About this project
We love Gmail for all it does to make email friendly and more human. But Google hasn’t built an app for Gmail on the desktop like it has on iOS and Android.
Apps like Outlook and Mail wipe away all the unique power of Gmail, leaving many of us to do on the desktop what we’d never want to do on our phones - use it in the browser, buried in the chaos of web browsing.
We’d dreamed of turning Gmail into a powerful, fluid email client that not only makes Gmail easier to use, but goes way beyond and makes a beautiful statement about what email itself could be like.
After 18 months, it’s now almost here. We just need your help to launch.
In building a humanized email client, we wanted to acknowledge basic truths -- like that many of us have more than one Gmail account (personal, school, work, etc). We wanted you to avoid having to sign in over and over every time you close your browser or restart your computer, and we wanted it to work all the time, flawlessly.
Google has struggled to make this work well at all in the browser, where you frequently get signed out at random and generally have a poor experience. We spent months developing and refining a new technology that allows it to "just work" work all the time, without sign-ins or typing or any extra effort on your part.
USE YOUR EMAIL WITHOUT BEING BURIED BY IT
A huge piece of what we wanted to do with Gmail for Mac was to radically simplify the effort and "cognitive burden" of using your email. It's something we do all day long, all the time, and it should be as easy as breathing.
We've made radical new ways - entirely unique to our client - for filtering out the noise of email alerts and unread counts that come at you all day long. We've also honed the user experience so that nearly everything you do constantly can be reached in a single click or gesture (navigating your email, writing a new message, opening your inbox, etc). This is the kind of iOS-like focus & simplicity that has liberated us all on mobile. We wanted to do that for email on the desktop.
SIMPLE. POWERFUL. BEAUTIFUL.
The difference between using Gmail in the browser and Gmail in our streamlined and powerful app is enormous, and ultimately one we feel will make your email life easier and more friendly.
The guys behind Zive are Eric Shashoua and Ryan Shetley, but we've been joined by an amazing team of designers and developers who share the same idealistic dream of beautiful, simple, and obsessively designed software. We believed we could make a real difference in some of the tools people use most often by making them beautiful, seamless, and effortless on a level that’s encountered too seldomly outside of Apple. We wanted to build a company where the work itself mattered more to us than the bottom line or any traditional goal of business. And ... we wanted it to be human.
Our team brings to Zive 10+ years of experience designing and developing software and consumer electronics, as well as developing for iOS and the Mac. As the former CEO / Co-Founder of Zeo, Inc., Eric raised $14M in venture funding and had a chance to work with the leaders of Bose and iRobot in learning how to design products that are truly focused on the user. Zeo’s products have been marketed and sold throughout the US and Europe, and have led to being called out to Cupertino in connection with being featured in Apple Stores. Ryan brings to our bold and scrappy team a novel approach to technology, where engineering effort is focused intensely on the user experience rather than the usual product development approach. The rest of our team consists of awesome and intensely passionate designers, a couple artists, and folks who've spent years developing for and falling madly in love with the Mac.
Disclaimer: Though we love Gmail and we love the Mac, Zive is not affiliated in any way with either Google nor Apple and is an independent third party. Gmail for Mac, by Zive, is a product made entirely by Zive, Inc. and no other company.
We need your help! Where the funds go:
We already have a polished alpha, but we've started this Kickstarter to get to launch. What that means:
- Beta testing phase before launch
- OS X 10.10 Yosemite upgrade completion
- Possible Inbox by Google integration
- Community to help us test, give feedback, and ... well, we just think you guys would be awesome even if you do none of that.
- Marketing funding to help get the word out at launch
So, we're after supporters, a few enthusiastic folks to help us beta test, and launch funding to help kick off the product launch. Please join us and become a part of our bold dream to elevate Gmail to a whole new level!
For your support of us, we've lined up what we think would be really great rewards for anyone who joins on -- starting with a copy of the full version of Gmail for Mac! Take a look at our rewards right on this page!
And thank you for supporting Gmail for Mac, by Zive!
Risks and challenges
While most kickstarters launch with a concept or prototype, we feel that most of the risk in our project has already been mitigated by having moved far beyond that stage to an alpha version of Gmail for Mac, by Zive.
Launch Timing: With any software development, there are potential risks in unforeseen variables causing delays in launch. While this is always a possibility, we don't expect this to play a significant role given the stage we're at. We have already made a tremendously detailed effort to create a streamlined and extremely reliable application.
We feel confident that we could launch Gmail for Mac not long after the conclusion of our Kickstarter.
Experience: We've done this before successfully a few times over, and our team has extensive experience designing, building, and selling software through Apple's app and retail stores.
This is the only project we are running, and has the undivided attention of our team.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We actually envisioned what we were doing from the beginning as a way to complete the Gmail mobile app experience on the desktop. We think Google's made pretty decent apps that bring its features to life on tablets and phones, in a way that thoughtfully takes advantage of what the mobile platform has to offer. We wanted that same approach to extend to the desktop, taking advantage of unique things the desktop environment gives you. So ideally we would recommend Google's Gmail apps on mobile to complement ours on the computer. That way you have the same email experience and convenience on both mobile and the computer (labels, important flags, signatures, Google-powered search, consistent method of unread counts in each place, etc).
But there are other great apps for email on mobile that will work well too. Above would simply give you the most seamless and consistent email experience in all three places, without having to resort to a vanilla email app that hides Gmail's power (like Mail).
No, we are not a standalone browser with Gmail in a window. If it were that easy, we probably wouldn’t have felt any excitement about doing this. In fact, a huge part of our motivation for what we’ve done was to specifically not do that, because it just doesn’t really work.
[How SSB’s Don’t Work]: Why they don't work is complex and turns out to be a pretty difficult problem to solve, but merely using a single-site browser winds up breaking many of Gmail’s features, has spill-over effects with the actual browser (especially on OS X), winds up with very poor support of multiple accounts, and doesn’t integrate well with the desktop environment at all. The few times people have attempted this, it’s resulted in a poor Gmail experience, in an app that’s wound up being a kind of poor hybrid between a browser and an email client; not that good at either one. That really bothered us.
[What We’ve Built]: Our application takes Gmail and puts it inside an app that is robust enough to serve as a desktop replacement for Mail, Outlook, AirMail, or Mailbox, which no one has done before on the desktop. It has three components: (1) A heavily modified browser component, tailored in hundreds of ways specifically for Gmail, (2) a separate, full email client that sits around that browser component and makes much of our app work, and (3) an interface layer that seamlessly integrates those two pieces (a) with eachother, and (b) with the desktop environment. We have created a truly high-fidelity desktop experience for Gmail -- as a desktop email client -- and without compromising its many wonderful and powerful features as all traditional desktop email clients do (labels, google-powered search, third-party plugins, hangouts, inline response buttons, accurate threading, multi-colored stars, etc).
[Details]: While we’ve done this, we’ve built it with an almost fanatical obsession to get every detail to work to an extremely high degree. Along the way, we did things like invent a new way to implement multiple accounts that is entirely different from the “multiple sign-in” method Google uses in the browser, and is dramatically more reliable. We’ve made many small details of the app work better than they do in the browser — for instance, desktop notifications, which don’t reliably fire when using Gmail in Safari or other browsers, are rock-solid in our app.
[Desktop Power]: We were also extremely passionate about taking advantage of what the desktop has to offer to create a pure and expected desktop-fidelity experience. A browser makes a poor desktop app. It doesn’t work well as a default email client, for one. We also wanted things like dragging on attachments, windows, the file system, gestures, etc, to all integrate with the app flawlessly like you’d expect, without breaking dozens of UI paradigms Apple has so elegantly established in OS X.
[Merciful UI]: And lastly, as passionate as we’ve been about the technology under the hood, creating a streamlined, robust, and beautiful UI has been as much a point of intense excitement and passion in our team as the rest. We’ve applied so much into this, partly to make it appealing, and partly to make it diminish the painful cognitive burden of email that appears so often. One example of that is creating an intuitive visual hierarchy of information in the dropdown and elsewhere, following Edward Tufte principles, to not overwhelm the user with information they don’t need.
We know that’s a long, passionate answer, but we hope it clears things up. There’s a big difference between building an app that kind of works but breaks a lot, and one that is so dependable you can’t live without it. We love the idea of making something robust, beautiful, and engaging. And that’s what we’ve poured all of our love and energy into here. We think people deserve that, especially for email.
Yes, we do! We think this is one of the many awesome things about Gmail. Please see the answer below for more info on this.
Please message us or leave a comment letting us know about any plugin that's made you feel that way. We want to know. We think one of the most awesome things about Gmail is that people have built so many truly great third-party plugins for it. What's surprised us is that there are more than we were aware of.
We won't be able to integrate every plugin right away, but our plan is to quickly begin integrating them into our app as fast as possible - while carefully testing them to make sure you have a quality experience using them. We'll plan on starting with the most popular and frequently used plugins out there, but we don't want to leave it to just those. There are a lot of great emerging apps we've learned about, and we want to integrate those too.
Right after our campaign closes, we'll be reaching out to our alpha backers to get you early versions of the app.
Also, Zive loves you guys :)
We get this question a lot :) We wanted to launch on Mac first, and truly poured ourselves into building something that melds beautifully and seamlessly into the power and beauty of OS X. But we also know Windows, and do feel it likely that we'll port our app to that OS too. Part of how we've built it has been to make this easy to do from a technical standpoint. But we'll want to also spend time to make it meld into the Windows environment with the same care and attention to detail that we've been able to do on the Mac.
Yes we are! We think retina screens are gorgeous. We spend about half our time on non-retina screens and retina screens in order to fully appreciate the app in both places, and make it beautiful on both (which is more involved than just doubling an image size, as a careful study of Mac OS X design can show).
We wanted to make our app one of the few that satisfyingly stands out for its beauty and crispness on a retina display.
I mean -- we're obsessed with making our app really beautiful and gorgeously melded into the OS X aesthetic, so of course we'd not forget about all you retina folks :)
We love how great the app looks on OS X - will you change the look to match Yosemite's new aesthetic?
Yes, but we'll keep the older look for older OS's. This is something we're actively working on right now. We launched our Kickstarter literally days after Yosemite was finally released, and appreciate many of the ways Apple has modified it to reinvent an appealing design.
We are building the app so it will have a new look that melds seamlessly into OS X Yosemite just as it did in older versions of OS X. Our purpose in keeping the old look on older OS's is so it will still look just as good on those older versions as you see in our images.
Creating a design that beautifully melds into the OS X design aesthetic has been almost an obsession for our team and our designers.
(See FAQ - "Is this just a single-site / standalone browser?" above)
There are a handful of apps out there that allow you to try to use Gmail as a standalone program on the desktop, and we fully agree with their vision of trying to take Gmail out of the browser so you can use it as a desktop app. But while this was their aim, our motivation to build Gmail for Mac, by Zive grew as a direct result of our frustration with both a user experience and level of technical quality that we felt was ultimately lacking.
Technically, by far most of the difference between our app and these is due to the fact that under the hood, our app isn't based on as a single-site browser implementation like theirs are. The "Is this just a single-site / standalone browser application?" FAQ question describes the limitations of these apps very well as a result. Much of the very hard work we've done over the past 18 months has been to take a completely different approach, which uniquely suited to turning Gmail into a high-fidelity desktop application.
In terms of features, there is much that is different as well. We have a uniquely streamlined, intuitive, and graceful UI, we have important-only notifications, entirely unique multiple accounts implementation, actual Drive attachment support, and desktop integration is either more robust or entirely unique to our app compared to these others, we let you use the app as a default email client, and there are many details beyond these. In the best of these other apps, using basic Gmail features like Hangouts or Google+ will cause instability in the app or make it crash. Few have a thoughtful separation between the app itself and the browser either.
We know some people have sworn by these apps for many years. We understand that -- for a long time they were the only way to get Gmail out of the browser and use it like it should be -- as a desktop application. We agree with their goal. We just wanted to pour our hearts and souls into making that experience as dependable and detailed as humanly possible, which has been a burning passion of ours for more than a year now. We think you'll love what we've built.
If you'd believe it, much of what we've done has been a work of love and passion much more than it's been about trying to build a business to make money. We wanted to do something that we truly would do even if we never got paid a dime. That kind of passion is hard to find, and most people don't really believe it exists until they find it for themselves. But that's honestly what this is for us. For more than a year, we've fallen asleep at nights not dreaming of any traditional goals of business, but instead dreaming of colors and buttons and many of the intricate details of Gmail and Mac OS X, and how to marry them together.
Our passion really comes from years building software and consumer products, and finally something clicked and we decided we felt the industry mostly has the approach wrong. Products aren't really designed with the user experience in mind. Most big tech companies now seem to say the right things, like "design is important", but that doesn't seem reflected in their products. We feel that budgets and timelines tend to be the hidden masters behind most products that are built, and we feel that -- especially for the first version of a product -- those are the wrong priorities. We started our company because we wanted to fix what we felt the industry has wrong in many ways, and we wanted to start with email. We feel that the products we build could really help people, and we take great joy in building software that's as much a work of art as it is an indispensable tool. We think beauty matters because life is bigger than work.
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