If you follow tech news, it’s been hard to miss mention of Mailbox. Mailbox, as described in some glowing reviews, looks to be a new way to handle email, with a focus on Gmail. The general concept behind Mailbox is to help you get to inbox zero by letting you perform full and half swipes to the left and right to archive, delete, and defer messages. The current problem with Mailbox? There’s a long line to get it. Read more
40Tech’s Big Kahuna, Evan Kline, fell in love with Sparrow a while back. It was — and is — the ultimate Gmail client for him, and his post on it left me jealous that it wasn’t available for Windows (yeah, yeah, Apple Fanboys, I see your lips moving, but no sound is coming out). Thankfully, the keen developers on the Sparrow team have seen fit to bring the Ultimate Gmail/Email Experience over to the iPhone.
They do a good job of it, too. The Sparrow for iPhone app is the best email client for iOS to date — with only one potentially deal-breaking problem.
Sparrow (iOS 5 required) utilizes some of the best features of other mobile designs like Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, and the better features of Mail to bring a fast, super-easy to navigate email client to the iPhone that has the added benefit of being pretty. It has swipe-able overlapping panes, Facebook profile photo integration, pull down to refresh, labels, and a swipe-for-context-menu that gives you the ability to instantly deal with an email without actually having to open it. And that’s just for starters.
Sparrow for iPhone also has a fantastic threaded message UI that allows you to see an entire email chain at a glance, a sweet unified inbox for multiple accounts, send-from aliases (works with your verified Gmail “send email as” emails), and the ability to add images to an email at any given point — you can even take them on the fly, if you like.
Some Screenies from the Sparrow Site
What Sparrow doesn’t have — and this might kill it for power users — is push notifications. This is unfortunate as, for many people, push notifications are an integral part of their mobile life. However, the lack of push comes with good reason: in order to offer it, Apple would require Sparrow to store your email address and password on their own servers. This is a responsibility that Sparrow doesn’t feel prepared to handle — and I say more power to them. Better they remove the feature and recognize their own limitations than to offer push notifications, get hacked, and leave thousands of users’ private email accounts floating in the winds.
Sparrow did attempt to use the same push notification API that Apple offers to VOIP apps (Skype, etc.). This API goes through Apple’s secure servers and would allow the Sparrow app to be “always on” and securely deliver email notifications to you. Unfortunately, Apple rejected the app for utilizing this feature. Sparrow encourages users to contact Apple in the hopes that the policy might be reconsidered in the near future.
Sparrow is also missing POP email account support — it’s IMAP only, for now. Hopefully, that will change in coming updates. Some things that are definitely on the way are landscape mode, localization, a built-in web browser, and “send and archive.” I would also like to see “mark as read” added to the context menu.
Even without POP or push notifications, though, Sparrow is easily the best email client available for the iPhone. It is much easier to use than iOS Mail, and it kicks the crap out of the Gmail app — which I am still happy exists, but would like to see a little lovin’ happening.
Speaking of Gmail, if you are in need of both push and the Gmail “send email as” feature (and don’t utterly loathe the iOS app), the Gmail mobile app has recently been updated to include said feature. You don’t even have to update your iOS app as it is basically a fancy box containing the mobile app’s functionality. Personally, I’m glad to see this feature incorporated, and have no idea why it took so long to do so. As was said above, you can use Sparrow to do this — but Sparrow for iPhone costs $2.99, and Gmail is free. Your call.
What are your thoughts on Sparrow for iPhone? Does the lack of push kill it for you?
In keeping with their Big Push, Google released a new version of Gmail with a major facelift, as well as released — and then pulled — their long-awaited native Gmail app for iOS.
The new Gmail look, as is to be expected, has a few minor annoyances to accompany some great new features, and the app is actually very cool, but was pulled due to a notification system problem.
Check out the feature-list for both below.
New Gmail Web App
The new web app has a look and feel that fits in with Google’s updated branding. It’s “cleaner, more modern” and is very similar to the preview theme that the Gmail team released a while back. I’ve been using that theme for a few months and I love it, but I’m not terribly fond of the dynamic “Display Density” feature.
Display Density allows you to control the default amount of whitespace for each email message in your inbox (Comfortable, Cozy, or Compact), but whill actually change dynamically depending on the size of your browser window. This may seem like a good idea, but if you use Minimal Wall’s guidelines for window sizes, it displays as Compact, no matter what, which clashes with your zen by slapping you about with tiny little squished up emails. Google should add a feature that allows you to force the display of your favourite Density, no matter the size of your window.
What is awesome about the new Gmail is the sweet new toolbar, the much-improved search dialogue — I always hated the in-field search commands — new themes, and the improved look of threaded conversations. I also like the additional control settings, the ability to drag the size of the chat window, and the awesome little buttons in the sidebar that can make the chat, gadgets, and other annoying sidebar items vanish until you want them.
Give the new Gmail a try, and let us know what you think. If you don’t love it, you can always revert back — at least for now. Check out the video for details on the upgrade:
Native Gmail App for iOS
Once Google gets a handle on the notifications errors (apparently just a silly little mistake on their part, so it shouldn’t be long), the new iOS app will probably kill the iOS mail app for me. I only use the thing because I hate waiting for Safari to load, and the new app looks like it will finally allow me to do what I’ve always wanted to from my iPhone and iPad: reply to emails with the email address that they were sent to.
This is a huge deal for me, because I use a multitude of different email addresses for different things, and they all come through Gmail. I don’t necessarily want to answer my 40Tech email or my work email with my main email address, which I’ve had forever, but might not always come off with the… professionalism… I need.
Unfortunately, you still can’t compose new email in the app and choose what email you want to send from. Baby steps, though, I suppose — and it’s still better than the iOS emai app.
The new Gmail for iOS app is nearly a full-featured Gmail experience. There is universal search, auto-complete from both Gmail contacts and iPhone addressbook, attachment upload (which is basically photos, of course), threaded conversations, priority inbox, easy archiving, labelling, starring, deleting, and spam reporting.
On iPhone/iPod Touch, the Gmail app gets out of its own way, focusing on the content, with a nice expandable sidebar to sort through your labels. On the iPad, you get the standard two-paned view, which makes for easy viewing and navigating on the larger screen.
The only other things to note are that, at the moment, the app doesn’t have offline support, and doesn’t do multiple Gmail accounts, and that swipe gestures — while good for the most part — sometimes feel a bit awkward.
What are your thoughts on the new look for Gmail? And when you get a chance to check it out, tell us what you think of the iOS app, as well!
Google Buzz is going the way of the dinosaur — or maybe the Dodo is a better analogy. Either way, as of November 14th, the hopeful attempt at getting in on some of that Twitter juice will simply fade away. Google’s on to bigger things now — like trying to get a piece of that Facebook pie, with some Twitter a la mode. Sounds nummy, right? Or maybe I’m just getting hungry…
Google officially announced the retirement of the Gmail-integrated Buzz on October 14th, but some of you may only now be getting the little pop-up notification in your Inbox. I got mine yesterday and I realized that, in a weird way, I’ll miss the service. It seemed like it had so much potential, at first. We even wrote about why we figured it wouldn’t flop – oh, wait… that was Wave. What can I say… we’re optimists. In any case, the integration of Buzz was handled badly, the “bubble up” experience was annoying (to say the least), and the UI design was the former and most unfortunate Google Ugly.
Thankfully, Google+ not only cannibalized some of the best that Buzz had to offer, but it also was designed with the understanding that minimalist can be pretty, too. The jury’s still out on whether or not Google’s latest social offering will see long-term development, but the Magic 8 Ball — and my never-ending, aforementioned optimism — tells me that chances are good…
On a final note, does anyone else find it funny that the “Google Buzz is going away…” post in the Big G’s Gmail Help pages can be actually shared on Buzz — and that there is a button to open up Sidewiki as well? Just me…?
Say your farewells to Buzz in the comments.
Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but I’ve had a couple of people that I know who have had their email accounts hacked recently. Given all of the personal information we send and receive in email messages, that can be a traumatic experience. One victim wondered if she should take a scorched earth policy, and move completely to a new email account. That’s normally not necessary. If you still have access to your account, you can take some steps to secure it, and keep the slimy criminal out.