I rarely visit the Gmail website to check my mail. A beautiful desktop email client by the name of Sparrow is my default mail client on both my MacBook Air and iMac. Sparrow sports a gorgeous interface that’s packed with the best of Gmail and more. So, I’m absolutely thrilled to see Sparrow for iPhone hit the AppStore. It is hands down the best mail client for iOS!
Interface & Design
If you’re already a Sparrow user, you’ll find the iOS app to be familiar in design and layout with a few neat tricks tucked away. You have the option of quickly tapping or swiping through in Sparrow to navigate panels, inboxes, messages and Gmail labels of all colors. Sparrow brings a clean, but colorful style to the iPhone with avatars displayed from Google and Facebook and a plethora of label colors on messages and in the labels panels. You’ll never tire of how good Sparrow’s interface looks.
Email Aliases and Multiple Signatures
Sparrow is the first notable email client for iOS that allows you to use Gmail aliases (other email addresses). Android is the ONLY mobile OS that has native support for Gmail aliases. It’s a feature that I’ve envied about Android users for a long time. Today, that envy is gone.
Using Sparrow, you can set several aliases for your emails addresses and change the signature of each account and the individual aliases! Aliases can also be made as default email addresses, taking Sparrow above and beyond the native Mail app’s capabilities.
Composing Messages and Smart Contacts
A little icon sits in the lower right side of the inbox panel in Sparrow, inviting you to send off yet another email. Tap the icon and you’ll quickly be greeted with your gmail contacts. You may notice that your most frequently emailed contacts rise to the top of the list. That’s Sparrow’s smart contact list at work.
Listed directly next to each contact’s name is the option to add a contact under Cc or Bcc. There’s no longer a need to switch fields just to add more names. Once you’ve selected your contacts you’ll enter the ‘compose’ view. Tapping the ‘From’ bar at the very top will give you the option to switch email accounts. Attaching a photo directly from the compose view is also an option, eliminating the need to go back to the Photos app to send off a picture or two.
Raise your hand if you hate the search feature in Mail.
Personally, I hardly ever use it. I archive and sort as much of my email as possible and that requires deeper search functionality from my mobile device. This is nearly impossible with the native Mail app. In fact, the search function in the native Mail app seems to be limited to two things: what’s been pulled into your phone already and the label you’re currently viewing.
Sparrow for iPhone goes deeper. It searches not only what’s readily available, but your entire Gmail account. That would take forever right? Not with Sparrow. I have just over 1GB of email to search through and Sparrow pulls in results within seconds. It’s pretty fast!
No Push Notifications
That’s not to say Sparrow is without its quirks. The biggest downside is the lack of support for push notifications nor POP accounts. Those that rely on push notifications may want to wait until the issue is resolved (read more here). A way around this is to continue getting push notifications via the native Mail app, but use Sparrow to manage your email.
A smaller quirk of Sparrow is that you have to manually add your email accounts again. If you don’t have many, this is a minor annoyance. If you have tons of accounts, Sparrow is going to take a little patience to customize to your liking.
Verdict: Worth Every Penny
Despite these downsides, Sparrow for iPhone is simply incredible. It’s the iOS mail client that I’ve been waiting for. With features like email alias support, multiple signature support, smart contacts, and a slick design to go with it, I didn’t hesitate to buy Sparrow at a reasonable price of $2.99 . Bye bye Mail. Hello Sparrow. Meet Raven’s inbox.