Spend Money On This: Sparrow, A Better Email App

The email app that’ll make you hate email a little less. posted on

Email might be “broken.” But we still have to live with it. Some of us practically live in it. So we might as well make it as pleasant as possible. Enter Sparrow.

Gmail basically reinvented the way we thought about email — gigs of mail and threaded conversations — and while most mail apps adapted, they never really felt designed for the what email had become. Sparrow was built from the ground up for the Gmail set, fully supporting all of its core features, and it takes a few things even further: You can share files with Dropbox or CloudApp instead of as straight-up attachments, and Facebook integration makes it easy to see who’s in your inbox at a glance.

All dandy. More importantly, Sparrow is what mail should feel like: fast, clean, and most of all, easy. Its design cues come from Twitter (so much so) and iPad apps, not from Outlook, which is a another fundamental shift in thinking about how to deal with email. It’s designed for a non-stop stream of email so that you can simply tear through it. A unified inbox, fast in-line replies, conversation views that make sense, pull-to-refresh (and other deeply handy gestures), an interface as mimimal as you want it to be. It’s fresh thinking about an old problem.

And it’s on both Mac OS X and iPhone. (Hopefully the iPad’s coming soon.) We’ve totally replaced both of the native mail apps with Sparrow. OS X’s Mail.app feels old and heavy after using Sparrow, even with its spiffed up interface in OS X Lion. On the iPhone, the fundamental interaction model with Mail.app’s barely changed in five years. It feels tired. Sparrow’s the antidote to both, the problem of email tackled by people who live in the world of Facebook and Twitter, not AIM.

It doesn’t fix email, but it does make it feel a little less broken.

You can try it for free on OS X, or it’s just $10. On iOS, it’s $3.

A lot — the vast majority, even — of technology products are total shit. Spend Money On This is a weekly section that tells you which things are not.

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