Gmail and the iPhone travel in similar tech-savvy circles. But for whatever reason, iPhone users have never had a really great way to check their Gmail.
Sparrow — the company that makes the eponymous Mac-based email client — is hoping it can change that. The company’s finally released its app for the iPhone, giving people a nice alternative to Google’s Gmail and Apple’s iOS-native Mail apps. One of Sparrow’s best features is the ability to check all of your emails in one inbox. And since it features full IMAP support, you can include both your Gmail and Yahoo accounts.
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Sure, Gmail has an iOS app, but it doesn’t really do a lot of the things a native app should. Sparrow does, like letting you view your last 1,000 messages offline. The interface is pretty nifty as well, letting you swipe between mailboxes, contacts and folders.
But let’s cut to what’s really important — how well does Sparrow mimic the intuitive experience of using Gmail on your desktop or laptop?
Obviously, threads are a big reason people use Gmail in the first place. Sparrow makes scrolling through conversations a lot easier than with the iPhone’s native Mail app. When reading an email, you can simply swipe up and down to browse through other messages in the thread, something so intuitive that it seems bizarre it’s unique to Sparrow. You can also star and label messages, just as you can in Gmail.
There are some other cool features as well: The contact list makes sure to put your most frequent contacts at the top, tapping on the top bar will instantly take you back to your inbox no matter where you are and Facebook Connect integrates your friend’s photos into the mix.
The biggest miss? No push notification. The beta version actually featured it, but Apple sadly nixed it because it used an API meant for VoIP apps like Skype that needs to constantly monitor for calls. That means you won’t be notified of new email right away — a big minus if fast response times are an absolute must. Sparrow says it’s currently petitioning Apple to reconsider.
Otherwise, this app looks to be well worth the $2.99 Sparrow’s charging, especially for Gmail addicts.