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Hey.com Launch and Apple Troubles - Rui Zhi Dong

Hey.com Launch and Apple Troubles

The Beginning of a War

When it comes to the next big thing in email, Hey.com looks very promising.

One thing I’m somewhat surprised about is that this innovation hasn’t come out of the Gmail team. I would be curious what the reason for that is.

Hey.com seems to actually deliver what Superhuman promises (but doesn’t actually achieve) to process emails better. In which case, this would be the biggest innovation in email since Gmail in 2004.

Here’s their introduction:

Invites Only

At this stage, it’s invites only until its launch next month and they’re sending out a lot of invites to people that registered early but evidently not enough since Hey.com Invites are being sold for a few hundred dollars online.

Hey.com Email Invitation Code on eBay

Hey.com Pricing

They’re currently priced at $99/year (annual only pricing available at the moment) which is cheaper than Superhuman at $30/month.

You get:

  • A Hey.com email address
  • Built-in workflows
  • Apps for platforms (sort of)
  • Spy pixel blocking
  • 100GB Storage
  • Privacy

Hey.com Features AKA Hey Way Manifesto

A few of the features in brief:


It doesn’t take emails from Gmail etc. It’s its own platform

No Notifications

You only get emails in your Inbox from people that you’ve already approved. You don’t see “unread” numbers like you do on Gmail. Notifications are off by default.

Less Emails

You start fresh with a new Hey.com account without migrating existing emails, you decide who gets to email you, and you control what you see in your inbox.


Hey.com tries to remove all the trackers in email that can tell the sender when you’ve opened an email, your location, etc. They charge a flat fee of $99 per year instead of “paying with your privacy and personal data”.

Rename Subjects

You can rename threads with more descriptive, non-generic names.

Read features here.

David Takes On Goliath

Speaking of billing, Hey.com bills through their own platform.

However, Apple wants them to bill through the App Store (so that they ca capture their percentage) which Hey.com isn’t happy about doing.

So David (Basecamp/Hey CTO) launched a tirade on Twitter:

Apple’s Playground
Burn the House Down


There are a few threads on Twitter that suggested this whole thing might be a publicity stunt to which David had this to say:

As well as people saying that Basecamp should have known.


You can get more details here and Jason’s response here.

It’s now been picked up on a lot of the major news outlets including NYT, FT, BBC, The Verge and so on.

How this showdown between Basecamp and Apple will play out will be interesting since services revenue is a key pillar of its future growth and if Apple relents on this, it may open up the flood gates for everyone else on the App Store.

UPDATE: It seems that the update has now gotten approved.

Getting Started

The Screener

You gotta say “Yes” first

Before anyone arrives in your Imbox, you need to give that sender permission first. Only then does it arrive in your Imbox

The Imbox

Not Inbox but Imbox for important and immediate emails.

The Imbox is divided into New For You which are all the unread emails and Previously Seen.

On the email itself, you have a bunch of options:

Email Actions

The main options are Reply Now, Later, and Set Aside.

The Reply Later will go to a stack at the bottom of the screen.

The nice thing about the reply later is that you can have them all in the one screen and work through them in one sitting. I like to process my emails in set chunks during the day and this is something really facilitates that.

The Set Aside on another stack. This is more for future reference. For the really long emails you might get from one of your substack subscription that’s valuable but that you know you want to read but eventually.

Set Aside Board

In addition to the Imbox, there’s The Feed for marketing emails, newsletters, and long reads generally.

There’s also the The Paper Trail for receipts, order confirmations, and transactional emails generally.

Hey.com Apple App
Hey.com Apple App

Contacts Page

On a contact’s page, you can see everything from that person on the one screen.

You can decide to have all their emails go to Imbox, The Feed, or The Paper Trail. You can toggle notifications.

July 3, 2020 Update

After using Hey.com for some time, I do find using Hey valuable but I’m not sure I’d make a full switch over from Gmail to Hey yet.

I like being able to search my entire Gmail history, I like having a Sent folder and the additional features Hey offers can more or less be replicated to some degree.

The biggest value for me is the UI of Hey which is very nice and much better than Gmail for me personally and the privacy feature.

Replicating Hey Features

https://blog.andrewcanion.com/2020/06/16/replicating-heycom-features.html — interesting way to try and replicate Hey features

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