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Kiwi vs MailPlane vs Your Browser for Gmail on the Mac

MailPlane and Kiwi Logos

I’m kind of a sucker for Gmail apps. I really like Gmail, but I also like the look and feel of a desktop app. That’s when Kiwi for Gmail (formerly Gmail for Mac) was launched on Kickstarter, I was quick to jump in. I was hoping for something amazing, but I got something good instead.

Kiwi is a very good app. It does what it says it does, but it’s not amazing yet.

I don’t know what I was expecting from Kiwi, but my expectations were high. Quite a few people wondered how it’d be different from MailPlane and, as it turns out, it’s not that different at all; or not that I can tell. MailPlane is actually more polished and has more features. Kiwi is young though and it’ll be interesting to see how it grows up.

Here are a few areas that Kiwi falls short.

  • No way to copy a message URL so I can put it in a to-do app.
  • Google Docs and Google Calendar open in new windows which just creates more clutter. I like MailPlane’s calendar tab so we don’t have too many windows.
  • No keyboard shortcut to go back so I can’t map my mouse button to go back. It does have a swipe back gesture though.
  • No grammar check.
  • No way of seeing what’s in other accounts without clicking into them. This is a great timesaver that MailPlane has.
  • Nothing that really stands out. They claim the backend is amazing, but I’m not seeing how it sets itself apart.

Overall Kiwi is a good app, however I don’t feel it’s amazing. I don’t know if my expectations were too high or what, but I don’t feel it lives up to the hype.

MailPlane already exists and I can’t tell much difference between the two except for the polish MailPlane has. However, Kiwi is the new kid on the block and could easily start creating new features to distance itself from MailPlane.

At the end of the day, nether app is really that different from Gmail in your browser. Yes, they have pretty slick account switching, and maybe a few more OS integrations, but overall it’s just Gmail.

I actually prefer Gmail in Safari as Safari has the share menu and I can send my emails to Things or Wunderlist and create to-dos. Plus everything is in tabs and I have grammar check. If I want to break out of Safari, then my go to right now is MailPlane.

If you really want to separate from the web, check out AirMail and PostBox. Both are great apps that integrate really well with Gmail, but with a desktop app. The downside there is that you lose the look and workflow of Gmail which, we all kind of want, and it downloads everything to your computer taking up space.

At the end of the day, there really isn’t a bad app, it’s just some applications do things differently from others and it’s all up to personal preference.

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2 Responses

  1. Thomas, one thing Mailplane offers that Kiwi does not (though their staff has promised me is coming) is the ability to enlarge text. On a 27″ iMac the native Gmail interface is far from usable unless you are nearsighted, have 21-year-old eyes, or zoom in “EVERY” time you open it in Safari. Mailplane, however, allows you to zoom in to whatever text size you desire (for the entire Gmail interface) and the font size is sticky, even after closing Mailplane completely and re-opening it.

    I like Kiwi a lot and I think its developers will eventually add some features that might help distance it from Mailplane, but right now the main reason anyone will purchase Kiwi is its price point. They need to start making the improvements sooner rather than later, but I’m sure they wanted to get it into the MAS so they could begin making money on it. Let’s face it, Mailplane is VERY expensive for no more than it does. But then again, we’ve all purchased it so it must be worth it 🙂

  2. Henry Nielsen says:

    Yeah, it’s difficult to know why you’d buy this.. $10 is too much for a browser window around Gmail.

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