As a convert from Mail.app to Sparrow (US$9.99), I naturally got a bit overexcited when I heard that version 1.2 of the Mac email app was going to be unveiled at TechCrunch Disrupt yesterday. After downloading and installing the latest version from the Mac App Store, I've got to say that I like some of the changes, while a few of the updates aren't making me as ecstatic.
The developers of Sparrow refer to Sparrow 1.2 as "the world's first social email client" and proudly display the Facebook icon in their marketing materials, but the integration with Facebook (below) is actually quite limited. First, you can add Facebook friends directly from Sparrow, eliminating the need to make a separate trip to Facebook to do that. The update also provides an option for users to link Sparrow to their Facebook account so that emails from friends display their Facebook avatars. Sparrow 1.2 also grabs images from Address Book and has support for Gravatar, providing a way to quickly identify incoming emails by sight. In his announcement at TechCrunch Disrupt, Sparrow co-founder Dom Leca noted that the company is working on integration with Twitter, LinkedIn and and Tumblr as well.
In theory, this is pretty cool. Seeing TUAW Editor-in-chief Victor Agreda, Jr. peering at me from my inbox is enough to get my attention. In practice, some of us get a ton of emails from individuals and corporations that we don't follow on Facebook and don't have Address Book entries for. That means that the inbox is cluttered with the default avatar image, which is a boring gray head on an even more boring light gray background. Fortunately, there's a preference setting for hiding those pictures.