Search The iOS Post

Email Us:

 Keep updated by following The iOS Post in the different Social Networks   

Listen to The iOS Post Podcast every week on Stitcher. Click here to get the app now.

« Quick App Update: Osfoora for Mac Version 1.1; New Features, Fixes and Enhancements | Main | Sparrow for iPhone Appears in the App Store »

Sparrow for iPhone Review

This is one app that I have been waiting for a long time. For how long? Since Sparrow for Mac was released. The main reason is that I was expecting the ease of use, the Gmail integration that Apple's Mail app lacks, and some features that are taken from the Mac version.

Sparrow for the Mac is simply one of the most popular email clients out there. But really, why I was so desperate to see it hit the App Store? One simple reason, it might sound dumb but it's the truth, multiple signatures.

Apple's iOS Mail app doesn't allow users to set various email signatures for each email account. We all know the famous "Sent from iPhone" that, although you can customize to whatever you want it to be, it is a global signature.

But as I have multiple accounts, many to run this site, my iCloud account, my Gmail account, and others, simply one option of "Sent from iPhone" doesn't cut it. And while Apple wants to dig deeper into enterprise, I can't see why they don't add this feature once and for all.

Another reason is the Gmail integration on the iOS mail app; it doesn't have all the features, and Sparrow fills this gap. Not only that, Sparrow feels very intuitive, not that different from the Mac version, but focus on experience, on the task at hand.

I've been using it since it was released last night and is not that bad for a 1.0 version. The user interface is reminiscent of the Facebook iPhone app, although it works snappier. It allows for gestures like swiping to the left for taking actions such as reply, forward, archive, move, etc. from the email inbox.

I truly believe that composing an email on Sparrow for iPhone is much better than the iOS Mail app. You start by searching for the contact you wish to email, or input one if you don't have the contact stored. You can see the contacts avatar, so you can see who your emailing, which is great when you have people with similar names.

Once you find the contact you select it, you can also select if you want it as Cc or Bcc. After this hit next, type the subject and then start typing your message. If you want to attach an image just hit the attachment button to the right of the subject line and select whether you want to attach an image stored on your iPhone or if you want to take one with the camera. This is a key feature since Apple's Mail app doesn't do this.

When you are done just hit send.

Sparrow for iPhone, like the Mac version, allows for connecting to Facebook, which takes your image and those from friends. Putting a face to an email account is great since you get a better idea of who you are dealing with.

Other handy features are pull-to-refresh, unified inbox, thread view (by tapping the top bar, you can see al messages in a conversation), Priority Inbox support, etc. 

Certainly all is not great and there are certain downsides to Sparrow for iPhone. The app supports Gmail, Google Apps, iCloud, Yahoo, AOL, Mobile Me and custom IMAP accounts, but doesn't support POP accounts, like Hotmail, but it will in the future. For me this is not a problem.

Second, the app doesn't have a built-in browser, which means that external links will take you out to Safari. Again, they plan to support it in future updates, not that big of a deal for me.

But here is a controversial one, there is no support for Push Notifications. This is one key feature that most people will miss from the iOS default Mail app. 

Sparrow did explain the reasons behind not having Push Notifications on this first version. They said that they included an API on their first submission to the App Store that would essentially make notifications work in a way VoIP apps do. The app was rejected by Apple because of the API.

Sparrow's logic behind not having Push Notifications is:

"On our side: if Sparrow was to do Push today, we would have to store your credentials (login/password) on our servers to frequently poll your accounts, and send you notifications. This is a responsibility we're not ready to take. As a startup focused on iOS/OS X development, we do not have the skills to secure your data on our servers and we do not want to put sensitive information at risk. That's why Sparrow iPhone 1.0 doesn't do push."

Why was the API rejected by Apple?

"... Apple provides an API that allows an app to be woken up in case of a network event meaning it is virtually connected at all times like Sparrow on the Mac. For example, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) apps take advantages of this specific API so you can receive calls even when the app isn't opened."

They urged users that want Push Notifications to add themselves to a list to petition Apple to change this, thus allowing Sparrow and similar apps to include that API. 

Certalinly they are not the first popular app to debut without Push Notifications, we all remember Tweetbot. 

    What do I think about this issue? To everybody's surprise I haven't been using push email on my iPhone for months. Why? While testing some iOS beta versions that have buggy battery life, I turned off Push Notifications and to this date I haven't found the need to turn it back on.

    Although Push Notifications are a must in mail clients, I can say that I could live without them, in this case in Sparrow. While we wait for Apple to change its mind, you can set up Boxcar to deliver the notifications.

    • Install Boxcar,
    • Create your Boxcar account or sign in,
    • Add a service "Email Account",
    • In settings of the service "Email Account" on the iPhone application, choose "Opens", select "Sparrow" or "Custom". If you choose "Custom", enter the url following URL "fb124059057672479://". Using "Custom" won't open a message composer.
    • Now, forward your emails to the email address provided by Boxcar.

    I won't be using Boxcar though, will use it as it is until Push Notifications arrive natively. 

    Sparrow is intuitive, fast, full of features that are customary for this type of apps, great integration with services such as Gmail, etc. In fact, the guys and gals over at the Googleplex should take note on how to develop an email client for the iPhone that actually works.

    It has, from now on, become my default mail client on my iPhone.

    Sparrow for iPhone is available for $2.99 in the App Store [iTunes Link]

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    References (1)

    References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
    • Response
      Response: free cam sex
      The iOS Post - All Things iOS and the Apple World - The iOS Post - Sparrow for iPhone Review

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.