Posted in February, 2011

Never a miscommunication.

Edit: Looks like Viacom had to spoil everyone’s party. It’s here on the Colbert Nation site, though (skip about half way through for the relevant part).


Today I made my first purchase (ever) from the Mac App Store. I can’t say I’ll be purchasing anything from there again, but seeing as Sparrow was only available on the App Store, I didn’t really have any choice.


Which brings me to the app itself. I first heard about Sparrow back when it was in beta, and at that point it wasn’t developed far enough for me to be interested. But today I read on Daring Fireball that it had hit 1.0. The screenshots looked cool, the video looked cool, and I guess $10 isn’t that much.

No Demo?

This is where a demo would have been nice. I’ve used Gmail from the web since the beginning, so switching to a desktop client was iffy for me. Luckily it worked out, and I love Sparrow so far, but this almost made me didn’t want to purchase the app — videos and screenshots are one thing, but actually demoing a product is another experience entirely.

The lack of demo versions of the software on the App Store has been one of its main criticisms; that being said, I can’t say I really see a solution that not only offers a demo version, but is a clean and efficient way of handling the demo period and prevents piracy.

Sparrow So Far

The problem I’ve had with desktop clients of originally web-based apps is that the UI’s didn’t really transfer over well, and I had yet to use a desktop app that made it worth moving away from the web-based interface.

An example of this is Reeder, which is intended to replace Google Reader. While it’s a nice-looking app and does everything it advertises, I still couldn’t see why I should be running an extra app to do what already works so well in the browser.

I can now say that Sparrow is the first desktop client of a web-based app that actually improves on the experience. The UI is arguably less cluttered, as well as improved:

  • I don’t have a junk mail box in the main column (spam gets auto-cleaned every 30 days anyways).((However, if you want to view your junk mail, there’s an option for that.))
  • I don’t have to deal with the contacts and the chat; I use neither.
  • Messages’ chronology is bottom-to-top, whereas the web goes top-to-bottom.
  • The quick reply is magic. Hit R, type your quick message, and send (Apple-Shift-D, like
  • Of course, cool Mac OS X-style animations.

I think that Sparrow’s design is something that I can use for a long time, and it will certainly help speed up the minimal amount of time I spend on email on a daily basis.

It Looked Like the Twitter App

Sparrow in action

From first glance, it had a similar UI as the Twitter app. Thankfully, it actually works well, doesn’t sacrifice usability for the sake of an attractive UI, and doesn’t involve Twitter.


Overall, I’m very satisfied with my purchase. Assumably I’ll be getting free upgrades for the lifetime of this app, which makes my $10 go very, very far. Thankfully the lack of a demo didn’t affect my decision, but if the app was, say, $50 or so, I’d have my doubts.

That being said, I’m hardly an email power user, so my observations are largely from the perspective of a casual emailer; people who spend hours on their email every day may have a different experience with Sparrow. So far, though, Sparrow is awesome.