Email can be a burden. Whether you're sitting at your desk obsessively checking your inbox for that special email while you should be doing other things or you're surreptitiously glancing at your smartphone while you're out on the town, it can be a constant distraction. Would phone calls have made it this far if you constantly had to ask your device "is someone calling me?"
Enter AwayFind, a Web-based service that lets you escape your inbox by alerting you to those critical, "can't miss" messages. And today, AwayFind leaves beta with the arrival of an iPhone app that makes separating yourself from your email account easier than ever before.
The original version of AwayFind simply offered those people trying to reach you via email other options if they considered it urgent or important enough. Last March, the company launched "AwayFind Orchant", bringing users a new level of configurability in the form of customizable alerts. Whenever an email met a certain criteria (coming from @readwriteweb.com, for example), it would let you know via a number of methods - SMS, Twitter, a number of chat services or even by calling you up and reading it to you aloud.
That core service remains unchanged today, but now iPhone users get an app. The iPhone app does three major things. First, when you receive an alert via Twitter or SMS or any of the other methods, it only includes an excerpt of the important email, so you usually need to then switch over to an email program to read it. The AwayFind app lets you read the entire email...and then switch to an email app if you need to reply. Secondly, the app lets you set up filters while you're on the go. Third, the app now offers you native push notifications. You no longer need to have AwayFind send you a direct message on Twitter and then hook up to BoxCar to get the notification. It all happens in one app.
In addition to an iPhone app, the company has taken AwayFind out of beta and introduced three pricing plans, from the free, "tell me within 10 minutes" version to the $119 per year, "I need to know of important emails in under a minute" plan.
I've been using AwayFind in beta since last March and it helps to make sure that the important emails never go unseen. Now, with SSL security features, branding and Microsoft Outlook and Exchange support on the way, AwayFind might be able to gain some traction among the business crowd. Today, AwayFind opens up from private beta and you can sign up for free to see what it's like. Then, once you're in, download the iPhone app and leave your email behind - AwayFind will handle the rest.