What do we have here? Sparrow, a brand new mail client for OS X; minimal, quick, in a fresh new UI for Mail. The user interface of course is straight out of Tweetie for Mac, something that cannot be unseen. Tall vertical window, with rounded avatars for your email accounts, and destinations beneath them. Click on one and it slides into view, bringing its list of messages in the right window pane.
Sparrow is Gmail only, for now. They plan on adding support later, but you can’t go beyond adding a Google Accounts. When you launch and set up your accounts, it starts pulling down all your messages for offline storage, which could take a while depending on your internet connection. The list of messages looks extremely similar to what you see on iOS, down to the blue dots, styling, and the indicator for a conversation view. In fact, the UI is so similar it doesn’t even have a scrollbar, a fact very apparent to me since I had to use a Mighty Mouse with a stuck scrollball at the time. Yes, I tried pulling down on the messages.
Viewing emails involves either double-clicking to view each conversation in its own window, or to forfeit the tall window by bringing up the message pane to the right. I would kill to have this kind of user interface for Mail on the iPad. The conversation view reminds you that this is a Gmail affair, pulling from the same colour palette, which to me looks a bit odd on the desktop.
Sparrow is very simple, but it does most of the things you would need from a mail client frontend. It’s not as powerful as Mail or Postbox, but it’s powerful enough that you will be notified of your email, look at it on your desktop in the right perspective, and send out a reply without having to leave the window. There are some things I don’t like about the app. It’s a little slow sometimes because of the needless animations between actions. Fugly icon, too, which again is largely styled along the looks of the Tweetie icon.
But Sparrow is in beta right now, but a public one with everyone can check out. If you’re amused by the thought of moving from Mail app, and you live on Gmail, this might just be something worth checking out.