Every social network provides some way to like, favorite or share content. We have favorite YouTube videos, tweets and Instapaper articles, but each carefully curated list is confined to the website of its creation. If only there was a way to pull favorites together into one central hub.
Favs attempts to pull all of your favorites, likes, shares and bookmarks from the cracks and crevices of social networking and bookmarking sites into one unified app. It wants to do more than simply aggregate favorite items, it wants to bring favorite people along for the ride as well.
Does Favs live up to its promises? Is this the end-all app for favorites or another Swiss-Army failure?
Social Reader Meets Memory Box
Favs provides access to favorites, likes and bookmarks for 17 of the most popular social networking and bookmarking services. Tap the plus button and Favs displays the complete list of compatible services. If Twitter information is stored in iOS, Favs will automatically pull Twitter account info, and users simply have to tap on a username to add it to the list of accounts. Account information (excluding passwords and tokens) are synced via iCloud, so users can sync information between the iOS and Mac version of Favs.
Private services require a login, but public services such as Flickr and Twitter only require a username. Favs accepts multiple accounts for each service, so users can also follow the favorites of their favorite people. This transforms Favs from a simple favorites curator to a social reader and entices users to open the app on a regular basis.
Favs presents entries like articles in an RSS reader, giving each favorite entry a read/unread status and displaying an unread number next to each account. This is useful for following favorite people, but can turn personal favorites into a task list. It’s tedious to go through each account and mark all entries as read, and it’s safe to say that most users won’t want to review each and every entry since the user has likely viewed the content before. The lack of read/unread gestures means that users have to enter an article to mark it as read, or mark all articles as read. Users can swipe an entry to archive it, but this removes the entry from the list view.
The default settings in Favs make for a tedious reading experience, but tweaking a few hidden options turns the app into the perfect container for both user-selected and followed favorites. Enter the desired account list and tap the account name in the menu bar. This presents an option to mark new entries as unread. Simply disable this setting to turn the list into a simple favorites container. Since this option can be changed for each account, users can keep it enabled for people that they wish to follow. This settings makes it easy to see when a person of interest favorites something new without cluttering the inbox with personal additions.
Favs pulls favorites together into three main views: All, Inbox and Archive. All displays every read and unread item, Inbox only shows unread items, and Archive contains all of the items that have been archived. This makes it easy to check favorites quickly, but users can also access each account individually from the main view.
Tap on a favorite entry to bring up the article view. Favs loads the entry summary or corresponding tweet followed by the content on the original website. The experience suffers when attempting to access non-article items such as Facebook likes, and the app clumsily switches between the desktop or mobile version of the site, depending on the content. This is a small disappointment, but overall the article view is well designed and stands out in the way that it chooses to display the original site or linked content. For instance, Favs will display the linked content contained in a tweet rather than the Twitter mobile timeline.
Every social network comes with its own skin; a style that sets it apart from the competition. Favs strips away this style to bring each of the services in line with its social reader design. The app standardizes user icons and adds a network icon along with a post time next to each entry. This lets users know how much time has passed since the post and which network it came from. Favs also adds little touches, such as custom loading and pull-to-refresh animations, which contribute to the polished feel of the app.
At first, Favs seemed gratuitous, but its accomplishments are much larger than I originally thought. The app supports enough of the key networks to serve as a viable hub, but its social reading feature is an excellent way to pull in new content and follow favorite people. Favs’ handling of settings and the various networks makes the app a powerfully complete solution.
Favs is only for consumption, but its versatility makes favoriting more useful. Users can favorite YouTube videos or like articles in Instapaper, and for the first time their favorites aren’t relegated to the dark corners of separate websites or apps. I can truly see myself favoriting more tweets and liking more posts, because Favs provides the first viable platform for reviewing these favorites later. The app isn’t perfect, and it suffers from occasional Facebook syncing issues, but Favs breaks new ground and does so with style and efficiency.