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Feb 15, 2022

Introducing Shortwave: Actually Enjoy Your Inbox

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

5 min read


Today, we're launching Shortwave, a brand new experience for your Gmail account. Shortwave helps you email smarter and faster, so you can not only be more productive, but actually enjoy your inbox. You can sign up for Shortwave today and get started for free.

Let's face it – your email isn't working for you

You aspire to hit Inbox Zero, but in practice emails just fall off the end of your inbox. Were you supposed to respond to that? Too late now! I guess they'll text you if it mattered. You've tried priority inbox, "splits", filters, and every other setting you can find. You've memorized keyboard shortcuts and fly through your inbox mashing "e", barely reading the content. More. Faster. You've got this.

Except you don't "got this". Inbox Zero remains elusive. You're tracking so much in your head. Which emails are urgent? Which ones do you still need to respond to? You have an ever-growing number of SaaS notifications. Long threads are hard to follow. Did someone reply privately in this group thread? Did an attachment get dropped when they added you?

You're drowning.

Email smarter, not just faster

The problem isn't you – it's your email client!

Shortwave brings order to the chaos. We've completely redesigned email from the ground up so you can stay calm, focused, and in control.

Shortwave treats email like the to-do list that it really is, so you don't have to track everything in your head. Pin urgent emails to the top of your inbox in one click. Re-order threads to stay prioritized. Stack and label related threads to keep them together. Inbox Zero might be impractical every day, but Inbox Organized happens without breaking a sweat.

Our secret weapon is called bundles. They automatically group related emails and let you act on them all at once. Old calendar notifications? Gone. Asana updates? Bam. Newsletters? Oh wait, you do want those: snooze the whole bundle until your flight with one tap.

Bring clarity to complex threads

Long group email threads can be tricky. When were people added and removed? How many different conversations are really going on? What happened before you were added? Shortwave's clear and compact thread UI shows you what you need to know, and nothing else.

Write beautiful emails

Shortwave helps you communicate clearly and intelligently without sacrificing speed. With mentions, you can modify recipients without taking your hands off your keyboard. Markdown text shortcuts make it easy to format your messages, and our Giphy and emoji support let you add some flair. We've optimized for common actions, like referencing a recent thread, finishing a draft, quoting text, or adding a photo.

Work together

Shortwave is great for teams. At work, you email external people all the time: customers, vendors, job candidates, and more. Many of these threads are important to your teammates too, and with Shortwave it's easy to loop in a single colleague or your whole team.

When collaborating on a thread, you can see who's online and who's typing, making it easy to know when to jump in. Emoji reactions let you respond quickly and have a little fun too. Unlike Gmail, if you were added later on, we show you the previous messages in their entirety, including attachments, inline images, formatting, and recipients.

We're bringing channels to email. Channels are topic-based spaces where you can share threads with your team. Start a new thread to have a thoughtful discussion. Add an existing thread into a channel to share that thread – including its history – with your team, so they can follow along, respond, and see it in their search results. Channels let you unify both your internal and external communications into a single inbox, so it's easier for everyone to stay caught up.

We're just getting started

When I started Firebase in 2011, serverless apps were a radical new idea – today, they're standard practice. It took years for us to win people over, but seeing early adopters fall in love with Firebase gave us the conviction we needed. We're already seeing the same early signs with Shortwave. Email is making a comeback.

"Shortwave's UX feels fast and joyful! It makes email less of a chore and lets me focus on my actual work."

Phillip Wang, CEO, Gather

It's going to be a long journey, but we're prepared and resourced for it – and we won't stop until email is hands-down the best, easiest, and most enjoyable way for you to communicate online (and not even then). To set our company up for this long-term mission, we've built an exceptional team, including many early Firebase employees. We've also partnered with some of the smartest investors in the world. We raised a $9M Series A led by Union Square Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Flybridge, James Tamplin, Immad Akhund, Peter Reinhardt, Oliver Cameron, and others.

We had a lot of fun building Shortwave, and we hope you enjoy your new inbox! To get started with Shortwave, all you have to do is sign in with your Gmail account or check out our Shortwave Method to learn more.

We'd love to hear your feedback at or on Twitter.

Happy emailing!

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