It has been three months since my last review of Felix, an App.net client for the iPhone. Apparently, a lot of things have improved since then. Yesterday, Bill Kunz, the developer of Felix, released an update that is beautiful, packed with features and definitely worth the shout out.
Until yesterday, I was mainly a Netbot user as I was accustomed to Tweetbot's look and feel. But today, I can safely say that Felix is the best App.net client for the iPhone and can't wait for Bill to release an iPad version.
When I read the description in today's release notes, fullscreen mode didn't seem appealing. However, I was wrong. The app does look beautiful in a fullscreen mode. It is so beautiful that I wish other apps would start to offer fullscreen mode as well.
Simply pinch out from any view to enter the fullscreen mode. It works in any view but I personally think that it is especially useful when applied to a timeline view. Both the navigation bar on top and the tab bar below are removed from the screen, giving you a focused look at your timeline.
To accommodate the actions that you typically perform in the navigation bar and the tab bar, the new update introduces several gestures:
- Pinch in to exit full screen mode
- Shake your iPhone to view the description of these gestures
- Two-finger swipe left/right to move between tabs
- Two-finger swipe down to go to the top of your timeline
- Two-finger swipe up to open the new post window
- Hold down a finger and rotate counterclockwise with the other finger to go back from the current view
I personally find these gesture-based actions to be sufficient, except for the back button replacement which is a bit difficult to perform. Otherwise, I can perform all of the actions fluently without having access to the navigation bar nor the tab bar.
App.net announced their messaging APIs last month. In addition to its most obvious use case as a private messaging platform, the APIs are powerful enough to handle several use cases, such as chatrooms, IM-style messaging and group texting. Until today, there hasn't been any iOS client that supports this feature. The only way App.net users can access it is through their sample client implementation, called Omega.
Fortunately, the new update to Felix supports private messaging. Honestly, it's always a bit awkward for me to send and read private messages on the web. I warmly welcome this update and look forward to using this feature more.
Favorite Features from 1.1 and 1.2
In addition to the excellent features introduced in 1.3 version update, Felix has also added other great ones in 1.1 and 1.2 version updates. Here are some of my favorites:
- Image previews. Similar to Twittelator Neue, you can see previews of image attachments underneath the posts as you browse your timeline.
- One-tap avatar-based actions. With a single tap on a user avatar, you can hold and swipe to the action icon that you want to perform, then release it to trigger the action.
- Unified timeline. If you love to read all your mentions in chronological order alongside with the other posts in your timeline, you can set this feature on.
- felix:// URL integrations. My two favorite productivity apps are Drafts and Launch Center Pro. Using callback URLs, Felix can be deeply integrated in these apps. For example, I can trigger a new post in Drafts from Launch Center Pro without being distracted by the posts in my timeline and have it sent to Felix once I'm ready to publish it.
- Gesture-based reply action. As a long time Tweetbot user, I'm used to perform two taps to trigger a reply form. I really appreciate that Felix supports the same functionality with a single swipe to the left.
Felix has come a long way since its initial version. It has evolved greatly both in UI and functionality that I believe it deserves to become the best App.net client for the iPhone. The fullscreen mode and image previews have made browsing my App.net timeline a beautiful experience. I wish other social networking apps would be inspired and start creating beautiful experiences while browsing their feeds.
Even when you're not an App.net user, I would highly recommend you check out some of the screenshots for Felix. If you have a black iPhone, browsing the feeds in your timeline on a fullscreen mode is very beautiful.