Mobile Tip: How To (Sort Of) Get Notifications for Sparrow on iOS
Last week, the independent development team known as Sparrow announced that they had been bought by Google. For those of you that are unaware of what Sparrow is (if so, it may be best just to stop reading at this point) — Sparrow is an email application for OS X and iOS that thousands of users greatly enjoyed using over the default Mail apps, which includes myself. When Sparrow was first released for iOS, I was a bit taken back by the lack of push notifications and deleted the app almost immediately after my initial download.
After reading a great article on Lifehacker about establishing a hierarchy of communication (done by establishing what communications is most important in your day-to-day life) and how email isn’t something that should constantly interrupt your day, unless it’s essential to your work. So, on that premise I decided to give Sparrow another go. Since then I’ve enjoyed Sparrow’s great user interface and in-app browsing (just a few great features) on a daily basis.
Origin of the Workaround
Unlike some, my personal email doesn’t really coincide with work (I can’t access work email on my iPhone), so the lack of push notifications wasn’t really bothersome. One day, though, I checked my email and noticed that I received a message from my editor (at a tech blog where I write app reviews) about a new app that needed a review published quickly. I really wanted to review the app, but another writer beat me to the punch. This was a case in which I wished Sparrow had push notification.
Instead of switching back to the default Mail app, I stuck with Sparrow, hoping push notifications would arrive. As luck would have it, the developers announced in May that an update that would allow users to pay for push notifications was on its way. Unfortunately, the rug was pulled out from under everyone last week when it was announced Google was taking over Sparrow, and that no major updates were going to be released. Luckily, by that point I had figured out a system that provided me with some type of email notification.
Some of you may already have a work around on your iPhone that involves using Boxcar. If you haven’t heard of this “hack,” the Sparrow team provided a full set of instructions on how to set it up. My work around, on the other hand, doesn’t required the use of another service. However, it’s not exactly as full-fledged as the Boxcar method. The premise of this method is based on the notion that you’re currently using the default Mail app and have added all your desired email accounts; if this isn’t the case, this method will not work for you.
Begin by shutting down notifications for the default Mail app, which is done by going to Settings > Notifications > Mail. When you’re there, turn everything off.
Next, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data. Turn on the Push option, if it’s not already on. Alternately, you can turn off the Push option and select one of the Fetch options (I actually have both Push and Fetch turned on, but I’m not sure that serves any useful purpose).
The final step is done by going to Settings > Sounds > New Mail. By default, a notification sound should already be set for receiving emails, but if not make sure a sound is selected.
So, what exactly did you just do? The basis of this work around is that you’ll received a notification sound when you receive a new email, but you won’t actually get a visual prompt. Obviously, this method isn’t exactly very friendly if you’re away from your phone and receive an email. My phone is typically is docked on my desk at work or in my pocket when I’m elsewhere, so I find this work around to fit my needs. As for you, you’ll have to decide if the lack of a visual notification is a compromise you’re willing to make.