Sparrow flies into Google’s roost as email app gets acquired

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Sparrow, the mail client popular with Mac users for its simple interface and navigation, was acquired Friday by Google, the startup announced on its blog. It’s a textbook move by Google to acquire new engineers and halt growth at a startup that threatened one of its crown jewels.

In the announcement on its blog, Sparrow said “While we’ll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users.” But whether those engineers plan to continue building and improving Sparrow is less clear, as they will be joining the Gmail team at Google.

Sparrow users received an email stating that the team would not be working on new updates for the service:

 We will continue to make available our existing products, and we will provide support and critical updates to our users. However, as we’ll be busy with new projects at Google, we do not plan to release new features for the Sparrow apps.

Sparrow was available as a desktop app for Mac and for iPhone, where it provided a minimalist interface for email, as GigaOM wrote at its app store launch in February 2011. While the service is especially popular with Gmail users, Sparrow can also be used with Yahoo, AOL, and other email services.

The first thing many will notice about Sparrow is that it doesn’t really feel like Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird or any other desktop mail client for the Mac that’s come before. Instead, its developers went for a much cleaner, minimalist approach that more closely resembles the UI of recent Twitter apps like the official one and Echofon.

Sparrow users reacted negatively to the news on Twitter, skeptical that the service would continue after Google’s acquisition:

This story was clarified at 10:15am to note that Sparrow works with several different types of web mail clients.

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