Have instant messaging tools killed email in China? Not quite yet.

According to Jo Liu, co-founder of productivity app Rush, the heyday of email is far from over, it just requires a facelift.

“Email or instant messaging, this shouldn’t be a single-answer option,” she says. The problem is how to let the two work together.”

There have been a few email clients that handle instant messaging, texting, and group chat. Rush, an app that connects email with messaging communities, is one of them.

The tool has all the trimmings of a typical mail app: support for all major email providers (Gmail, iCloud, Microsoft Exchange and other IMAP accounts), quick search among all mail with keywords or email addresses, automatic addition of email contacts, customized settings for mail, and badge notifications.

But Rush isn’t just an email client. “What we are doing is to let [users]  mail and chat, the two most popular forms of text communication, to play their own parts for the maximum results”, said Jo.


In addition to mail management, Rush allows users to switch from mail to an iMessage-like chat format to start a conversation. Users can reply with either an email or a chat message according to what they consider appropriate for the situation.

When a user chooses to adopt the chat model, the dialogue will be processed by IM protocol if the receiver is also a Rush client, shortening the processing time from email. The receiver will get a normal looking email if he or she hasn’t download the app.

Similar to WeChat, the hugely popular Chinese social networking app, Rush users can send voice messages as ‘chats’. However, in Rush, users can pause, rewind, and fast-forward voice messages, making it easier to replay them for note-taking. The app also lets users reply directly to a specific message and reference the original email to avoid confusion.

For people on multiple tasks, Rush offers a calendar feature, which helps keep all members in a group to stay on the same page. Rio, an intelligent assistant, pings you when other members change their schedule, keeping users updated with events for more efficient teamwork.

Security is a top priority in the internet age. “Aside from password protection, Rush also uses the standard SSL security protocol to ensure data safety amid transmission”, Jo said.

Founded in February 2015 by Xu Zhe, founder of online service Doit.IM, Rush launched in May this year with its eyes on China and the international market. The startup team now has more than 50 employees working from three offices across Tokyo, Beijing, and Hangzhou.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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