Sparrow is a new kind of minimal e-mail client that decidedly shirks the complexity found in its more traditional competitors like Mail and Postbox. Macworld took a preliminary look at a beta version back in November, but Sparrow has finally shed the badge for its arrival in the Mac App Store.
For this initial version, Sparrow is not just compatible with Gmail, it was really designed first and foremost for Google’s mail service. Taking the polar opposite approach of Mailplane, the other client that attempts to bring Gmail to the Mac, Sparrow’s interface borrows heavily from Twitter’s official and iOS-ified client, defaulting to a thin and summarized view of your inbox, the bare essentials of e-mail management tools, and a very minimal message composition window.
The Gmail experience is baked in through and through. You can view message threads, create and apply labels, and send messages from any of your aliases. But Mac OS X is well-represented too: Sparrow features Quick Look, an expandable message reading pane (for that three-column look that is increasingly popular), support for Growl notifications, plenty of keyboard shortcuts, and iOS-like toolbars that Apple has implemented in iPhoto ’11 and the upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.
If you need more (or something besides Gmail), Sparrow’s developers say that an update next month will bring support for general IMAP services. MobileMe, Yahoo, and AOL “will be integrated soon,” suggesting that careful attention might be paid to properly supporting the unique features of each service.
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David has been covering Apple and how to get the most out of its products since 2005. Now a freelance tech writer, he runs Finer Things in Tech, jots down thoughts at DavidChartier.com, occasionally starts outlining the great American tech novel, and might still get to snowboard Breckenridge one more time.