App.net is a new social network that’s initial approach as a real-time platform offers a similar experience to Twitter. After the blue bird’s latest announcements regarding 3rd party apps, App.net has turned out to be the new favorite spot for people who appreciate the development of applications and Kiwi is the new kid on the block.
If you’ve got that dejà vu feeling, you must know that Kiwi is also the previous product from the same developers. After Twitter slammed the door on third-party developers, the creators of Kiwi simply packed their things and moved along. Kiwi for Twitter has been unsupported since then and its developers joined a new adventure.
Minimal and Objective
Time has made good Kiwi’s original aspirations, as a Twitter client it had the reputation for being a minimal application, characteristic that became clearer with their release for App.net. It gives you quick access to the general features of App.net, as your home timeline, profile, mentions, starred posts, global feed and direct messaging.
Kiwi displays everything in a single column and permits you to refine your home timeline giving you the social experience you need. If you rely on Twitter, it makes it easy to crosspost between the platforms. But these preferences are there to tweak your experience, Kiwi is ready to use as you allow it to access your App.net account.
All kinds of shortcuts
Kiwi is fully featured with gestures and shortcuts to make navigation a breeze. You can configure two and three finger swipes to switch tabs and check the details of conversations. If you get there, you’ll find the whole list of shortcuts, which not only support basic functions, but also opening links in browsers or posts in Alpha (the default App.net web client).
If you’re checking anything else and an idea you would like to post on App.net comes up, you can just hit a customizable shortcut to write a new post or even show up the client. If the keyboard is not much of your taste, you can reach out the same features through the beautiful green icon on your menu bar.
This is the dividing point for Kiwi. Even though it is a really simple application, without any fat on its features, there is good and bad in its way to navigate among your tabs and it is your choice to get used to it.
If you’re checking a conversation (posts or direct messages), you’ll get into focus. This means that you won’t have any visual reference or access to the default timelines via shortcuts (you can still use the status bar icon). The backfire is that you won’t be able to see the highlights for your notifications. The status bar icon still highlights; however, you can’t configure its behavior to do it only for mentions or direct messages, it is all or nothing.
On the other hand, this is not essentially an issue since it comes to bring an alternative to a commonly seen behavior. Let’s picture a situation: you’re checking your home timeline and you check a random conversation, then you receive a notification and check your mentions, when you go back to the previous tab you still have the conversation opened instead of the timeline itself. What Kiwi does is focus your attention into a single subject, cleaning up all the breadcrumb trail.
Also remember that if you receive a mention, Kiwi is integrated with Notification Center and by clicking on the banner you’ll be led to the details of the post and the corresponding conversation. The detailed view for conversations is interesting on its own, since it not only indicates how many posts came after the one you’re checking, it also shows what the user from the selected post was writing previously to the conversation.
Enough for the Power User?
Kiwi is a minimal application which covers features necessary for most of the social networking on App.net, and it is probably the best client for OSX so far as it brings to the table image previewing and direct messages in a polished interface. However, the user who keeps track of multiple conversations and streams almost simultaneously may not be fully pleased by the way it moves through your tabs, even with all sort of keyboard shortcuts and gestures.
If you’re aware of the iOS clients for App.net, you may already know that the competition in that scenario is rough and clients have more features available than their desktop competition. Certain features to be missed are certainly the integration with read-later services (Instapaper, Pocket, etc), the possibility to star hashtags and conversations and integration with the File API (recently App.net gave its paid users 10gb of storage, which many apps use to store images).
Of course, the last implications are made in comparison to apps that don’t dispute space with Kiwi, as its simplicity hides features which were still missing for OSX clients and if there’s a single App.net client to watch for in the upcoming updates, the one to pick should certainly be Kiwi.
App.net has recently introduced a free tier based on invitations, where an user may join the platform with a few restrictions. The release of Kiwi couldn’t come at a better moment since it is the best application for OSX by now to grab a feeling on the social network experience this service offers.
A few bold calls were made to keep the application as sharp as possible, such that may require some adaptation. However, Kiwi has a lot to offer with its focused conversations, unified timelines and friendly support for keyboard shortcuts and gestures. All wrapped up on a clean design that will never get in your way.