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AOL Unveils “Project Phoenix,” Its New Webmail App

AOL this afternoon unveiled an updated web client for e-mail, which it says accounts for 45% of all its page views. The announcement and new features have arrived just one day before Facebook is expected to announce an e-mail solution of its own.

The new e-mail app — currently called “Project Phoenix” — is in beta testing with just a few users, but it will launch to the public next year sometime. It’s part of a recent spat of AOL moves to reinvigorate a once-great brand that has recently been eclipsed by newer ventures like Google and Facebook.

The company recently launched a Groupon-like group-buying site and acquired the popular tech blog TechCrunch — those are just a couple of its recent moves. The webmail redesign is a particularly notable move because of that 45% figure we just mentioned.

According to CNET, the new design “looks a lot like Gmail” with some extra features added in, such as a quick bar for easily writing and sending short e-mails. There’s also a new Twitter-like side bar called “Smart View” for previewing the contents of e-mails and their attachments, as well as maps, conversation threads and other data.

Phoenix supports e-mail addresses on the AOL-owned domains,,, and, and it will also bring in messages from Yahoo Mail, Hotmail or Gmail. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can go to the Project Phoenix website and request an invite, but you’ll be waiting a little while

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