I just read an interesting article on examiner.com entitled Email 2.0 A New Recipe for an Old Service. The author, Adam Kochanowicz, has some good suggestions on features that would be great added to email such as real time messaging, inportability, and improved multimedia. I have a few more suggestions on features email needs to have to get to the next level.
1. Easy encryption and sender verification signing. SSL for email is too complex for many day to day users. We need a cross platform system that is truly built into major email clients and mobile devices that will allow us to encrypt important data and verify that a sender is who they say they are. I always like to say that email is more like a postcard than a letter. With identity theft and phishing so widespread encryption and sender verification is important, it's just not easy.
2. Server side SPAM controls built into a new SMTP protocol. Sender verification needs to be improved. Traditional SMTP does not have any sender verification. Today most organizations use SPAM control appliances and things like DNS SPF records to help block SPAM, but its still managed outside of the SMTP protocol. Something's missing, hardly surprising since the SMTP RFC 281 was originally written in 1982.
3. A control panel with the ability to link and unlink accounts and inboxes. Users need to have multiple accounts for email as well as all sorts of social media accounts. Work email and personal email should not be mixed together, to keep users privacy, and corporate ownership of company data. However, wouldn't it be nice to have one control panel where you can see a feed of emails accounts(s), instant messages, Twitter Tweets, Facebook updates, and whatever else data you can't live without a constant stream thereof? Well - nice for those who love to be constantly plugged in and in touch. I would like that control panel to be easy to customize and turn off when you need to unplug as well.