Sparrow for iPhone is great. And I mean hands-down, why-the-hell-isn’t-Apple’s-mail-app-this-good? kind of way. I like it so much, in fact, that I am even using it pixel-doubled on my iPad.
But there’s just one problem: no push, and no notifications. To enable local notifications, Sparrow would have to store your e-mail login details on its servers, and deal with all the responsibility that that brings.
The first version of Sparrow for iPhone included a clever workaround to let it poll for mail in the background, but Apple crashed its ban-hammer down on this wrongful use of the network event APIs.
But there’s a workaround, using the excellent BoxCar app and some simple setting up of your Gmail account.
Sparrow has published a how-to titled “How to setup push with Boxcar.” If you’re already using Boxcar — the push-forwarding service for iOS and Mac — for your mail, then you need do nothing but choose Sparrow as your e-mail client in the Boxcar preferences. If not, there are a couple more steps.
First, install Boxcar and choose to add a new e-mail account. Fill in the required fields and make sure to check Sparrow as your e-mail client. Boxcar will give you an e-mail address to which mail should be forwarded.
Head over to Gmail and in the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” preference, set Gmail to forward all mail to this new address. It will send a verification which you’ll find inside Boxcar. Complete the verification process and sit back, ready to enjoy push notifications for all your mail.
There are some caveats: the first is that you have to be happy sending all your mail to Boxcar’s servers. The second is that, when you tap the notification, you are taken to Sparrow, but not to that mail in question. Instead, you’re dumped in the inbox. Hopefully Sparrow can add this in a future update.
So there you have it. Push notifications for the iPhone’s best mail app. And did I mention Boxcar is free?