Gmail. Probably the most widely used free email service available. I use it, everyone here at MacTrast uses it, and you probably use it (or know someone who does). With the extreme popularity of Gmail, it’s no surprise that there are almost as many iOS email apps supporting the service as there are photo apps in the App Store.
But what about on the Mac? A search of the App Store yields only a handful of apps – most of which are pretty worthless (take my word for it). This leaves most users sticking with the stock Mail.app on the Mac, or using Gmail in their browser. Neither of these are the perfect solution, but a new app, launched today, is looking to create a native desktop experience out of the web-based email service.
Kiwi for Gmail: Overview
Kiwi ($9.99 in the Mac App Store), originally on Kickstarter as Gmail for Mac, is a Mac application that offers the ease of use of the Gmail desktop web interface, as well as Gmail’s customizations, features, and settings, but in a native Mac application. This means you get the same Gmail you’ve used in Safari or Chrome, but with the added beauty of desktop notifications, easy account switching, gestures, and more.
Getting started with Kiwi is super simple. Just sign in with your existing Gmail account(s), and you’re up and running. There’s no learning curve with Kiwi because it’s Gmail for the web, unleashed from the browser. This means you get all of Gmail’s (and Google’s) best features, instead of just a stripped down inbox. With Kiwi, you can use Google chat (Hangouts), access your Google Calendar, and even quickly access your Google Drive account.
After using Kiwi for the last few weeks, I’ve been very happy with the experience. Having been an avid email user on my iPhone and iPad, and avoiding email on my Mac, Kiwi has brought me back to using email on my most productive device. The quick access to all of my accounts, familiar interface, and desktop notifications all lead to a more productive email experience. Zive, the folks behind Kiwi, have also implemented a beautiful feature into Kiwi’s menu bar icon, allowing you to put email away when you really need to focus, without losing quick access to email when you need it.
Coined the Zen switch, Kiwi features an built-in “Do Not Disturb” mode, which allows you to silence all notifications from the app when you need to get things down, without silencing your entire Mac’s notification system. This switch then allows you to get to work, without the annoyance of email that can dramatically distract you from getting real work done.
Kiwi is currently offered in 2 verisons, Kiwi for Gmail Lite and Kiwi for Gmail. The lite version allows you to use the app with one (1) gmail account, and removes the Zen switch, and some notification controls. The full version of Kiwi allows up to six (6) separate Gmail accounts to be used, and supports all keyboard shortcuts, custom account colors, notification settings, and will soon support various Gmail plugins, as well.
Verdict: [rating: 4.5]
Kiwi is a fantastic desktop experience for Gmail, and offers the most True-to-Google experience available on the Mac. Their multiple account support, notifications, and Zen switch adds a layer to Gmail that isn’t easily achieved in the browser, without sacrificing all the Gmail features many of us have grown to love.
- Zero learning curve (because you’re interacting with the Gmail you’re used to)
- Multiple account support
- Desktop notifications (all or important only)
- Zen switch
- Some features load in a browser window, instead of within the app
- No way to view messages/inbox offline
If you’re a Gmail user, and especially if you use multiple Gmail/Google accounts, Kiwi is by far the best Mac app available for the most native Gmail experience, unpaired from the browser. Check it out in the Mac App Store today!