I’ve been excited to try Sparrow on my iPhone since I saw it announced last year. I haven’t been a fan of the desktop app as I’m so hopelessly dependent on MsgFiler with Mail.app to support my email workflow, but I was hoping that Sparrow on the iPhone would be an improvement over the included iOS Mail app (especially if it had some kind of type-to-file support).
So when I saw chatter about it last night, I went ahead and purchased right away. I don’t use GMail, but that shouldn’t be a problem since it has:
Full IMAP support:
Use your Gmail, Google Apps, iCloud, Yahoo, AOL, Mobile Me and custom IMAP accounts.
When I launched the app, this is what I saw:
Ok, that’s not what I need. I need a way to enter in my IMAP server and account details. But this isn’t too uncommon with a mail app. I’ll just enter in my details and wait for it to fail, then it will show me an “advanced” button or something to let me enter the server settings directly.
Hmm, that’s not helpful. I’m not even trying to connect to Gmail.
I tried adding a Gmail account and going into the settings to see if I could adjust the mail server addresses manually from the account settings screen – no can do.
It appears that Sparrow’s only set-up path is to be clever and try to guess at what I need. Like most software with this approach, it fails in real world situations. It may be a great mobile mail app, but if I can’t get it to connect to my account it’s completely useless to me.
Sparrow isn’t the only app that fails like this. The WordPress for iOS app fails in the same way. I believe the WordPress app tries to load an HTML page and look for some specific information (the XMLRPC URL) that it needs for communication (perhaps with a few guesses as well).
If you have a WordPress site that requires a login, your results to add that site to the WordPress iOS app will likely look something like this:
No, I need a damn text field!
I’m quite capable of typing in the XMLRPC URL myself (like I’ve done for other apps that post to my WordPress site) and I have no problem with that being an extra, manual step since my WordPress site is a little non-standard. However, that’s not an option.
I grow weary of people holding up Apple as an ideal of simplicity, trying to follow that model, but failing to properly account for real world usage in their clever user friendly designs. When you place “simple” ahead of “functional”, you’ve failed.