I absolutely love Sparrow for Mac as an email client. It’s usability and versatility is more useful to me than the default email app on OS X. So when I heard Sparrow was bringing their app to the iPhone, I signed up to be updated the minute it was available. When that day finally came, I raced to the App Store to download. But then I stopped dead in my tracks. My finger hovered of the $2.99 download button as I read the dreadful news:
Apple had put the kibosh on Sparrow’s ability to push email notifications through the app.
It was only released with, *gasp*, manual refresh.
Sparrow’s ability to integrate Facebook, provide fun and useful user interface, navigation with labels, and better email account switching and management was just too tempting for me to pass up. So I skipped a fancy coffee, and gave them my $2.99.
At first I set it up so iOS’ Mail app would still ping me with the push notification of a new email, then I’d use Sparrow to do my emailing. Naturally, this proved confusing and felt clumsy to go back and forth. Finally, I just moved entirely to Sparrow.
That’s when something fascinating happened.
I was no longer whipping my phone out of my pocket at every ding, buzz and rattle. I was not interrupting conversations to see a mass marketed email from a store I bought that one thing from, that one time, two years ago. I was no longer at email’s beckon call to respond or acknowledge its existence the moment it was received. I stopped serving my time to email. I got back to checking email being on my own schedule like the good ‘ol days of dial-up connection, AOL, and the once exciting phrase, “You’ve got mail!”
That’s the funny thing about smartphones. They see this feature like it’s a privilege to be able to respond to emails immediately. To me, it was not a privilege it was a responsibility.
Why was I subjecting myself to more responsibility than anyone wanted? Email communication is not a text or phone call. There is a culture that email is communication of lesser importance and casual response.
I thought I had to have push email to get the most out of my iPhone experience, but really I was just making more work for myself. Today, we are ultra-connected. iDevices are great for that. But ultra-connected can be over-connected. Finding the right balance is tricky, and for me dropping push notification was like catching a breather during a long run.
I’ve gone almost two months now without push notifications on both my mobile and desktop. But it took me a couple of weeks, and a force of hand to really see its benefits. I’m less distracted. I am even better at replying to emails because I’ve stopped using the excuse that I’ll write them back later, and I take care of all my emails at once. Feel free to try my theory out to see if it works for you.
Sparrow says they are bringing push notification to Sparrow for iPhone with or without Apple’s help. And that’s fine. I’m sure there will be more adoption with that as a feature. But for me, when that day comes, I’ll be sticking with the manual refresh.
Let us know what you think:
What mail client do you use on your iDevices?
Are you a slave to push notifications?