If you miss using Sparrow, you may well be interested in a new app that just arrived in the Mac App Store. Airmail is a new native email client for OS X(s AAPL) from app developer Bloop. Available now for $1.99, the developers state you’ll get a “powerful mail client with a minimal design” providing a “modern and easy-to-use experience.”
As a staunch Gmail(s GOOG) user I find myself making extensive use of labels — among other key features — to manage, sort and archive the multitude of incoming messages hitting my inbox. Due to this seemingly unwavering dependency on Gmail’s more advanced feature set, I’ve never really found favor with Apple’s default Mail application — yup, it may well suit many, but it isn’t for me — instead I find myself constantly seeking alternative solutions beyond that of the default web interface, despite its humble effectiveness.
Sparrow was one such hope, offering to scratch the itch of a neat desktop mail client that worked well with Gmail, and for a while it definitely fit the bill. Sparrow presented a clean and straightforward design, along with enough features to keep most avid Gmail users happy. However, following Google’s acquisition of the Sparrow team, development on the app came to a sudden halt and thus my search continued. After Sparrow’s death last summer, Ellis Hamburger of The Verge looked at what alternatives were available, concluding that very few clients were actively contending for “the Mac mail crown.”
Now it seems Airmail is ready to take its shot at said crown, quietly launching on the Mac App Store this Wednesday.
Taking it for a spin
Airmail has an impressive feature set, most noticeably its well integrated multiple account support and general speediness. A more thorough run-through of features includes the likes of support for folders — nested or otherwise — aliases, keyboard shortcuts, including support for Gmail shortcuts, drag and drop, filters, Notification Center support, full-screen mode and more.
Prior to hitting the Mac App Store, Bloop’s app has been available in a free public beta since earlier this year, and I’ve been using it on and off for a while now. During my time with Airmail, despite a few issues with slow startup, I have been pleasantly surprised at how unassuming the app is. Once it’s actually up and running Airmail is fast, works exactly as you would expect and has a few neat touches, such as the filters to quickly see new mail, mail messages with attachments, or those from a selected sender for example. Switching between multiple accounts works great, but currently Airmail only supports IMAP mail services.
While in beta the app received updates at a rapid pace, and it seems this welcomed fast development process is going to carry over to the Mac App Store build — while writing this article an update was pushed out, going from 1.0 to 1.0.2 in its first day.
Airmail strikes a favorable balance between offering a selection of great features and a simplistic interface. Like Sparrow that came before it, Bloop’s Airmail is a mail client striving to retain a certain straightforwardness to the act of sending email.
For a $1.99 it’s worth a try, especially for the devoted Gmailer.