It’s real cool lately to say “email is broken.” Sparrow, an email app from Dom Leca, tried to fix it by designing an email app from the ground up for the post-Gmail age, taking its cues from simple, springy Twitter apps, not your dad’s dusty email programs. It was our favorite email app — clean, minimal, beautiful. Now it’s owned by Google.
The acquisition is pretty shocking — Sparrow is only available for the Mac and iPhone, and Leca recently teased an iPad app coming in the near future, which probably won’t see the light of day now.
In the announcement, Leca says that the Sparrow team is “joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision — one that we think we can better achieve with Google.” Which, awesome! Except that it that means basically abandoning Sparrow (boo!): The team plans to “provide support for our users,” but they “do not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps” since they’ll be “working on new things at Google.” Sucks for users who paid for Sparrow, since it’s now effectively abandonware.
No doubt the Gmail experience — which has no shortage of critics since the redesign — will be better for what the Sparrow team can bring the table. It’s just sort of lame that we won’t get to see how Sparrow would keep working on the very hard problem that is email, since they brought the freshest approach in a long time to the table.
And, while Gmail’s great and all, Sparrow was delightful — email! delightful! what? — and it seemed like it was just getting started. But hey, maybe they’ll finally make that sad iPhone Gmail app into a real, lovable app, not a glorified web browser.