Flint for iOS ($4.99) by Giant Comet is the iOS version of the much-acclaimed Mac Campfire client. If you chat with your team through 37signals‘ Campfire service, then you will definitely need Flint on your iPhone and iPad.
Here at AppAdvice, we have writers from all over the world. While we’re actually based in Southern California, not everyone on our team has the luxury of living here, so we communicate through the good old Internet. We handle our tasks with Basecamp, but for chatting about Apple and whatever other goofy topics of the day, we have Campfire. Personally, I use nothing but Flint on my MacBook Pro, and I haven’t been able to find a great Campfire app on iOS, that is, until now.
On the Mac, I like Flint because it feels like a natural app that just comes with your computer. It’s also very clean, just presenting the bare minimum that you need, and nothing more. On iOS, Flint is very simple, yet elegant, and fits in perfectly into iOS 7. You get a bright white background, with flat, orange text and icon buttons for navigation. The app doesn’t have much to it besides the list of rooms and the chat, which is basically all you need.
With the first launch of Flint, you’ll be asked to log in with your Campfire account. Once it’s authenticated, you will find yourself in the Lobby. This will be a list of all of the rooms that are available on your account. If you have multiple Campfire accounts, you can tap on the cog icon to access the settings, where you can add as many accounts as necessary. This is also where you would go to toggle things like enter/leave messages, inline images, notifications for keywords, and whether or not you want push notifications sent to your device.
Back to the Lobby, you can tap on any room to enter it. A unique feature of Flint for iOS is the fact that you can tap-and-hold on a room name to get a “peek” into it. What exactly is peeking into the room? It allows you to actually view the room without actually entering it (others won’t know you have taken a look at the room through the enter/leave messages). This is incredibly useful for catching up on chat transcripts, so you can always be in on the loop of what has happened. I wish that the Mac version had this feature as well, but hopefully it’s coming in the future through an update.
When you are actually in a chat room, you get a very iMessage-esque screen, where user avatars are aligned on the left, with chat bubbles for messages. There are timestamps on each message, so you know exactly when the conversation was going on. If you tap on the “people” button in the top right corner, you get a side panel with a list of everyone who is currently actively in the room (peekers do not show up). If you need to get the attention of someone quickly, just double tap on their name to automatically insert it into your message field. This is quick and convenient, rather than having to type out the person’s name manually (it’s easier if you have nicknames for each other, though).
As far as images are concerned, Flint for iOS allows you to insert your own images by either importing from your existing Photo Library, or you can even snap a new photo (presumably of your cat) to share with coworkers. Images that are sent in Campfire will be directly inline, so there’s no need to view any links. Of course, if you do share links with each other, Flint does have its own in-app browser, making web browsing easy.
The coolest thing about Flint is the fact that you can be an active participant in as many rooms as you need to be. When you are in a room, either as a participant or peeking, these rooms will have blue text to indicate that fact. A tap-and-hold on these will bring up a menu with the options of closing or leaving the room.
I’ve been checking out Flint for iOS since it came out yesterday, and it makes accessing Campfire from your iPhone or iPad a breeze. Now I’ll never miss out on anything in work chat just because I’m away from my computer.
You can find Flint for iOS in the App Store as a universal download for $4.99 for a limited time. The price will become $9.99 once this introductory period is over. Flint for Mac is also available in the Mac App Store for $14.99.