Sparrow: Probably The Best Gmail App For iPhone

I have used the Mac version of Sparrow for close to a year now, but I’ve always found something missing with the application. That missing link was the lack of a mobile version of Sparrow, I couldn’t use it on the go or on the commute to classes. However, this changed in the beginning of March when Sparrow finally offered up an iPhone version of the popular Mac Gmail/Outlook application. With email applications having to prove more to its users than say, a social networking website, Sparrow has a lot to battle for in this field of apps. Does it stack up well? Let’s take a look and find out.

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One reason Gmail is my email of choice when handling business is because of the well organized labeling features. Sparrow, as a Gmail application, works well with incorporating the labeling into the application, something that many email applications don’t offer. The interface of Sparrow is very reminiscent of Facebook, a bit too much. This isn’t necessary a bad thing and actually seems perfect for navigating the various inboxes, folders, and labels that make up my Gmail account. To access the various pages, click the top left tab. This brings you to where you can access your Inbox, Starred, Sent, Draft, Trash, and Spam emails. You also have a section for all of your personal labels below these pages.Clicking the profile button at the top left brings you to the accounts section. In the end, the interface is simple and offers a lot of space to work with.

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I mentioned before about Sparrow’s accounts page. The application also has a feature allowing you to view all of your accounts in one area, all unified. This is perfect for the Gmail/Outlook users out there who want to get everything complete, replied, and checked in record time. I have three Gmail accounts I check daily, making unified inbox a feature I adore. Now, let’s take a look at the most important part of Sparrow – messaging. You have an email message and you want to respond in some way. Sparrow understands that responding doesn’t always equal a reply. Sparrow for that reason has accumulated all response features into one area, accessed by swiping on an individual message from the right to left. There, you can reply, star, mark as spam, move to a new folder, or just simply delete. Sparrow utilizes threaded messaging, allowing for easier retrieval of a message.

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One thing I like about Sparrow is the personality added to emails. The threaded messaging shows that each message in a conversation has its own importance. The photos added to contacts (from Facebook integration) makes it easier to refer back to an email message in a more visually attractive manner. Sparrow allows you to also use your iCloud and AIM mail as well. However, there are a couple of things that Sparrow doesn’t do or support that can be the deciding factor on whether or not Sparrow is right for you.

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I’ve been dreading getting to this point, but I have to show you what Sparrow can’t do. First off, Sparrow lacks the ability to connect to Yahoo or MSN emails. I use Yahoo for personal emailing, so if I am willing to go all in with Sparrow, it will be a solely business application for me. This can also leave behind a lot of users who do use these services. I believe Sparrow will soon come to a point when they can support these clients. For now, that will not be the case.

Secondly, and most importantly, Sparrow doesn’t support push notifications. If you aren’t familiar with push, this is when your mail is automatically notified to you as they come (not just when you launch the app). This lack of push is a big disadvantage for users, like myself, who must reply to emails as soon as they come. This lack can be okay for individuals without unlimited or with very small data packages, where push notifications will drastically eat at their monthly allowance. However, business users will hurt the most. If you feel this is a deal breaker, don’t keep Sparrow off your list for long. I can expect this, along with support for POP to be in an upcoming update within the coming months. It’s too big of a feature to ignore.

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To conclude, Sparrow is one of my favorite mail applications across the board. The Gmail focused application seems to work well for me, being that Gmail is my client of choice for work. The Mac application has been a favorite of mine since the start. With the iPhone version, I wasn’t disappointed too much. However, there are a couple of things that prevented me from wanting to use it much past the reviewing period. First, no push notifications is something I can’t live without. Secondly, while I can live without mixing my business IMAP email and personal POP email, not having it as an available feature isn’t good. This also can prevent myself and other individuals from having Sparrow as being their dedicated mail application. The $2.99 price tag seems appealing to me, despite others seeing this as a bad price for that it lacks. I must agree, $2.99 is good for what Sparrow could or is going to be, but not completely what it is now.