"Alpha," the base social feed powered by App.net, has even more apps to plug into it. +Dalton Caldwell continues to improve and expand the API that aims to ultimately serve as the "nervous system" of a wide range of services. But it's the user community — and by that I mean non-developer user community — that remains a weakness.
On the app front, I actually had to delete a couple of web apps from my App.Net folder on my iPhone to fit all the native ones I use, and I don't have access to most of the native apps still in development.
Buffer was the first app to support posting to App.net, but of course it's a posting-only app, allowing instant or delayed posts to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well.
IFTTT added App.Net to its ingredient list, allowing users to set up republishing from various services in any direction. Alas, this has led to many users just dumping their Twitter feed into App.Net, a practice that I think led to the premature demise of other upstart networks.
Rhino was the first full App.net client to turn up in the App Store, but it was clearly rushed (while most devs spent weeks in beta), and it shows. Simply figuring out how to reply a post was a challenge, and people who download it are still asking how to reply today. (Hint: slide left.) Then again, it's free.
Appeio is also free, and is basically an iOS wrapper around the responsive design web app. This slows things down, but has the advantage of working well on different screen sizes. It's also easier to update — I made a comment to the developer about how to present cover images, and he changed it in the app in two minutes.
Adian was the first paid App.net client, and boy, is it paid. Priced at $4.99, many balked. More than a few users still bought the app on principle, as a show of support to the developer community as a whole. On the other hand, it has a much cleaner design, is intuitive to use, and essentially "feels right." It was the first app that I think could sit next to your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn apps as a native window into a social network.
Spoonbill is the latest addition to the family, priced at $3.99. And it's the app that I think is the most interesting. It has a sharp design, runs smoothly, and does everything a status feed app should do. But it shows off a few more things that demonstrate how App.net can be more than Twitter.
Sure, it has username and hashtag autocomplete, image posting, and the like. But it also has a unique "conversation" view that allows you to see a thread both as a single stream as well as a series of branching threads (which are really how conversations unfold). It uses gestures to get to different functions in different ways. And it has several user preferences that make it easy to customize your App.Net experience (and I expect to see more, the ability to mute users of other specific clients especially).
I've attached a bunch of Spoonbill screenshots here, for the curious. If you're on App.net, I'd recommend it. Still, the app ecosystem is evolving quickly. I'm beta testing Alpha, AppApp, Pika, PostStream, Xtendr, and Yawp. And yes, these are just the iOS apps, not counting the Android and mobile web apps that are out or in the pipeline.
And App.Net's API is evolving, too. It seems Dalton and friends are pushing all the most frequently requested enhancements, from favorites ('stars') to native reposts. As excited as I was about 'annotations', it's clear most people are currently focused on the things that Twitter has that Alpha doesn't. Which I guess makes sense.
App.Net offers a great platform. Great technology with infinite possibilities. App.Net has a great community of developers ready to build upon the platform, doing interesting things and interacting on the platform. But as a non-developer, everyday geek enthusiast, I do feel a little lonely. And I think that a population of non-developer everyday users is the main thing App.Net lacks.
Dalton has built a huge, gleaming and growing village filled with quirky shops, parks, and interconnected paths. Everyone within is happy and optimistic (apart from the IFTTT blind cross-posters). But it's a gated community, with a $50 entry pass, and even though that's $4.16 a month, that's steep in a world full of open roads and towns. Sure, some of those other neighborhoods are crappy, or passing ordinances to make life a little less enjoyable, but people are free to move anywhere else. Getting into App.Net is a hurdle most people aren't willing to leap over.
I love the community that's there already, of course. Almost entirely smart people, almost no idiots. And new people join every day. I can still watch the global stream and greet people after their first post. But I admit, it certainly doesn't feel like it's growing as fast as it was two weeks ago. And the global stream isn't a racing torrent just yet.
I'm not sure what the answer is. Dalton is dead-set against advertising. How else can his service make money besides charging users?
Would a lower price help? +Marco Arment proposed $10 a year early on, which felt right to many people, including me. But of course that's an 80 percent cut in revenues, and a likely huge increase in users.
I thought perhaps app developers could pay App.Net for its users, and charge its users a markup for the app (a $5 app pays App.Net $2 a user)… but that's obviously even less money than a lower user enrollment price.
As quickly as the App.Net platform is advancing, and the app economy is growing, I hope we see some significant work on the business model — even just temporary trials of different schemes. Because right now, App.Net basically lacks the one thing the incumbent networks have in abundance: regular people.
First Month on app.net – Charts and Stats
Directory of third party devs and apps
My previous App.Net post: I'm Backing App.Net
#AppDotNet #AppNet #Spoonbill
In album Spoonbill (19 photos)
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