App.net is a social network and API that launched almost a year ago. I have been following it since the launch and registered for a free-tier account on April and I really like it. For the past month, I decided to recheck all of the apps that use the service for a better mobile experience.
App.net doesn't have an official client(on mobile, they have Alpha as a web client) like Facebook or Twitter, but instead is powered by 3rd party clients you can discover using the Passport app or the Directory.
I have been using Felix and Riposte as my iOS clients(Felix on the iPad and both Felix and Riposte on the iPhone), Whisper for iPhone messaging and Ohai as my private location journal and here is what I think about each app.
Felix and Riposte
Felix (by Bill Kunz) and Riposte (by Jared Sinclair and Jamin Guy) are the best iOS clients for App.net.
There's Netbot too, but as much as I love Tweetbot and it's maker Tapbots (and I really do), Netbot just doesn't feel right. It feels like someone hacked Tweetbot to use the App.net API instead of Twitter's and not like a client made just for App.net.
I'm reviewing Felix and Riposte together because I just can't use one of them without the other. I've had a hard time trying to pick my favorite client from the two but I just can't because they are so good, and if I use just one, I feel like I'm missing on the other.
Felix and Riposte share a lot of features, they both have a full screen mode for one handed use, they both support TextExpander, Opening links in Chrome, Logging in with Passport or 1Password, Read Later and Bookmarking services(Pocket, Instapaper, Readability and Pinboard), Dark mode for less strain on the eyes at night, Customizable fonts and text sizes, Cross-Posting to Twitter(Felix uses the Twitter iOS intergration and Riposte uses Buffer for cross-posting), Stream Marker, Uploading photos to App.net Files API, Droplr or Cloudapp, Post Drafts support, Swipe right to go back, Multiple accounts support, Support for Push notifications, Inline image previews, VoiceOver support, Search, Global Stream support, a powerful URL Scheme, and so much more. The apps are so feature rich that I could spend a week writing them all. But let's talk about what makes each app unique, what features set each app apart. First, pricing. If you want all the features, the apps cost the same. Felix is 2.99$ on the App Store for the iPhone version and 2.99$ for the iPad version, while Riposte is Free with a 2.99$ in-app purchase for a Pro features upgrade (Drafts, Customizable fonts, Auto Dark Mode, Full Quality image uploads, Status Bar hiding, QuickView for Messages, Screen Brightness Gesture and Fast Account Switching), Riposte was paid but changed to free to rely on the Developers Incentive Program, a program ran by App.net to pay the apps users use the most. Riposte has an Interactions tab that is an activity feed of who starred your posts, who reposted your posts, who replied to you, who followed you - everything anyone did to interact with you, and it is really useful. Riposte also has a Mobilizer (Readability and Instapaper supported) on the browser for better reading of sites, an unread posts count, Suppport for PNG Profile pictures with transparent background, a handy Last Photo Taken option for uploading photos and a Pixel Art Enhancement feature that prevents your cover or profile photo from going blurry while Felix offers iCloud Support (and an iPad version), Better Global Stream (Riposte supports only the basic Global Stream, while Felix also supports the Global Stream filters from Alpha - Global, Posts, Conversations, Photos,Trending and Checkins), Private Patter rooms on Private Messages, Opening links in 1Browser(1Password Browser) in addition to Chrome, Viewing the gesture help guide anytime by shaking the device, Support for check-in annotations, Using the stock iOS Twitter Keyboard and if fullscreen isn't your style, the iPhone version of Felix also offers a traditional non-fullscreen interface to use the app (you can reveal it with a pinch gesture).
Along with the features, the design of the apps are what makes me use both.
Riposte uses a left sidebar navigation menu, while Felix uses a unique menu called "The Puck". The Puck is a little circle that sits at one of your device's corners. You can easily move it to a nearby corner with a flick and expand it with a tap. It expands up when on the bottom corners, expands to the opposite site(left on the right side, right on the left side) on the upper corners and also comes with gestures to interact with it. Slide up to bring the post creation window, slide down to go to the top of the stream, slide to the sides to navigate between views(Stream, Mentions, Messages, Explore, Dashboard and Compose) and double tap to go back(you can also go back with a swipe to the right).
In Felix, Search, Profile, Settings and Support is all available on a page called the Dashboard, which is really nice. There are some things I like in each app more than the other.
I love the ability to see the status bar on Riposte and Felix for iPhone and I really miss it on my iPhone. I like scrolling the Stream and showing Post details(The Post detail with the cropped cover preview is stunning) on Felix more than Riposte, but I like Riposte's Profile view better than Felix's. I like the Puck more than the Sidebar, I like the font selection on Riposte better than Felix's, but I like the implementation of font changing on Felix better (When you change a font in Felix, it changes it anywhere, but when you change it in Riposte, the sidebar and settings remain unchanged). I'm not sure how I feel about the icons. The icons in Felix seemed odd when I started using it, but they have been growing on me. I'm still not sure how I feel about the Riposte sidebar icons. They look dull without the colors but look out of place with the colors (I keep Colorful Mode on until I decide what I feel about them).
Choosing what client to use is up to you, you can use both like me, you can use just one or you can even use Netbot which is great and free if you like it, it's entirely up to you. To me, both in Design and Features, Felix and Riposte complete each other to form the ultimate client.
Whisper is an App.net group messaging app by the makers of Riposte(Jared Sinclair and Jamin Guy). David Chartier used a nice analog to describe Whisper, Whisper is to Ripsote(and App.net) what Facebook Messenger is to Facebook. Take Riposte, remove features to focus on messaging, optimize the app and you got Whisper. Except the standard features you would expect, Whisper got some useful features you would recognize from Riposte, like Dark Mode and Auto Dark Mode, Status Bar and the option to hide it, full screen interface that can be turned off,The Screen Brightness Gesture,The Last Photo Taken feature, Web Mobilizer, Support for Multiple Accounts, a URL Scheme, customizable fonts and customizable font sizes. You can also look at profiles and follow people, but there is no search and the Profile doesn't include posts. Whisper is tightly integrated with Riposte and the integration is done very well. You can choose to set the QuickView button in Riposte to open Whisper instead of Riposte's in-app private messages view and a Launch Riposte button appears beneath the settings button after installing Whisper. Whisper is one of the most reliable and powerful messaging app I use and like Riposte, it's free with a Pro upgrade in-app purchase(Buying the Upgrade will unlock Auto Dark Mode, Multiple Accounts, Screen Brightness Gesture, Customizable fonts and Better Photo Uploads) that costs 1.99$. I highly recommend it.
Ohai by Steve Streza is an app for memories, it's a personal places journal based on App.net's Places API. Ohai came as the solution for a problem I had for a long time and didn't know how to solve - Keeping track of the places I've been in. It happened to me very often. I travel between a few places during the day, some of which are restaurants I enjoy or places I would like to remember, and I couldn't find the right way to keep my memories of them. With Ohai, you can check in in a nearby location or if there aren't any recognized nearby locations you can add a place. After choosing the place you can add a message to describe the check in or add a photo. You can share your checkins to App.net or Twitter, but it's entirely optional - and that's what makes Ohai different from other check in apps like Foursquare. There is just one feature I'm missing in Ohai, adding past checkins. Imagine this situation- You are in a party or event and forget to check in. When you get home, or wake up the morning after, it's too late to check in. Past check ins will prevent such situations.
The Design of Ohai is amazing. The app displays your checkins as a timeline of every day in a beautiful journal, where you can scroll every page of the journal for a different day where the first page of the journal is a credits and acknowledgements page and the last page is an "About the Author" page with your profile. I think the design fits perfectly with the app's idea.
If you are looking for a way to keep track of your places, or a way to check in in App.net, get Ohai for 4.99$ on the App Store. It's worth every penny.
You might have noticed that I haven't talked about the App.net service itself a lot in this article. That's because I don't think I can capture with words exactly how great is App.net.
The Passport approach, the powerful and reliable API, the thoughtful conversations, they are all an important part of the App.net experience and I think you just need to try it for yourself to get the idea.
If you don't have an App.net account, you can join in for free by clicking here or here. And if you are already on App.net, drop by and say hi.