Sparrow's swipe and tap interface is a joy to use. Photo: Sparrow
A few months back the internet was ablaze with excitement concerning Google’s Gmail client heading to iOS. But the excitement quickly subsided when the disappointing app actually landed on the iPhone. Now there’s a better option.
Released today, Sparrow for iPhone ($3) does what Google couldn’t. It delivers on the hype.
Taking the best UI elements from apps like Tweetie and Facebook, Sparrow sets its sights on a swipe-heavy app experience. After an initial learning period, Sparrow for iPhone’s navigation is quick and intuitive. Need to move back to the accounts panel? Just swipe. Common functions can be enacted with a left-to-right swipe from the app’s inbox screen. Replying to mail and archiving, starring, deleting or moving messages to a folder are all just a swipe and a tap away.
It seems like a small interface change from the official iPhone e-mail app’s tap-to-navigate UI, but in practice, it’s a huge time saver. Most navigation can be done while holding the iPhone with one hand and using your thumb to swipe left and right.
But the app does have an Achilles heel: push notification. Apple won’t allow Sparrow to use the APIs that VoIP apps use to keep the app virtually connected to e-mail servers at all times. For power users that need immediate notification that an e-mail has arrived, this could be a deal breaker. Sparrow’s developers have a petition on their site asking Apple to update their position on the push API.
Push notification issues aside, the app’s quick navigation and ability to attach photos while composing an e-mail without going into the Photos app make it a great addition to any iPhone.