readable memory device of claim 19, wherein the instructions further comprise:
enabling a user to customize the one or more quick actions on the displayed toolbar.
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