As someone whose is often away from his computer, I am grateful to own an iPhone. I do many of my tasks on it, and I would feel so lost without it.
When I contemplated joining App.net, one of the things that appealed to me most was its great Alpha web client. But, as I have said before, I am an iPhone-first kind of person. While I am happy with the Alpha web client, I still think that App.net needs to have a good client for the iPhone.
Last week, we saw the release of AppNet Rhino as the first App.net client for iPhone. It felt more like an Alpha version than a finished product, but the fact that it was available on the App Store helped many users to use the App.net service more. In fact, according to the analytics data from Appnetizens, AppNet Rhino is in the Top 10 clients for App.net.
In all honesty, I would use a better client, but AppNet Rhino was the only one available at the time. In my review last week, I wrote several things that I felt were missing from AppNet Rhino:
Here are some of the possible features that I can think off the top of my head: repost feature, copy post contents (quote post), URL shorteners, search feature, live feed streaming, image/video attachments, gestures, push notifications, mute filters, integration to other services, drafts, and support for multiple accounts.
Fortunately, Adian for iPhone was released today, answering most of my feature requests. As you read this review, you will find that Chad Etzel, the developer behind Adian, must have worked really hard to deliver a well-rounded app.
Adian is an App.net client for the iPhone that feels really fast and responsive. I would say it is about 80% as speedy as Tweetbot for iPhone, which, I believe, is an accomplishment.
The app has your typical four tabs, i.e. Timeline, Mention, User Profile and Global Stream. You can do a pull-to-refresh gesture in the app to update the feed stream in each tab, or inside the compose window to see the original post that you're replying to. You can also find the Compose Post button in the top right corner of each tab.
Swiping to the right in a post will trigger a black bar to appear containing the reply button, the repost button and the show conversation button. If you swipe on your own post, the app will reveal a delete button. The swipe gesture is also supported inside a conversation view, allowing you to conveniently reply and repost from within it.
Adian uses the ">>" convention instead of "RP" to mark a repost. With its current success as the #1 App.net client (as reported by Appnetizens), Adian could very well be spreading the use of ">>" as a replacement for Twitter's "RT" convention.
Composing a Post
This is possibly one of the most important features in any App.net client. The compose window in Adian shows four buttons on top of the virtual keyboard, i.e. the # (hashtag) button, the @ (mention) button, the Settings button, and the Camera button.
The # (hashtag) button supports auto-completion using your latest hashtags, whereas the @ (mention) uses the accounts that you follow as its list of values. I find this to be very helpful. One known bug that will be fixed in the next update is each time you tap the # (hashtag) button, it would take you to the end of the post regardless of the current position of your cursor.
The Settings button is where the goodies are stored. You can access your drafts and/or have Adian shorten the links in your post using bit.ly. Each time you hit the cancel button in the compose window, Adian will prompt you to save your current unsent post as draft. If you choose to do so, you can access your draft via the Settings button anytime you're about to send a new post.
Adian is also one of the few App.net clients that allow you to upload pictures as attachments in your post. In the app, there is a Camera button that allows you to upload a picture from your Camera Roll, Photo Stream or your Photo Albums. Even better, the app also allows you to use live filters while taking photos.
Once you're done taking pictures, you can opt to store them in FireFoto or in Flickr. The app also allows you to set image sizes, i.e. full size, 1024x1024, 640x640, or 480x480. The catch is Adian's built-in picture attachment only supports square-sized pictures.
One more thing, the compose window in Adian shows a progress bar that will update its color as you're typing towards the 256 character limit. It starts as transparent, moving to green, yellow and blue, before eventually turning to red if you go above the limit. There is a nice surprise when you write exactly 256 characters in your post: the progress bar will turn blue, and you will hear a "Yay!" cheering sound effect in the background as your post is sent to App.net.
One important feature in any App.net client would be push notifications, and thank goodness Adian supports this. The app will notify you each time you are mentioned in a post. It also supports a nice in-app push notification similar to Tweetbot's when you're actively using the app. Instead of copying what Tweetbot uses, Adian creatively uses a non-intrusive black popup window that disappears within seconds. It was fast enough that I didn't have the time to take a screenshot of it when I stumbled upon the feature for the first time.
Even though Adian doesn't support any Search feature yet, it supports the hashtag timeline. Hence, if you see a post with a hashtag, you can tap on the post to see a detailed view and then on the hashtag to see all posts in the Global Stream marked with the same hashtag.
Adian also supports a nice mute feature. This is great for say, when a user you follow is covering a live event and you don't want to be bothered by the constant posts. You can always unmute that user later. I hope this feature could grow into a more mature level, e.g. similar to what Tweetbot has today.
In its user profile view, Adian is quite informative, showing you the user profile, follower/following lists, posts, and the App.net user ID. If you tap a user's avatar, you can also view it in full screen mode.
Finally, Adian has support for multiple accounts. It also has a nice in-app browser that allows you to do many things with the page you're viewing, i.e. send it to Instapaper or Pocket, share it via e-mail or SMS, or open it in Safari. Other services that Adian supports include Pinboard, Kippt, Readability, Google Reader and Tumblr. I didn't test each and every one of these, but they sure are a lot of services to support on the day of your first release. Kudos to Chad Etzel!
If you're looking for a full-fledged App.net client for the iPhone, don't hesitate to purchase Adian now. It is well worth the price tag that you may need to pay today. With so many features it has managed to finalize on its first day, I have great faith that Adian will have a great future ahead of its competitors.