I’ve been a long time fan of Sparrow for Mac, a super intuitive and sexy email client for the desktop that has easily replaced Apple Mail for me (I despise Outlook, so it didn’t even have a chance.) Last week they released an iPhone version that is even more amazing than the desktop version. It completely redesigns the way you look and interact with email on your phone, without messing it up with excessive options. Although they do add a few new features that are very welcomed, namely custom signatures per email account, and profile pics next to each recipient via Facebook. Apple should buy Sparrow and just make this the native Mail app. It’s that good.
Problem: No Push
When they first released the iPhone app I was hesitant to start using it, because it is lacking one major feature – push notifications. They assure us that notifications will be built into future versions of the app, but right now they are completely missing. To check for new mail you have to open the open and refresh for it to check. In my business this is unacceptable because I need to be notified about certain emails the second they are sent. But I really really wanted to be able to use Sparrow on my phone because I was in love with the UI. I don’t necessarily hate the native Mail app… but Sparrow found a way to improve something that was already perfect – and that deserves my $3 and a prominent space on my iPhone dock.
Determined to make it work, I decided to setup Sparrow for all of my email accounts and added alerts from BoxCar for my most important emails. I setup email filters that forward any emails from my bosses and key people at work to BoxCar. I also have filters for my wife, and certain topics and other recipients that I have deemed important. They all forward to BoxCar and BoxCar then immediately pushes a notification to my iPhone. When the notification comes in I can open my phone and read the email in Sparrow.
I have most of my notifications simply keep a log in Notifications Center (such as Facebook, Twitter, and various apps) and only BoxCar is allowed to make a noise, pop-up on the screen and bug me until I respond. This has allowed me to focus on work, meetings, family, or whatever else I’m doing without having to constantly check my phone. I know that if my phone buzzes, it is for something that needs my immediate attention. I can safely keep my phone in my pocket when needed and know that if it isn’t buzzing that there isn’t anything urgent.
Before, emails would come in and vibrate the phone. I’d have to check it every time to see if it was important. More often then not it’s GroupOn, or a BaseCamp notification, or a forward from my Dad – all of which can be safely ignored and don’t need to interrupt who I’m talking to or what I’m doing. Now if I’m chatting with someone and my phone buzzes, I can safely say that checking my phone is actually more important than talking to you, and politely excuse myself for a moment to check it.
How has this affected the way I use email?
I still check email often throughout the day, and when I’m at my desk it’s constantly open – so don’t think emails get ignored. I’m unusually crazy about my inbox. I empty it every single day and it drives me bonkers when its not empty.
When I get an email I do one of 4 things to it:
- Delete/Archive it – somethings don’t need a reply, are spam, or just not something I want to bother with.
- Immediately reply to it, then archive it.
- Forward it to someone else to deal with, then archive it.
- Add it as a task in Things, my to-do list manager so that I can deal with it later (Often times scheduling an alert for a certain date and time if I need to follow-up or complete a task by a certain deadline), then archive it.
It’s a system that won’t work for everyone, but it works great for me and it has changed the way I am able to interact with email. When I’m not at my desk, I am able to stay focused on what I’m doing, and that has made a tremendous impact.
What will change when push notifications do come to Sparrow?
If Sparrow ever does add push notifications to the iPhone app, I think it will be a very welcome addition. However, I may never use them. Unless that is, if they add BoxCar type of functionality where we can choose what we get notifications for. That would be fantastic.
Learn more about Sparrow for iPhone on www.sprw.me
Discover Sparrow for Mac on www.sprw.me/mac