Netbot: The iPhone’s Hit Twitter Client for App.net

App.net is the social network that made significant news earlier in the year. Launching with a price to users of $50/year, critics of App.net highlighted how price would like driver user adoption down, especially with many comparisons being drawn with Twitter.

Tapbots, in the world of iPhone apps, is probably best known for Tweebot, an immensly popular iPhone client for Twitter. Netbot is the Tapbot-developed counterpart to Tweebot, and quite possibly the best third-party client for App.net. Let’s take a look.

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What is App.net?

Before getting friendly with the client itself, it’s important to understand just what App.net, the social networking service, actually is. Launched this summer, App.net is another contender for your social networking time.

Likened, en masse, to Twitter, App.net allows users to post status updates of up to 256 characters, sharing them with their group of followers. Sound familiar? The likeness to Twitter is uncanny but there are two very notable differences that must be addressed.

"Join the movement." But what movement?

“Join the movement.” But what movement?

App.net is very focused on developers, almost relying on third-parties to develop apps using the App.net service as more of an infrastructure rather than an end-user service. Second, App.net is not free. Membership costs you money, and this led to App.net becoming infamous for it’s $50 entry fee (with jokes of the service being essentially a declaration of the user having $50 being rampant). Today it can cost you as low as $5/month (or $36 a year), but that remains very high in comparison to the non-existent fees that Facebook and Twitter employ for the regular user.

Enter Netbot

Tapbots are perhaps best known for developing Tweetbot, a highly popular Twitter client for iOS and OS X. Fairly soon after the launch of the actual service, the developer introduced Netbot, a App.net client that — like the service does itself — bears a similar likeness to it’s Twitter equivalent.

If you’re already a user of Tweetbot, you’ll feel right at home in Netbot. Once signed in using your App.net user credentials, you’ll be thrown into your stream of content that consists of the combined content of all those you follow.

App.net is to Twitter as Netbot is to Tweetbot.

App.net is to Twitter as Netbot is to Tweetbot.

Much like you’ve come to expect with Twitter apps, there’s a number of tabs across the bottom that address different views of the service. The first is the aforementioned central stream. Second is your mentions, which lists all the content specifically directed at you by another App.net user. A third is your individual profile, the fourth deals with content that you’ve favourited, while the final one handles everything search-related.

As You’d Expect

Really, there’s nothing fantastic or amazing to Netbot. There’s nothing that screams for you to use Netbot and App.net for your go-to social network. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. In fact, Netbot is the one glimmer of hope that suggests one could actually use App.net if it had the user adoption it needed to succeed.

Netbot feels just like a Twitter app. You browse your stream, pulling down to refresh in order to poll for new content, and can swipe or tap on a specific post to view more information or perform a number of actions like replying, reposting, favouriting or traditional sharing/read later options.

All by myself …

All by myself …

There’s really not much else to say about Netbot without creating boredom by going over the idiosyncrasies that are covered by Twitter and any third-party client for that.

Design and Performance

Performance-wise, Netbot is snappy and runs through the various features of App.net with ease and the notable sleekness that comes as part of the Tapbots package.

Netbot looks and feels like a Twitter client, which is probably a good thing.

Netbot looks and feels like a Twitter client, which is probably a good thing.

Netbot retains the easy-to-identify design scheme of other Tweebot apps, opting for a grayscale set of colours with an accent of blue. I’ve never been a massive fan of this style myself, but that’s most certainly subjective and, regardless, doesn’t lead it away from being the clear best choice if you’re into App.net.

But Really, Why Bother?

The application is nice. It runs snappily and does everything you’d want it to. However, with App.net never having achieved it’s critical mass of adoptees, a reason to start using the service remains to be seen. App.net still feels like a Twitter clone, except one that no one uses. The combination of service and app just feels like a new kid that’s copied the popular guy’s style but has none of the friends.

Netbot isn’t free, either. While it’s a one-off payment of $4.99 ($9.98 if y0u want to pick up the iPad version, too), it’s yet another cost for a social network that really isn’t worth your time if it were free.

Tapbots have done a great job on Netbot and, as an app, it deserves a higher rating, a fact that will be seen when we make our final score. However, it really isn’t worth your time until App.net gets better.


Summary

An App.net client from the developers of Tweetbot.

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