Finally: A Native Digg iPhone App

The news-driven social network Digg was, in my memory, quite an early adopter of mobile technology. Their mobile site, m.digg.com, has now been around for a couple of years. However, Digg has stayed out of the full-fledged dedicated app game for some reason, leaving Digg fans searching the App Store with only a handful of third party apps ranging from adequate to average at best.

Finally, the guys at Digg have taken the hint and released their first dedicated iPhone app. It’s free to download and super easy to use. Let’s take a closer look.

WebApp Vs. Native App

Below you can see that the two interfaces are very similar. They’ve polished things up a bit for the iPhone, adding some gradients and gloss to make it more Apple-esque.

Interface Comparison

Digg Web App Interface VS. iPhone App Interface

The interfaces are similar enough that you may be wondering why you should upgrade to the iPhone app as opposed to just sticking the mobile site on your homepage. The answer is that the entire experience is greatly improved in the dedicated app. Everything feels smoother, faster, and more integrated. To see what I mean, check out the features outlined below.

The Basic Experience

The three screenshots below take you through the typical experience of using the Digg iPhone app.

Overview

Quick Overview of the Digg iPhone Experience

When you first open the app you’re taken to the category section. After drilling down by category you simply tap the article you’re interested in and are taken to the page via the app’s built-in browser. If you’re in a hurry, that’s the gist of the app: quick, intuitive and simple. However, if you want more, there are several options and features to use along the way.

The Topic View

One of the only complaints I had about the iPhone app was that I wasn’t able to see the subcategories that you find on the full Digg site. For instance, I could see the “Technology” category, but none of its subcategories such as “Apple.” This was merely an initial oversight however as these categories are in fact present, just not immediately apparent.

subcategories

Tap the Blue Arrow to See Subcategories

As you can see in the screenshots above, tapping the little blue icon on the right side of the screen will take you to the menu of subcategories (tapping anywhere else will take you to the articles in the within the primary category).

The Article List View

When viewing the list of articles, there are several features you can choose to implement or ignore. As mentioned above, tapping an article title will take you to the full article via the built-in browser. However, tapping the icon to the right of the article will show you an expanded view of the list item where you can see a summary of the article, give it a thumbs up or down, save it for later and check out the related comments.

expanded view

Expanded Article View

Two other features built-in to this screen are searching and saving. By tapping the magnifying glass at the top right of the screen you can open the search panel. This works just like the search feature on the full site and allows you to sort the results by best, recent and diggs.

Saving an article for later can be accomplished by tapping the little folder icon with a plus on it (you’ll see it in a number of places including in the browser view and within an expanded list item.)

Clicking the folder icon in the article list view will take you to a screen where you can browse, search, read and manage your saved articles. The ability to quickly browse the article list and save anything interesting for later really adds a lot to the app and is one of my favorite features.

searching & saving

Searching and Saving

The Browser View

Within the browser view we see even more helpful features. At the bottom of the screen you can see how many diggs the article has as well as buttons to digg or bury it yourself. Again we see the folder icon giving us the ability to save the article for later.

Notice that I’ve already saved this article, so the folder gets a minus sign and the ability to delete the article from my saved list.

Tapping on the speech bubble in the top right of the screen will take you to a tabbed view where you can see associated user comments and related stories. Finally, tapping the share button in the bottom right of the browser view will bring up a number of sharing options including Facebook, Twitter, Email, and simply copying the url to the clipboard.

Overview

Browser Feature Overview

Closing Thoughts

To sum up, the Digg app is a great and welcome step up from the web app. It’s extremely easy to pick up and use with no instructions and really nails important features like social media sharing and the ability to save articles.

My single complaint is in the area of stability. The app froze, crashed and threw Cocoa errors at me quite a few times during the review process including one instance where a full device restart was necessary to recover.

Without this not so minor annoyance, the app would be near perfect in my book. Let’s hope Digg releases a stability update soon!


Summary

This native iPhone app brings the Digg experience to the palm of your hand. Search, browse, and view articles, with the option of saving them to read later. The only let down is slightly questionable stability.

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