Sparrow is a minimalistic desktop email client for Mac OS X that is targeted towards GMail users only. Currently, its a beta, so don’t expect a finished quality product.
Sparrow’s USP is its minimalism which is unlike any other popular email client. It has a small Tweetie-like interface, which takes up very little space on your desktop, compared to Thunderbird or Apple Mail, which take up a complete Space in their default view. Here a sneak peak of how the interface looks –
In the first look, the small form factor looks beautiful, but I know that I will miss the comfortable reading space that usual clients like Thunderbird take up. This kind of an interface is more suited to something like a Twitter client (which it is inspired from), not a mail client.
The buttons on the top and left act as tabs, just like in Tweetie for various email related directories (Inbox, Sent Mail, Starred, Drafts, Compose Mail, Reply, Archive, Delete). Currently, there seems to be no support for GMail labels, which was rather disappointing, because I rely heavily on labels to manage the large amount of email I receive.
By default, double-clicking an email opens it another window with a sleek, quick animation. There is another feature which lets you quick-view emails in the same window by sliding out a small tray which is used to display the contents of the message.
Sparrow also supports some very intuitive and common keyboard shortcuts which are common in such Mac apps, such as Cmd + N for Compose New Mail. This partially compensates for the features missing from the main UI.
One thing that is seemingly broken is Growl Notifications. The notification mechanism is functional, but when I first added my account, I got a lot of separate notifications for how many new unread messages I had. It got so irritating, eventually I had to turn Growl notifications off from the preferences. But once this initial dust settles down, Growl seems to be working fine.
Another essential feature that Sparrow boasts of is support for multiple accounts, which is necessary for people who manage multiple accounts for work, home and friends.
Even though Sparrow is a beautiful minimal client, it has a long way to go. In my opinion, the UI is great the way it is right now, but more features can be added behind the interface to make the whole email interaction experience better. Right now, I felt quite uncomfortable with the hoops I had to jump to do simple stuff like moving multiple messages around.