Sparrow for Gmail bills itself as “The New Mail for Mac” and it is obvious why. OS X’s Mail app is a very basic, barebones email application that gets the job done quickly and relatively painlessly. Sparrow is very similar in that regard. Where it ends though, is email integration outside of Gmail, as Gmail is Sparrow’s sole focus. If you’re not a Gmail user, you’re probably (reasonably) pretty turned off, but if you are, keep reading, because Sparrow is definitely worth a look.
Why would I want to try Sparrow?
The answer is simple. Literally. The best part about and main selling point of Sparrow is the interface, which definitely seems to be inspired by the uber-popular Tweetie for Mac. With 4 buttons along the top for Composition, Reply, Archiving, and Deleting, and 5 along the left side for Inbox, Starred, Sent Mail, Drafts, and Trash, its basically a graphical representation of the Gmail inbox. This is super nice for a couple of reasons.
First, generally speaking, a simple, clean interface is a beautiful interface. With no clutter to speak of, it keeps your email looking nice. The second reason is that while its lacking some things, its got some nice extras. For instance, Sparrow has native Growl integration, meaning you get great, customizable pop-up alerts to your desktop, which of course Gmail on the web can’t do. One more positive for the interface is that it uses very little in the way of system resources, so its no problem to keep it running in the background.
Want to try it? Here’s how.
Download and installation, as well as setup, are super easy. Head over to sparrowmailapp.com and click download beta. (Yes, beta, and we’ll come back to that soon). Once it is downloaded, the install is standard. When you start Sparrow for the first time, it will prompt you to set up your Gmail account. This is fantastic. Because Sparrow works exclusively with Gmail, all you do is enter your Gmail User name and Password, as well as your Name as you want it displayed. Sparrow does the rest. It will sync your Inbox, Starred, Sent, and Drafts automatically, and then you can add as many accounts as you want from the File menu in your Menu bar. You can now access Sparrow super easily by clicking the envelope in the menu bar, or of course clicking it in the dock.
Let’s face it, no application, program, app, or dev is perfect, and this includes Sparrow. Here are the major problems to be concerned with. First of all, the app is in beta. This means you’re basically testing the app for the developers. While this is certainly something to keep in mind, also keep in mind that this is a super stable release. Really. I’ve been testing it for a couple weeks and have had minimal problems. Also remember though, that you will almost definitely find a bug at some point, so consider yourself warned!
The second, and much bigger problem with the app, is that is has no label support! Come on guys, this is Gmail! We need labels! Now don’t get me wrong, as I just mentioned, this is beta, and support could be added at any time, but I fully expect labels in a Gmail exclusive app, so here’s hoping!
What do you guys think of Sparrow? Do you prefer Gmail in your browser? Or something else? Tell me in the comments, and maybe that will be the focus of my next post!