A new service from AwayFind lets you ignore your inbox without worrying that you’re going to miss an important message. It’s one of those ideas that seems so obvious, you’re left wondering “why didn’t someone think of this already?”

With the new service and its optional web browser plugin, you’re able to configure alerts for critical, “can’t miss” email messages and can choose to have those alerts sent to you via instant message, Twitter, SMS text message or even a phone call.

AwayFind 2.0

The new service, dubbed AwayFind Orchant, is an expansion of AwayFind’s core product, an email alerts service that helps you deal with the very real-world problem of information overload. With the original product, AwayFind 1.0 (previous coverage), people who email you are directed to your AwayFind contact page where they can fill out a brief form describing the nature of their emergency. Those who do so will be rewarded by having their message actually reach you, either via text message or via an email to another inbox, even though you’re away from your primary email account at the time.

However, that auto-responder, while nice to have, put the burden on those contacting you to make sure their message was read. It also allows any person to reach you, even if you don’t consider the message urgent or important. (Case in point: you would be surprised how many PR professionals decided to use the AwayFind service to pitch me “urgent” news about some startup!)

With the new service, you are back in control. You designate which emails are important. This configuration takes place during the setup process where you specify filters similar to those you already use to sort messages into folders or labels in your inbox. With these filters in place, you’re telling AwayFind how to identify which messages are important to you. For example, you could filter for any message from your boss, messages containing the word “urgent” in the subject, messages sent to a specific email address, messages sent to your project team from the team leader, etc.

You can then specify what actions AwayFind should take in order to alert you. You can choose to be contacted via IM (AIM, MSN, Yahoo Messenger and Google Talk are supported), Twitter, another email address, a SMS text message or a voice phone call. You can also configure other options, like which auto-responder template to send when a message matches a specific filter. You can even specify if there is someone who shouldn’t get your auto-response while everyone else does – perfect for playing hooky without the boss catching wind!

Web Browser Plugin Brings Filtering to the Inbox Itself

All of this configuration is done from AwayFind’s online service but you can also configure settings from the place where you spend the most time: your inbox. This is where the Firefox plugin comes into play. After installation of the plugin, a small arrow appears next to a contact’s name in an email message. When clicked, you’re provided with options so that you can set up a filter for that sender instantly, including how you want to be notified (Twitter, IM, phone, etc.).

Requirements and Future Plans

At the moment, the new service supports Gmail and Google Apps accounts, all IMAP accounts (think me.com, mac.com, aim.com, etc.), Hosted Exchange 2003, 2007 and 2010 accounts (assuming Exchange Web Services is supported, which is usually the case), and in the near future, full Yahoo support will arrive. The web browser plugin only works in Firefox right now but a Chrome plugin is just weeks away. Plans for an Outlook plugin are in the works, too.

Also, in the case of Gmail/Google Apps, the plugin uses oAuth which means that it doesn’t need to request your password. However, for the other connections you’ll need to provide your password plus your account settings where applicable.

This service is currently in private beta, but we have 500 invitations to give away. Just click here to sign up.