I’ve made it no secret that I’m a fan of App.net (ADN). I’ve reviewed ADN clients at iPad.AppStorm’s iPhone and Android sister sites, and I think the future of the platform is brighter than any of us might know right now. As it is though, this is a social network still in its infancy and it’s hard to find an app you’ll love using with it.
With that in mind, I thought it’d be worth taking a look at your options on the iPad platform. There’s a huge variety of interfaces available, even within the apps currently available, and you’re likely to find something you’ll fall in love with here.
If you’ve ever used Tweetbot on your iPad or iPhone, you have a good idea of what to expect from Netbot. The app is largely the same animal as Tweetbot, but it of course keeps up with ADN instead of Twitter. It handles everything you’d expect from a social networking client — multiple clients, notifications, and and timeline sync.
There’s support for every service imaginable: Droplr, CloudApp, Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, etc. This is as fully-loaded as it gets and, unlike Tweetbot, it’s free. That being said, some people who already use Tweetbot might think Netbot‘s design is redundant. This is my go-to client and I can’t recommend it highly enough, but I understand some people’s desire for change.
Patter is a chatroom service built around ADN. ADN’s open technology allows you to use the networking service’s private messages as a chatroom, and Patter turns it into a chatroom specifically for your iPad. The first comparison that comes to mind is that it reminds me of a combination of iMessage and MSN.
The problem with apps like Patter is that they’re inherently useful only if you keep up with colleagues and/or friends on the network you’d like to chat with regularly and, most importantly, privately. That being said, if you’re a regular on ADN, you’re probably going to love this app.
Developer: Blue Boxen, LLC
hAppy describes itself as “yet another App.net client.” It has all the key features of App.net and features a slick interface. Some extras include support for multiple accounts and even url schemes, so people that like to create intricate url-based workflows with their social networks are going to find a lot to like here. The interface is dark and reminds me a little bit of the infamous Holo-themed apps available on the Android platform, which, in this case, isn’t a bad thing,
The app used to be free, but the developer now charges a small fee. If you find that pill hard to swallow, remember that at least you know there’s a monetary plan in place for hAppy‘s continued success.
Developer: Dominik Hauser
If you’re interested in url schemes and integrating your favourite web services with ADN, you owe it to yourself to consider Drafts, a text app designed to help you use url schemes to get your text anywhere, and Mr. Reader, a fantastic RSS Reader that supports url schemes for iOS workflows.
AppNet Rhino is the original ADN client. It was the first on the market, but in this case, it feels a little rushed. Rhino is extremely minimal in both form and function, which means it has a pleasing aesthetic but its capabilities are limited, especially compared to the competition. The app has Buffer support, which is useful for analytics, but beyond that its interface can be annoyingly counter-intuitive and slow considering its simplicity.
If you’re looking to dip your toes in the ADN pool without getting too wet or simply plan on using Rhino strictly as a Twitter clone, you might be interested in checking this out, but there are better free clients out there (cough, Netbot, cough).
Developer: AppNet Rhino
Zephyr is on the pricier side, but its user interface is upper-class and it looks great on both iPhone and iPad. The app supports all the major ADN features and also includes notification support, which some apps (like Rhino) are missing. It’s speedy, supports multiple accounts, and can sync your stream between devices. There aren’t many features this app doesn’t support, and the developers are the first to remind you it could be the fastest ADN app on the App Store. If time is money, time saved is money earned, so you’ll make back that $4.99 in no time.
This is the sort of app I’d recommend to people who want all the functionality of Tweetbot with a new window dressing. After all, who doesn’t like something new?
Developer: Ender Labs
Screenfeeder presents all your social updates — not just ADN, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and Dribble — in one place. Instead of providing a scrollable feed, Screenfeeder displays posts one at a time like screensavers. Behind each post is an enlarged photo from another social account. The app supports Airplay, and the idea is to display your content on a second screen. Everything looks great on a television.
People who like digital picture frames are going to find a lot to like here, and it’s roughly the same concept. But it’s not designed to be the sort of activity where you sit and stare at your television for hours watching Instagram pictures float behind ADN posts all day. This is a Second Screen experience more than anything else, one that sits in the background and “helps” with ADD.
Developer: nxtbgthng GmbH
Goldfinch, like Screenfeeder, unites multiple social networks under one ceiling. Facebook, Twitter and ADN are presented together in a unified stream. If you want to narrow yourself to what’s popular, there’s an option to view Trending Today or Best of Yesterday. You can read any web content within the app, and if you find the text is too small, you can tap a button to enter a text view for easy reading. And if you want to share anything you read, you can share it directly to any social network. You can also share things for later, but only within the app and not to other Read It Later services.
Goldfinch is universal and presents an interesting way to check out your social networks for those of us who simply don’t have enough time in a day anymore.
Developer: Sliding Autonomy, LLC
The Future of ADN
App.net’s future will be determined by its apps. As it stands, it’s pretty clear that App.net is in its infancy. I won’t claim to know where the social service is going, but its clear some of these apps are better than others. But there’s choices, and some of them are tough choices. Don’t ask me whether Zephyr or Netbot are better ADN clients because I really couldn’t tell you — and that’s a good thing. It means that, at a certain level, these apps are strong enough that it doesn’t matter. Your personal choice and taste, just like the choice to spend time on App.net over a different social network, is really the important flavour of the day in this debate. And that means the service is headed in the right direction.