Yesterday, Tapbots finally released their iOS clients for App.net, i.e. Netbot for iPhone and Netbot for iPad. Netbot is not the first App.net client for the iPhone, but it is the first one for the iPad. In fact, Tapbots are a little late to the party, because there are already other solid apps for the iPhone, such as Felix and Adian.
Built from Tweetbot
If you use Tweetbot on your iPhone, you would immediately notice that Netbot and Tweetbot have many similarities. Tapbots' signature features such as interactive sounds, video uploading, support for multiple accounts, mute users/services, iCloud syncing for timeline and mute filters, post translation, web mobilizer, and inline image viewing are found in Netbot. Netbot is so similar to Tweetbot that you would not be able to distinguish visually which app you're currently in if you stumble into any one of them upon unlocking your iPhone.
Sometimes you can feel that Netbot is a bit rushed, because it is missing many of the expected features in an App.net iOS client, such as push notifications, automatic URL shortening, user profile editing, hashtag search, and geolocation. You can even find small bugs and texts that are not supposed to be included in an App.net client, e.g.:
"Mute filters are only applied to your main timeline and lists."
Netbot can definitely improve a lot from this initial build by adding features such as Storify integration (or another way to save conversations other than emailing them), Watermark integration, and keyword muting. With the existence of other solid App.net clients on the App Store, I believe Netbot really needs to actively update its features to stay competitive.
Twitter Cross Posting and Friends Finder
If you own both Twitter accounts and App.net accounts, you might be having problems keeping up with both services. Fortunately, Netbot is released with an innovative feature, i.e. cross posting to one or more Twitter accounts you control.
Simply by tapping on the "New Post" label inside the compose window, you can setup which Twitter accounts you want this post to be cross-posted to. Netbot will remember and apply the last settings that you used for all of your future posts. If your post has more than 140 characters, Netbot will automatically truncate your post and add a link to the original App.net post in the cross-posted tweets. If you view the details of the tweet, you will notice that the tweet is posted from the built-in Twitter API for iOS, instead of Netbot.
Another surprising feature in Netbot is its ability to find your Twitter friends in App.net. With Twitter kicking Instagram and Tumblr from its Friend Finder service, this move by Netbot might be a bit risky. I was able to find more than 15 App.net users that I followed on Twitter but wasn't able to find manually. If you have purchased Netbot, I suggest you use this feature immediately, before it gets killed by Twitter.
The Small Details
In addition to the Tapbots' signature features and the innovative Twitter-related features, Netbot also has many of the expected features from an App.net client, i.e. support for multiple draft posts; username and hashtag completion; integration with Instapaper, Pocket and Readability; star a post; native repost; user search; reply all; and conversation view. Yet, for me personally, it's the small details that I appreciate from the Netbot's design.
First, if you managed to see the background texture of Netbot, it shows the 0008 code. Tweetbot for iPhone has the 0004 code and Tweetbot for iPad has the 0006 code. Tweetbot for Mac in its Beta status has no code, and I wonder what its code would be. As a geek and Tapbots fan, these details really intrigue me.
Second, you can see the number of reposts and stars that a post has. You can see them when you tap on the Gears icon in the Timeline view, or when you view the details of a post. When you view a post in detail, you will see a small popup icon indicating how many users have reposted and starred that post. With App.net API's ability to show who these users are, this feature really shines. Tweetbot has to rely on Favstar.fm to achieve the same functionality just because Twitter API does not support it.
Finally, I personally like the way Netbot hides the Global Stream inside the Search tab. While many App.net users may not agree with me, it's quite rare for me to ever need such feature. While it is an awesome way to find new users, with more users joining App.net and the more active they are, the harder it is for me to find the time to browse through it.
Integration with Camera+ and Launch Center Pro
I love both Camera+ and Launch Center Pro. The fact that Netbot is released with integration to both of these apps is just amazing. Camera+ is my go-to app for taking and editing photos on the iPhone. Similar to Tweetbot, you can access the photos in your Lightbox from within the compose window in Netbot.
On the other hand, Launch Center Pro helps me to achieve more by tapping less. It is responsible for clearing several apps from my home screen and dock. With up to 8 actions that you can choose from the Action Composer, and possibly more actions once Netbot and App.net catch up to Tweetbot's and Twitter's features set, I believe Netbot is the go-to app for most geeks. Similar to what I have setup with Tweetbot, I am using the Post Text with Clipboard action to shortcut my way into Netbot.
If you love Tweetbot for iPhone, you would instantly love Netbot for iPhone. As a heavy Tweetbot user, Netbot is an instant buy for me. If you've been looking for an iPad client for App.net, Netbot for iPad is the first (and possibly the best) app available on the App Store.
If you have already purchased an iOS client for App.net, such as Felix or Adian, I would suggest you to keep them installed on your iPhone. The fact that Netbot has not supported push notifications allows these other apps to get used more frequently, especially when someone else mentions you.
If you haven't joined App.net yet, I think this is the perfect time. With App.net's recent price drop, its developer incentive program and the release of Netbot for iPhone and iPad, I can't see any reason why you should wait. With Tweetbot for Mac coming to the App Store very soon, I believe Netbot for Mac would be available not long from now.