rothwell.im

by Jonathan Rothwell

Linkballs

Did you ever feel like email didn’t make it quite easy enough for clueless recruiters to send you unsolicited job offers or nebulous requests to “network”? Good news! LinkedIn have the answer for you.

[LinkedIn Intro is] a new product that shows you LinkedIn profiles, right inside the native iPhone mail client. That’s right: we have extended Apple’s built-in iOS Mail app, a feat that many people consider to be impossible. This post is a short summary of how Intro works, and some of the ways we bent technology to our will.

Yes, genuinely. Let’s briefly summarise:

  1. The world’s spammiest website has decided that it wants to stick quasi-business cards inside the deliberately simple and plugin-less email application on a phone.
  2. To do this allegedly ‘impossible’ feat,1 you need to redirect all IMAP traffic on your iOS device through one of LinkedIn’s proxy servers.2
  3. The proxy servers will take your mail, and rewrite it with a horrible CSS business card at the top.

Even by LinkedIn’s standards, this is embarrassing. It feels like a crude hack designed by an over-zealous student to show off. I could forgive it if it had any real utility, or even if it was more elegant, but the proposition is to break your email to allow LinkedIn to push their service.

No way.

  1. Mr Kleppman, who writes the blog post, repeatedly states that extending Mail.app is something ‘many people consider impossible.’ If he claims to have done it, perhaps he should not repeatedly state that it’s ‘impossible’—David Brent-esque middle managers speaking of ‘doing the impossible’ is bad enough, the last thing we need is software engineers saying it too.

  2. Never mind that LinkedIn had all of its poorly-hashed and unsalted passwords cracked and leaked a year ago. I can’t possibly consider the idea of letting an organisation with such a poor security record intercept all my mail mid-flight.