Forget the redesigned homepage and the inevitable controversy it will create, Facebook's next feature might actually be something its users will adore.
TechCrunch reports that Facebook is overhauling its message service and turning it into full-blown e-mail. Remember when everyone scrambled to get a vanity Facebook URL last June? Your Facebook e-mail address could be vanityURL@facebook.com. The so-called "Project Titan," launch date unknown, would also include POP/IMAP support for checking mail outside of Facebook.
That's a good start, but here are five other features I'd like to see in Facebook e-mail:
Here's where Facebook e-mail could really flourish: The site already lets you divide friends into distinct lists, such as friends, family and work. An e-mail service could sort incoming messages accordingly, letting you check separate inboxes even when everything's going to the same address.
Checking e-mail is often the first thing I do when switching on my computer or fiddling with my phone. Give me a convenient URL for direct Web access, such as facebookmail.com, so I don't have to hit my Facebook landing page first. Also, a mobile app that loads right into Facebook mail woud be helpful.
As a Gmail user, I'm now addicted to the way it combines all e-mail messages on a single topic into one conversation thread. Facebook already does the same thing with its message service, making me confident that the feature would carry over into e-mail. But those who despise threading should have the option to turn it off.
Pull in Facebook Info
A Facebook e-mail service should make it simple to pull Facebook information directly into messages. Someone wrote something ridiculous on my wall? Give me a button that lets me easily find and link to it. Same goes with photos and albums, which should appear as thumbnail previews in messages.
Manage Everything From E-Mail
If Facebook becomes my e-mail service, it should make administrative tasks easier. Approving friends, sending event RSVPs, and responding to wall posts should all be possible directly from e-mail, without ever visiting a separate Web page.