When Twitter announced their new 1.1 API, an uproar swept the Twitterverse (mostly among the nerds and geeks). The new API would affect many popular third party applications work, including our beloved Tweetbot, who already had to make changes how their public alpha and beta versions for the Mac worked. With these changes to the API, many retreated to the fledgling new service from Dalton Caldwell named App.net, now with over 17,500 users (last time I checked).
For those who are unaware of what ADN is, it is a new social network where the users are not the product being sold, unlike the likes of Facebook, and now, Twitter. It is like Twitter, except you can have up to 256 characters in a post rather than 140. It is not a free service, and will cost $50 a year for regular users, or you can pay $100 for a developer account with full access to their API (API key generating, documentation, analytics dashbaord, and more).
Since the users are paying to use the service (the money goes to maintaining the service sustainable, such as servers), there are no ads, and best of all, no spam! The community is also somewhat tightly knit, similar to how Twitter was back in the golden days (2006–2008). I only joined ADN about three weeks ago, but during my time there, I have noticed a lot of progress from developers about creating third party ADN clients for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.
And now we finally have the first native app in the App Store with Rhino.
Once you authorize your account with Rhino, you will be on the Global timeline. There are four different tabs for you to access from the bottom menubar: Timeline, Mentions, Global, and Profile.
Timeline will be where all the posts from users you follow will show up. Mentions will show you any replies that you have gotten, or any posts that you get dragged into. One of my favorite things about ADN is Global, which shows all posts made by users — it may be a bit weird at first, but I have found that it’s a great way to meet other ADN users as well as jump into some interesting discussions. With the Profile view, you are able to see your (or someone else’s) avatar and cover image, along with how many posts they have made, and the number of following/followers.
Rhino makes it easy to see which posts are part of a conversation by sticking a yellow corner on a post, similar to how Tweetbot indicates favorites. Tapping on one of these conversation posts will reveal the entire thread, though you cannot reply from the thread view — you will have to exit the conversation and swipe left-to-right on the post to reveal a reply button, or tap on an avatar to reveal the user’s profile. I have to question the clunky design choices that were made here.
Composing a new post for ADN is done by pressing the “new post” button when it’s visible in the upper right corner. For some reason, it is only visible on the Timeline and Global views. I would rather see it visible at all times to make things easier. At the moment, you can only post text — there is no way to attach a photo or other media to your post.
Even though Rhino has a very clean and polished looking UI, it’s obvious that they just wanted to rush the app to the App Store just to be first. I’m in several betas for other clients, and they have been continually refining the experience and adding features based on user request. With Rhino, there is no way to repost either, not even with a copy text feature! Nor can you search for keywords or a specific user, or even have drafts of posts. I’m also missing a live stream, or at least an automatic refresh of a view every minute or so — yes, that’s right, you’ll have to manually refresh.
If the goal was to be the first ADN client in the App Store, Goran Vuksic has succeeded, but that comes with a cost. Rhino still has a long way to go before it can replace the beta software that I’ve been using on my iPhone, but I guess it’s a start for ADN users who haven’t gotten into a beta.
For now, I’ll just stick with my other apps when I need ADN on my iPhone.