Friends by Taptivate icon

Friends ($1.99) by Taptivate is a social network manager for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Taptivate has been working on Friends for the past year, and now it’s finally out. No, this is not a Twitter app. Nor is it a Facebook app. No, it’s something completely different than a dedicated Twitter or Facebook or Contact app – this is a social networking manager. It combines your friends from everywhere into one convenient little app.

So, they spent a year working on this. Does it deliver? Let’s find out.

On the initial launch, the app will automatically begin syncing your address book contacts. You can also begin logging into your social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and even Instapaper (no Read It Later support currently). Then there is the option to post attachments and lookup calls that can be toggled if you desire.

Going back to the main screen, the top half will be dedicated to your contacts, while the bottom will be for viewing posts and messages and everything else.

The Contact section is divided up into four parts: Contacts, Groups, Favorites, and Calls. The Contacts will bring up all of your address book contacts. Groups will show you All Contacts, or your address book, or just your social network contacts. If you view any social network group, it will pull up their real name (according to their profiles) and accompanying photo.

Friends by Taptivate screenshot

When you select a contact, you can have the option of adding them to your Favorites for quick access. The Calls section gives you full access to a gorgeous looking keypad that allows you to make dial in a number to call. Friends will even keep track of your recently placed calls.

Though when making a call, it will take you to the Phone app right after, and then leave you there even after the call. So you’ll have to manually go back to the Friends app. Not a problem, but just a warning to not expect to automatically be taken back to the app after a call.

Whenever you view a contact, you’ll see all of their contact information that you have stored on your phone. Additionally, Friends will also take their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn feeds and put it together with their contact information. Now you’ll have everything about your friend together in one place – no more switching between various apps to find out how they are or where they were. Friends gathers this all in one convenient place – bundled together with their contact information.

The other section of the app is the posts, which I personally found to be a little lackluster. Here you can see all the messages that have been tweeted or sent through Facebook as a status update or link or anything of the like. Any links will be shown by a dark gray section underneath a post with an arrow to signify a webpage. Photos and video will be attached to a post as a thumbnail if you have the option toggled (Post attachments).

I found this to be a bit lackluster because there are no timestamps on any of the messages unless you select them individually. Personally, I’d rather see the timestamp of everything at a glance rather than have to select an individual one. But if you do select a post and it has a link, the actual web page will be loaded up underneath the tweet or Facebook status, which is a nice touch.

Friends by Taptivate screenshot

Another issue I had with this section is that the scrolling seemed choppy – since I have about 1,000+ friends on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn combined, I guess that would have something to do with it. But I thought since the app is supposed to be a social networking manager, it shouldn’t have a problem. Hopefully the choppy scrolling can be fixed in an update.

Posts with comments or replies will be marked with a blue bubble in the corner. Tapping on this will reveal the comments beneath the post.

If the standard Posts section is too much for you, good news – you can view your individual Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and LinkedIn separately. These will be found in the Lists section. Additionally, you can view your @ mentions directly from the app, though there is no section for DMs, strangely enough. The Photos and Videos filters will both pull that specific media through all of your feeds.

Now what about composing your own posts from Friends? It’s got you covered with a nice composing interface. The compose window looks like a lined piece of paper and there are options to attach a photo or shorten links as well. Photos will be uploaded via Postman, unfortunately, so don’t expect your favorite image uploading service here yet. Hopefully the developers can address this issue in the future with an update. There is a counter on the bottom corner that will show you how many characters your message is, and you can also send this update out to all your social networking sites at once or you can select which ones to send it to, which is great.

Overall, this app is good. Taptivate has worked on it for a year, so that’s what we should expect. My only gripe is with the Posts section, where the scrolling is almost Android-like and a bit slow. Hopefully Taptivate can improve this section of the app, and continue to maintain the app overall.

Oh, and what’s with the missing DM’s? I would have thought that would be something necessary in a social networking manager app.

For $2, this app is a must-get if you just want a one-stop shop for your growing contacting book. Not perfect, but still pretty good and worthy of a spot on your home screen.