AOL is now taking beta invite requests for its new Alto email congregation tool. Not looking to compete outright with the likes of Gmail, Yahoo! or its own AOL client on the email front, Alto will instead act as a singular destination for users to check all their existing accounts at once. The service can also sync with your iCloud account, and AOL has stated that an iOS version of the Alto platform is in the works as well.
Alto looks to give your standard inbox browsing experience a visual twist by grouping your content into stacks based on a common theme. Emails including media (such as photos) will be grouped in one pile, social goings-on in another and so on. You can drag and drop emails into new piles if they end up going astray, and create custom groupings based on various criteria. If you really want to go all-out, you can even link up your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and keep track of all your social notifications from within Alto.
There's no word on whether Alto will eventually be supported by ads or a subscription model, but for now the service will be free for anyone who scores an invitation. The paid Sanebox service, mentioned last night, currently offers a similar pre-inbox filtering tool, starting at $2.04/month.