Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use Value Rating:
Sparrow has to exist because email is not dead. Email is not close to being dead. We may communicate via alternate forms of communication like Twitter and Facebook more frequently, but tell my inboxes that email is dead and it will laugh. Well, it won't laugh, because it is just a logical concept, but the point is that if it could, it would. So we still need email apps. On iOS, it's been Mail.app or the highway, pretty much. Sure, Gmail exists but it's pretty much just a web view with sound notifications.
Sparrow is an actual app developed from the ground up for iOS, meant to bring a more competent mail experience to the iPhone and iPod touch. Users add their accounts, can sync up with Facebook in order to get profile pictures from friends, and then, it's just all about checking email. Gmail labels will be available here, and there's a Unified Inbox for those who use multiple accounts. Otherwise, it's an email client! It can be used to read, reply, and forward email, everything that an email app should be able to do.
The app easily discovered the settings for my Google Apps email address that I primarily used without any fiddling with settings. There's easy access to reading just Unread email, which is pretty much worth the $2.99 right there. Marking multiple emails as read? Easy as well. Want to upload photos as attachments? It's very easy with Sparrow. It's just an all-around capable email client.
Sadly, the platform where this would really come in handy, the iPad, is not a part of Sparrow yet. There's likely more interface tweaks that need to go into making it work on the larger screen. Also, there's no way to kill the badge on the app showing the total number of unread emails. Yes, yes, Sparrow, I'll get to those soon. I blame the inability to disable the badge on Mail.app pre-iOS5 for my continued ability nowadays to ignore app badges entirely. There's no push notifications at all, so native functionality and the Gmail app won't go away quite yet. Links still open up in Safari, not in a web view in the app itself.
Sparrow has a lot to improve on, but even in its initial state, it already supplants the built-in Mail app. The king is dead; long live the king!