Reddit is the self-proclaimed front page of the internet. The site receives links of current events, pictures, videos, and commentary that users can vote up or down in order to move content to the front page. The site leaves much to be desired in the user interface category, but Alien Blue on the iPad provides a better Reddit browsing experience than you’ll experience on the web.
Alien Blue is a full featured Reddit client to stay up on the latest happenings on the internet. Using the app a user can browse Reddit and also get involved in the conversation. Commenting on items is easy and visually appealing thanks to the unique animation once tapping to create a comment. Alien Blue also makes it really easy and accessible to either up or down vote content. Read on to see why Alien Blue is the preferred Reddit experience.
The design and UI of Alien Blue is remarkable. I liked the design so much I started browsing Reddit again just so I could use the app. The web design of Reddit was not to my liking, so much so that I would not stay on the service at all. Seeing Alien Blue brought me back into the Reddit realm – it’s becoming the preferred way to browse Reddit on an iOS device.
The app is separated into three panes. The size of the panes are editable in the settings. An option to use compact panes while in portrait mode is offered and another option is available to resize panes to fit the screen.
I have the option Resize Panes to Fit the screen selected since I prefer the behaviour of the panes filling the screen at all times.
As previously mentioned, everything in the app loads horizontally from the right. This can mean that the user will end up with a horizontal scrolling list of items to scroll back through when changing subreddits or getting back to the front page.
While scrolling is smooth, the quick the menu bar is always in sight with a quick back button. The menu bar can be hidden if preferred but an option to unhide it always rest at the bottom left corner of the app.
On the left edge of the app is the menu bar which allows access to the settings, messages, and quick access to the most recent subreddit that is being browsed such as Technology or Front Page. The first pane beside the menu bar holds account information and access to subreddits. Selected subreddits will load in an individual pane. Selected content and comments will load in subsequent panes.
Text in the app is crisp and easy to read, the color schemes are all great and the familiar neutral gray background will reside no matter what theme is chosen. There are five color themes to choose from to customize the Reddit experience further. The color theme options are Classic Blue, Lion-Wood, Lion-Linen, Blossom, and Fire.
Personally I use the Lion-Linen theme but all of the options look great.
Alien Blue is also Retina ready for the new iPad users and was updated rather quickly after the launch of the new iPad. It’s always nice to see a developer caring about their product and updating it quickly. The app also supports a night mode which makes it easier to browse in low light situations.
Entering into a subreddit will bring up a list view of items fitting the subreddit’s description. The items can be sorted based upon popularity, how controversial an item is, and how new an item is. Pulling down while in a subreddit will invoke the pull to refresh feature. Within the list a user can up vote or down vote content. At the top of the list are three options, Canvas View, New Post, and Search. Canvas View loads images from each post and the images are laid out horizontally across the screen.
Tapping an image will open a bigger view of the image with access to the original post and comments. Canvas view is a unique feature in Alien Blue and makes it incredibly easy to scan images quickly for the item you are looking for or to make interesting items stick out even easier.
Clicking an item will open it in a third pane which slides in from the right side of the screen. Images and videos load right in the pane. Clicking on these items will force it to full screen. Above the item loaded in the content pane are buttons which allow the user to act on content.
These buttons allow access to the comments, action, star, down vote, and up vote. The action button includes several options which are listed below :
- Open in Safari
- Send To…
- Google Reader
- Read it Later (Pocket)
- Read with Mobilizer
- Read with Readability
- Save To Reddit
Comments load in a vertical scrolling list. Scrolling in the list is smooth and parent comments with replies are set apart nicely in outline format. Pressing a comment will activate an action bar which allows the user to collapse the comment, an action button, respond to the comment, down vote, and up vote. The action button includes options to :
- Scroll to Parent
- Copy to Clipboard
- Email Comment
- View commenter’s profile
Adding comments will reveal a nice animation leading to the comment window.
When commenting a user can quote the original comment, add a photo, save as a draft, and load previously saved drafts. Of course, the look of disapproval also made it into the commenting window.
I think it speaks volumes when an app is so well done that it brings users back to a service. It’s not unusual for users to prefer to use an app instead of the website, but I think it’s rare for an app to bring users to a service. I am sure that most Twitter users prefer the experience on their iOS device instead of logging into the website, but most users would still use the website if that was their only choice. Thankfully I am not stuck not using Reddit and can enjoy the experience on the iPad with Alien Blue.
If you have never understood Reddit or refused to use the service because the visual appeal was lacking, I encourage you to try Alien Blue. The app is a delightful way to browse and be active in the Reddit community.