It was a fateful Thursday late last July when Sparrow announced they’d been bought out by Google. The indie email app that’d taken the Mac by storm, Sparrow was a fast favorite of anyone who wanted a more modern email experience — one that was fast, minimalist, and integrated with cloud services. It hit all the right spots, soared in popularity, then nearly as quickly was taken from us. Sparrow still works, but it’s a zombie without much, if any, of a future.
The Sparrow-shaped gap on the App Store has yet to be filled. There’s tons of promises of new email apps, but few have made it onto the scene yet — at least on the Mac. There’s the old standby alternates like Outlook and Postbox, but they don’t replace the minimalist approach to email that Sparrow embraced. The iPhone can claim Mailbox, Triage, and numerous other new email apps, but on the Mac, most Sparrow fans have stuck with the aging app, while others have taken a look back at Apple’s admittedly nice Mail.app.
That’s changed this week, though, as Airmail was released to the App Store. We’d taken a look at it months back when it was still in beta, but now that it’s fully released, can it replace Sparrow for diehard fans?
Last Thursday was a sad day for Sparrow users ’round the world. The company announced, in quite a surprise turn, that it had been acquired by Google and that any new features for their Mac and iOS apps will no longer be developed – presumably because the team are now busy overhauling the default Gmail client with some of Sparrow’s fancy features.
Sparrow was one of the leading examples of the innovative apps on the App Store that helps make OS X a better platform for everyone. Plus, it was one of the few email apps that actually worked better than the alternatives. So what does all this mean for the future of email on OS X?
This past weekend, the Sparrow team shook the Mac app world by announcing they had been bought out by Google and wouldn’t be adding any new features to their popular email app. Sparrow was a great example of the amazing Mac-only apps you can get from the App Store, an app that was lovingly created by a team that really knew what they were doing. Now, the team’s moving to work on Gmail, and odds are Google will totally forget about the Mac app the team had built in the first place.
For those of use that use email all the time, many of us exclusively use Gmail or Google Apps on our own domains. However, we usually don’t use Gmail online, preferring instead to use Mail.app, Sparrow, or other 3rd party email apps to manage our email workflow. Sparrow was an especially good choice for Gmail users, as it supported Gmail’s features in a brilliant Mac interface, and just worked so good.
It’s not like Sparrow quit working overnight, but most of us are seriously considering alternate email apps now that Sparrow won’t be in active development going forward. That’s why we’re wondering if you’re going to keep using Sparrow, or if you’ve switched to another email app. We’d love to hear what email app you’re using, and why, in the comments below!
Special thanks to @CoolD78 for the poll idea!
With Lion, Apple completely rethought the Mail.app interface, largely drawing from what they had done on the iPad. Along with the visual upgrades came some functionality boosts as well, such as vastly improved searching and a more robust tagging system.
Despite these efforts, many users are still flocking to third party email solutions. Sparrow has made a huge splash in the email world and brings a lot of innovation to this market in terms of UI. It’s simple, beautiful and still feature rich enough to use as your primary email client.
Another major competitor is Postbox, which has long held the spot as the go-to client for Mac users who want a truly powerful alternative to Mail.app. The Postbox conversation reply formatting put’s Mail’s to shame and the entire client tightly and effortlessly integrates with your favorite Google services.
The question we want to know today is, “which is your favorite?” For those of us that work at our computers, email can be something that eats up a significant portion of our week and it’s important to make sure we use a client that makes our workflow as easy and efficient as possible. Cast your vote for your favorite client and leave a comment below telling us why you use the one that you do.
A while ago, when I got my first Mac, I began using Mail for keeping up with my email. It was a very good app and I enjoyed using it, but I didn’t know how I felt about having all of my emails (both important and useless) stored in one app, accessible to anyone who accessed my computer. This wasn’t exactly a problem, until that computer got stolen, and as it wasn’t password-protected, whoever stole it or bought it now had access to a good number of my emails, and I couldn’t really do anything about it but but keep him from receiving my new emails.
A few days later, when I replaced my Macbook, I thought twice about using Mail.app again after that first panic attack. I stuck with Gmail’s web app until I found a great and very complete app called Notify. Notify was cheap, it sat on my menu bar and it even used Growl to alert me when I got new messages. It was very simple and pretty, too. It allowed me to quickly check on emails without having to leave what I was doing, and even quickly reply to them or delete them and do marvelous things with them. It synced wonderfully with Gmail. It was a dream come true.
But it didn’t last very long. After I installed Lion, I noticed it started acting weird. It still alerted me when I got new mail and it let me access its menu bar interface, but if I tried to read or reply to any of them, the app would become useless, in many ways. I thought it would get updated soon, but as time went by I got anxious. One day I looked up the app and found a blog where the developers said they weren’t going to keep developing it, and that they had just stopped selling it. I understood, but I also needed to replace the luxury life that Notify had gotten me used to. And so began my search…
The Sparrow giveaway is now officially closed. A huge thanks to our sponsors and everyone who entered and shared the post! Keep close watch on your email to see if you won, we’ll be contacting the winners shortly!
Software design has made some interesting strides lately. It’s possible that we’re beginning to see Apple’s role in setting UI standards give way to the innovation of third party developers.
Unfortunately, this shift makes for a much more complicated scenario for developers and designers. Tempers rise, fingers are pointed and even users begin arguing about the difference between inspiration and theft. When trends are set by third party designers, is it acceptable to follow them?
The role of the interface designer is not one that should be taken lightly – Without a great interface, chances are that you wouldn’t be using the apps you currently are. If the Safari address bar was hot pink and created in MS Paint, would you still use it? Probably not.
Luckily, it isn’t, and you can use your Mac in pleasure, thanks to countless UI designers working tirelessly to perfect their application designs.
There are numerous wonderful mail clients for Mac OS X, and everybody has their own preference, for whatever reason. However, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who doesn’t marvel at the Sparrow interface – It really is something else.
Today, we’ll be chatting to Sparrow’s designer, Jean-Marc Denis, about his work, inspirations, and the interface design scene.