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App.net’s First Two iOS Clients: Rhino and Adian

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Speaking of App.net, the developer community has been busy building iOS, Mac, and web clients for the service, which promises it’ll never try to purposefully harm or limit the third-party ecosystem. Of all the iOS and Mac clients currently in development (I’m testing a bunch of them, and good things are coming soon), two are currently available on the App Store: Rhino and Adian.

As John Gruber wrote in 2009, Twitter clients used to be a UI design playground for developers attracted to the service that was just about to become mainstream. The App.net clients available today sit in the middle ground of leveraging the conventions established by Tweetie, Twitterrific, and Tweetbot while working with a service that’s not nearly as popular as the Twitter of 2009, when third-party clients exploded in terms of popularity and usage.

Most of the App.net clients currently in development look and perform exactly like Twitter clients, but they are working with a jasminlive platform with a much smaller scale, even by 2009 Twitter standards. This is perhaps indicative of the current status of App.net – a service that uses the foundation of Twitter while quickly adding its own unique features – and is undoubtedly helping with creating these clients (a smaller community means easier scaling and lots of feedback), but it also leaves a strange feeling of “seen that, done that”.

App.net clients will have to find their own identity just like App.net will have to grow into a different yet solid alternative to Twitter. Developers need time to figure this out.

What we have today is two clients that, for the most part, work like Twitter clients. Rhino features a clean interface design to switch between your main timeline, mentions, the global stream (which, thanks to the small community, is still usable), and your profile. The tabbed interface is reminiscent of just about every Twitter app for iPhone. There’s pull to refresh, a compose screen jasmine live accessible with a button in the upper right corner, clickable usernames, hashtags, and links. If you ever used a modern Twitter client, you’ll know how to use this. The language is the same.

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