A "Review" of Felix for App.net

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I'm not an App.net (ADN) user. I've definitely considered becoming one, considering Twitter's behavior lately, but I'm still having trouble justifying the $50.

With that said, I've been hearing a lot about a new iOS client for ADN called Felix that just released today, and I thought this would be a good excuse to analyze some of the app's design from the perspective of someone who has no idea what using ADN is like.

Let's take it screenshot-by-screenshot.

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This is what I assume is the main screen in Felix, basically equivalent to a Twitter timeline. Initial reactions:

  • The font choices are okay I guess, nothing special. Not sure I care for the cream-colored background. The actual ADN website has a textured gray background and white posts. If I were making a mobile client of that site, I'd probably stick with their color choices to make it seem more integrated.
  • Something about having drop shadows under every avatar irks me a little.
  • I can guess that the first two icons on the toolbar at the bottom are equivalent to 'Timeline' and 'Mentions' but I have no idea what the other three are for. The middle icon is highlighted blue in every screenshot, no matter what part of the app you're in, so perhaps it's a 'Compose' button. The globe icon might be a mobilized form of the public global feed, which is fine I guess but they could've used a better icon. The last icon looks like a speedometer which makes no sense to me.
  • Each post has several actions that can be performed. The arrow button is probably a 'reply to this post' feature, but what is the speech bubble for? Maybe that's really the reply button and the arrow button is used for sharing a given post? The recycle icon is likely a 'retweet' equivalent, and the star icon is obviously an 'add to favorites' function.
  • Seems weird and cluttered, having all of those icons inside every single post. Would be better to go the Tweetie route by swiping a post left or right and seeing the actions behind it, or the Tweetbot method of tapping a post and having a tray of options slide out below it.
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I guess this is where the speedometer icon takes you. It's obviously a details screen for a specific post in this screenshot, but what happens if you're looking at your timeline and tap that icon? What does it do then? On its own this is a confusing icon choice.

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The 'compose' screen. The auto-complete hashtag bar in the middle is reminiscent of Tweetbot to me. The top toolbar is a bit weird.

  • The 'x' button is probably meant to cancel the post, but I can't tell what the drawer icon next to it is for.  Perhaps an upload button of some kind, but what would anybody be uploading aside from photos, which the camera button is clearly for?
  • The paper airplane is probably the 'publish' button but it's an odd choice over just having a button that says 'Post' or something. Maybe I'm weird, but it just looks like a "Send to Sparrow.app" button to me.
  • The character count should probably be moved down to the middle bar (on the right-hand side of course, so as not to interfere with the hashtag auto-complete).
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Don't have much to say about this one. The star button at the top right is interesting, can you favorite entire conversations on ADN? The colors of the posts (the blue being your own posts and the green being people you follow?) are similar enough that they're hard to differentiate, to my eyes.

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Ohhhhhh, I get it. The speedometer icon means 'dashboard'. Clever. I notice that there's an option to see your starred conversations, so I guess I was correct about that last screenshot. I would say that on this screen, it's okay to have a drop shadow under your avatar since it's meant to stand out. Still doesn't make sense on the timeline, though.

Overall, this seems like a nice app, but there are some weird UI conventions going on. Obviously, this is v1.0 so it should only improve from here, and maybe if the developer reads this post they can understand what a new user might think when they first look at the app.

Either way, it's a fun thought exercise. I recommend that other app developers do this for apps they know nothing about too, so they can put themselves in the shoes of their own first-time users.

If you're on App.net and would like to try Felix out for yourself, it's $5 on the App Store and works with both iPhone and iPad.