I backed Kiwi for Gmail which was originally called Gmail for Mac on Kickstarter, they asked for USD 20.000 and they got more than double of that USD 42.202, so people is really interested on finding a solution to better manage their Gmail accounts.
With a great opportunity in hands, the team of Zive composed by Eric Shashoua and Ryan Shetley, were supposed to make a clear statement with their product, unfortunately this didn’t happen, yet.
I say yet because while the tool falls very short on multiple aspects, it does offer a nice way of easily identifying the multiple accounts you might be using with one single Window, and at least on OS X it does offer some alerts and status icons on the top bar. But this is pretty much it, and something similar is offered by Gmail and Chrome, without even mentioning all the plugins that are available for Chrome.
You won’t find a great preferences menu to add all the flexibility you were still waiting for from Gmail, but maybe Eric and Ryan are still on time to really make things really attractive.
These are the core things I found the app is missing to really improve the Gmail experience:
It’s a pity that one of the main pinpoints of Kiwi for Gmail is that they call the App an “email client”. As such, you would expect the app to offer a flexible offline way of working, unfortunately it doesn’t.
With the app open, I tried to test its offline functionality by disconnecting my MacBook Pro from the internet, started to browse the mails on my inbox fine (no images or attachments are displayed or available though). As soon as I tried to click on the next page, the “Not connected. Connecting 41s (countdown)”appears on the top. The same happens if you try to switch to another folder.
I checked the short list of options in the preferences window, but really, nothing about offline. Lets say you closed your applications, the next day, you are on the plane heading for that important meeting, you open Kiwi for Gmail to see at least the last messages on your inbox…Good luck, a beautiful “This page can’t be displayed because your computer is currently offline” Retry? is displayed.
After making this test, I re-connected my computer to the internet, Chrome is navigating without any trouble, but even after hitting several times the “Retry” button on the App, Kiwi for Gmail, never connected back. The only way was to close completely the App and start it again.
Basically, there is no offline browsing option at all on Kiwi for Gmail.
Gmail offers you to write new emails in a new window if you press the Shift key and click on “Compose”. Kiwi for Gmail behaves exactly the same way, without even offering the option on the preferences pane to set this as a default.
Resizing label columns
Another thing I still dont understand why Google doesn’t still have it, is the possibility to resize the column where your labels sit. I have some labels with long names, a 27 inch screen with enough resolution to take advantage of more information, but not Gmail not Kiwi for Gmail offer this flexibility. Another miss.
Visible subject when replying
Replying or forwarding messages in Gmail, takes a minimalistic approach, if you don’t remember to check the Subject of your email, you might end up sending something without much sense or a Review subject of an email you previously sent to your boss. I would have expected Kiwi to offer the possibility to make the subject always available. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
All Mail label behavior
I use the All Mail label a lot, but every time I want to delete a message from this folder, I get a warning asking me if I am sure I want to delete this message as it is going to be deleted from all other views. Kiwi could have offered the possibility to get rid of this message.
To be honest, the back taste is a poor app, lack of specs that could have a lot of potential if they do it right. People need something different, mixed with all the benefits of Google Gmail. But if you offer the same, with just some not so great spices, people will feel very disappointed.
It looks like a poor integration of a browser inside an App Window to make it independent from Chrome. I think Eric and Ryan should review their strategy and check how they can really improve the app. I understand this could mean to really develop an entire real email client if they cannot make the additional suggested tools of the app with the current implementation, but maybe this is what is really needed to offer a better experience. At least before Google does it itself, or Microsoft continues to take over the PC market with their Outlook 2016, which in mobile works fantastically. Is it fair to compare an app of two entrepreneurs to giants like Google and Microsoft? Maybe not, but it’s the reality isn’t it?
I look forward to see improvements on the app hopefully very soon.