Sparrow for iPhone updated: push coming soon as yearly subscription

Sparrow for iPhone updated: push coming soon as yearly subscription

Sparrow for iPhone is an email client that offers many more features than Apple's built in Mail app such as the ability to add attachments when composing a message, a multi-pane navigation layout, and custom signatures. The main new features in today's update is landscape composing, the ability to edit and create labels/folders, and easier navigation between messages. Unfortunately, the biggest feature that users have been waiting for, push notifications, is still absent from Sparrow.

The folks at Sparrow headquarters have been hard at work to bring push to their users. Sadly, their first attempt used a VoIP process that was entirely inappropriate for push email (it's meant for apps like Skype) and Apple rejected it.

but Apple has denied them the VoIP privileges needed in order to offer push notification for email, so they'll be doing it on their end. But here's the catch - push will not be a free upgrade. It won't even be a one-time in-app purchase. Push for Sparrow will be integrated as a yearly subscription.

You were more than 16 000 helping us on our Apple quest to get the VoIP privilege. We can’t thank you enough for your support. 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.

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.

There's no word yet on how much the subscription will cost.

How much would you be willing to pay to have push included with Sparrow? Personally, I'll wait to see if Apple has any surprises for the built-in Mail app in iOS 6 before committing to a subscription with Sparrow. But if Apple doesn't address some basic needs like adding attachments and custom signatures, I'll jump ship to Sparrow in a heartbeat -- I already have for Mac.

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Source: Sparrow

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Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

Sparrow for iPhone updated: push coming soon as yearly subscription


My exchange, embarqmail, and gmail all have notifications, how are they doing it? I do not mind paying a fee to help a developer keep a program updated, but a yearly fee just for push? Not sure if it would be worth it.

The native email client within iOS has ActiveSync capabilities which uses a heartbeat check of sorts against changes to the server's mailbox you set up. This new Sparrow client doesn't have this (most likely because they couldn't license it from Microsoft), so they're trying to do thier own bs workaround ala BIS on Blackberry. No thanks! In this day and age to pay someone for push email is rediculous. I'll take the few client limitations on the native iOS email instead of paying for an app and then paying a subscription just to have someone else check my email for me and send it to my device. Screw that! If I want that, I'll go back to Blackberry.

My first reaction [as a consumer] was "I'll never buy your app now" then as a developer "Oh...costs...yeah, I could see it that." lol. Me as a developer won't override me as a consumer though. I'll just stick with Mail.

I just checked their site. I forgot about the security problem. Basically they did not want to get involved with keeping usernames, and passwords on their servers stating "we are not ready for that" they will have to solve that issue to do push, or fetch. I like the app, and to be honest, I can do without push.

Wouldnt it be easier to just download the gmail app and use it just for the notifications. That way you can see when you have email and then open up Sparrow to take action on it. That way you get push notifications and still get to use the mail client of your choice.

I love Sparrow, and use it instead of mail. Especially If you are a heavy gmail user, it is fantastic.
I am not going to pay for Sparrow push, however, because Push is not a problem with Sparrow. People think the problem is Push, but it is not. It is related to push, but not push itself, and, more importantly, not solvable by Push -- not solvable at all unless Apple gives some ground here, which is doubtful.
Sparrow's problem is that, upon opening, it has to go download new messages. can do things in the background, so when you open it, at least some new messages are already there, ready to go. That gives a 5 second headstart on Sparrow for new mail. This is not Sparrow's fault, because Apple refuses to allow them the necessary hooks, but it is a drawback, and one that Sparrow cannot solve with Push.
For most tasks, I like Sparrow so much better than that Sparrow is my default, but, when you just want to get in and get out quickly, gets it done faster, and unfortunately always will unless Apple opens up more background possibilities (or you jailbreak.)

You're clueless. uses activesync as a push protocol, something Sparrow isn't licensed to do. Simple as that.

Sigh -- ActiveSync is not the only way to get mail in the background. IMAP Idle, for one. Long polling, for another.

Apple gets so preoccupied with screwing around with details like adding Twitter and killing off Google Maps in its iOS and then routinely misses stuff like a properly functioning Mail program.
Frankly, I don't see it happening in iOS 6 either - as access to files for attachments would imply access to the OS's file structure and, more worrying for Apple, the more fully featured the programs in the iOS (granted, most of the truly useful come from 3rd Party apps), then the more dangerous the iOS is - particularly in iPad form - to Apple's full OS as installed in their much pricier MacBooks.

FYI, there is a free jailbreak tweak called Sparrow Push that basically leaves Sparrow running in the background all the time and thus downloading messages. You get a little tone and/or vibrate every time it downloads a message. Supposedly in the next update it will have notification center support. It works great, and while I'm sure it uses more battery, I don't think I've noticed it, and I've been using it for the past few weeks.

You mean use the streaming audio API to stay open and receive "push" email? No, Apple got cranky. Hence them switching to a pay-for-server-side-push model.

Yup, I know why Apple got cranky, but if the JB tweak manages to use IMAP idle without having to muck up the background audio works, that might be worth me jailbreaking again. This old thread suggests that the dev managed to pull this off, but the FAQ on Sparrow Push's site do not say...

I worked for a company that specializes in mobile applications. I just want to state - - it's not Apple "being cranky". It's one of those fine things in the technology world that some people "don't get" or assume is easy and/or free. Push notifications and push email are expensive to operate. I don't know the exact cost, but I know for the company I worked for, push notifications (yes, the "simple" little notification at the top of the screen and the badge on icons) cost clients $20k to implement.

Push notifications, yes. IMAP Idle, not really. In Sparrow it would them approximately $0, because a) they had already developed it, and b) there would be no additional server infrastructure; Sparrow would be communicating with the email server directly, not through an intermediary.
Push notifications, yes -- they add a large ongoing cost to any application.

Just another reason not to update to 5.1.1 and stay jail broken, Sparrow works great with the Sparrow Push tweak. And if the author can incorporate notifications center support it will be even better.
I would not pay Sparrow a subscription fee just for push email. I'd just switch back to the mail app.

I hope they price it just as high as to cover the server costs... I'd hate for them to start making money hand over fist.

For the non JB community, go with Boxcar for you Sparrow push. It can even be configured to open Sparrow from the notification. It is the most elegant solution but it saves you from a yearly subscription fee(it may even be the service they end up using a la Twittelator Neue)

The built-in Mail app does allow adding certain attachments. PDFs in iBook and contacts can be emailed, photos can be copy/pasted in, and attachments in other emails can be forwarded. Which other attachments should it allow that it doesn't?