Sparrow's email app beats Apple's native iOS email. The catch: Its best feature is only available if you're willing to jailbreak your iPhone.
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Sparrow 1.2 for the iPhone adds a nice selection of new features to the email application. Thanks to Apple, however, the most functional part of the app is only available to those willing to jailbreak their devices.
The new capabilities of Sparrow 1.2 were added thanks to user requests. First up is landscape composing support, which means iPhone owners can peck out emails on the larger keyboard that appears when the iPhone is held sideways. The app only works sideways for writing email, however, and not when surfing the inbox.
Sparrow 1.2 lets iPhone users swipe up and down between email threads. The app provides a visual separator to let users know when they've successfully swiped their way to the next email. This is a great feature, and negates the need to find and press a tiny software button on the screen in order to reach the next email. Gmail in the Android platform, for example, includes this swiping feature and is easy to get used to.
The app now works with eight more languages, including: Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Last, the application lets users create and edit folders on the fly, rather than rely on those created in the desktop email program and synced to the device.
Sparrow 1.2 also includes a range of bug fixes, notably the way contact pictures are rendered. Images are now generated much faster, providing less choppy behavior in the email app.
These are all nice upgrades for the app, but push is still missing. Sparrow explains in the update notes that this is Apple's fault, not Sparrow's. "Unfortunately, Apple has confirmed that they are not willing to do any exception to the rule and that Sparrow will NOT be granted with the privilege [of push services]" the company said. "This means we'll have to do Push on our side and that it will be integrated as a yearly subscription into Sparrow's future update." Apparently more than 16,000 Sparrow uses signed a petition hoping to convince Apple to change its mind regarding push, but that wasn't enough.
Push can be enabled for Sparrow, however, if you choose to jailbreak your iPhone. Once jailbroken, there are two add-on apps that make it work. Of course, jailbreaking the iPhone voids the warranty and wrecks its security.
Why use Sparrow?
Sparrow can be used to avoid the horrid email application on the iPhone. It has a better user interface, which is enough in my book. Apple's email program badly lags the experience Google provides for Gmail on the Android platform. Threaded email conversations are still wonky in the native iPhone email app, and navigation through emails is anything but speedy.
Sparrow was last updated to version 1.1 about a month ago, and the quick turnaround time to version 1.2 shows that the developers are serious about creating a compelling email alternative or those looking to skip Apple's version. It's worth taking a look.
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