App.net is an up and coming social network and microblogging service that’s proving to be a worthy competitor to Twitter, with features such as being completely ad-free and an increased character count (256 characters compared to Twitter’s 140). Instead of generating revenue via ads, App.net users pay a small subscription charge to use the service. App.net user numbers have increased dramatically over the last few weeks ever since it launched a free tier service, allowing these paid subscribers to send out invitations for others to join the service with limited accounts, free of charge. Essentially, App.net became a freemium service.
Although the network is still fairly new, there has been active development of App.net clients for the Mac and in this roundup we look at five of the best apps currently available. And if you’re not on App.net yet, keep reading for a shot at some free App.net accounts we have to giveaway!
Appetizer describes itself as a concise App.net client and it really shows, with the app having very little to distract you from your stream. If you’ve used Twitter clients before then this app will feel right at home with features such as reposting (App.net’s version of retweeting) as well as being able to reply and star posts. You can also search within your current view (such as your stream and replies) and it’s amazingly quick.
It supports uploading photos, taking pictures with your FaceTime camera and even snapping screenshots within the compose window, as well as a quick shortcut to Emoji icons and special symbols to liven up your posts. Add that to Notification Center support in Mountain Lion and it makes it a seriously worthwhile app to consider.
Appetizer doesn’t support multiple accounts so if you do have more than one App.net account then you’ll need to log out and log in every time you want to switch between them. It also seems to be a little too minimal, and it can take a few moments to find out how to access each feature. You also can’t edit your profile within the app, meaning you’ll need to visit App.net to do so.
Requires: OS X 10.7+
One of the most popular (and recent) App.net clients is Kiwi, which we reviewed recently. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it originally started out life as a Twitter client with features such as theme support. Rewritten from the ground up to focus on App.net, Kiwi is the first paid-for App.net client. It has a clean layout and includes features such as draft posts, photo uploads and cross-posting to Twitter with a clever App.net and Twitter character count to avoid truncated posts. It even supports private messages, something most App.net apps for the Mac don’t support yet.
Kiwi also supports a range of keyboard shortcuts and trackpad gestures as well as being able to display an icon on the menu bar.
Kiwi doesn’t support multiple accounts and has no search functionality (but does support username autocomplete) and ability to edit your profile. It is, however, in active development with several updates already released in as many weeks. Being a paid-for app means the developer is able to continue supporting the app and providing many more great features.
Price: $10 / Shareware
Requires: OS X 10.8+
Wedge is another lightweight App.net client that focuses on just letting you view and post to your stream. As well as being able to view your stream and post to App.net, Wedge can also cross-post to Twitter and Facebook (provided these accounts are set up in OS X) which means if you like to keep the same status updates across your social networks, you can do so easily without having to visit Twitter and Facebook.
Wedge also supports keyboard shortcuts and trackpad gestures with the option to display a menu bar icon.
Wedge features a built-in search to find users and hashtags as well as a separate “Interactions” pane to keep track of reposts and your most recent followers. The app also supports Notification Center for new posts and replies. You are also able to edit your profile within the app, saving you from having to visit App.net to do so.
Like Appetizer, Wedge doesn’t support multiple accounts and Wedge’s chunky sidebar may not be to everyone’s taste.
Requires: OS X 10.7+
Unlike the other apps we’ve covered, Mention doesn’t have a separate compose window, instead having it permanently displayed at the bottom of the main (and only) window. For some, this means the app is less cluttered since you’re not needing a separate window to write a post. For others, it may be a minor annoyance since that occupied space means you’ll need to scroll through posts more frequently.
There’s a search field to find users and hashtags though going back to your stream from a search result is a little unintuitive due to the appearance of the back button after searching (it appears just as text in the toolbar and doesn’t look like a button).
Mention features some great font options, including PT Sans, and supports notifications as well. You can also mute users which is a useful feature if you are following someone who might be posting a little too frequently.
Requires: OS X 10.7+
Wait, what? Fluid isn’t an App.net client! Don’t worry, all will be revealed.
The App.net website is actually a great way to interact with the service. Whilst you may not have some of the features the rest of the apps here benefit from such as cross-posting or Notification Center support, you can still take advantage of all the core features such as viewing your stream, adding posts (with photo upload support) and reposting and replying to others.
Fluid is an app that lets you turn any website into a standalone application. We’ve talked about Fluid before on Mac.Appstorm, with fellow author Jacob Penderworth writing “Why I Use Fluid for Twitter Instead of Apps”. We’re adopting the same idea and using App.net instead.
If you purchase Fluid then you’ll also be able to create a special Fluid version of App.net that sits in your menu bar all the time, ready to view and post.
Price: Free / $4.99 to unlock features
Requires: OS X 10.6+
App.net is still very much in its infancy, and this is easily noticed by the sparse amount of apps available. However, whilst the number might be small the apps themselves are very well designed and with Twitter taking the controversial decision to limit what developers can do to the point that it’s no longer feasible to write a new Twitter app, I see this as just the beginning of what will no doubt be a very healthy and rich ecosystem of apps.
If you’re not yet an App.net member, we’ve got 100 invites to give away. Visit our Mac.AppStorm App.net invite page, where you can become a free member!