Why can’t we be friends? A Friends Review

Taptivate recently decided to get into the social network scene with their recent release, “Friends.” Taptivate made a bold claim, to integrate the four corners of the social networking world, and make it easier to keep up with your friends from wherever their data hails. At first I was very interested in this App, but then I realized something very crucial; I don’t have that many friends. Oh well. The App on the other hand is quite useful, though I was a little let down by something, more on this later. The App does as it says, and it allows you to connect your various and different social network accounts into the App. So far the accounts that you can add into Friends are; FaceBook, Myspace (which I guess was recently rebranded into MY[___]), LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instapaper. Signing in is a pretty painless process, and once you’re signed in the fun begins. Let’s look at home screen first.

The first screen you’re going to get after you sign in is something that looks like your settings App on your iPhone. It has a section at the top with menus for you to tap into. The choices are; Contacts, Groups, Favorites, and Calls. I’m still not sure what “calls” are for. I’m a little hesitant to test this feature out. Contacts, will give you all of your phone’s contacts, and if they have a FaceBook or anything like that, it will show up here as well once you tap their name. The contacts page is actually the part of the App that I was hoping was the main GUI for the whole App, but sadly I was wrong. Here in the contacts view though, you have access to all the usual stuff you find on your iPhone (name, number, email, etc.) but what you also have is some tabs on the right hand side. Each tab is that friend’s different accounts. If your friend has a twitter, you get a tab for that, if they have a FaceBook, yep you guessed it, there’s a tab for that. You can also in this view tap the star at the bottom to make them a Favorite, you can post a comment on their wall, or you can email them. I presume you can also call them from here as well, but I don’t know how it works, whether it launches the iPhone’s native phone App, or if it uses some kind of VOIP implementation. You can of course just view all of their collected posts from all over if you tap the purple tab at the top, and don’t wish to go through them individually. Each tab though will give you some basic info, as well as the ability to look through their posts, photos, and if they have any, videos. Groups works just like contacts, but it adds in your friends lists from all of your online accounts as well. It also breaks down your friends lists into their respective groups, just as one would imagine. Favorites, does the same, just has list of said favorites. The calls menu brings up a keypad, much like your default phone App, along with a tab at the top for KeyPad, and Recents.

The next section of menus, beneath the top four that I mentioned, are the following options: Posts, lists, @mentions, photos, and videos. Posts will give you the overview of all of your online accounts, lists lets you break it down by account, and the rest should be pretty self explanatory. Once you’re looking at the posts that people put up you can tap into them and do a host of things including comment, like the post, start a conversation, and mailing the post to others. If a blue icon appears in the top right hand corner of the post, that means there are comments that you can read as well. Tapping the icon will expand the post to include the comments, and allow you to like, and also comment from within the post. If there is a photo, you can tap on it to get a full view, same with videos.

This App is rather useful, though in truth I was thinking from the beginning that the GUI would look more like the contacts page, just a sort of flip book with tabs on the side for me to thumb through my different accounts at will as opposed to having a menus approach like they currently have. If you are a heavier user of any of those above listed services, you may wish to stick to their individual Apps, or at the very least check into your account online via your favorite web browser semi-often, because you can not actually edit your accounts from here. You can look, but can’t edit. You can look at peoples birthdays in a cool list view, showing from top to bottom, the closest birthdays, and it also lists how far away they are. You can tap on your’s or anyone’s location and see it on the map, but you can’t change it. I imagine it’s not really the fault of Taptivate that you can’t actually change those settings, but if they can put that functionality into the App, I’m all for it. Also, at current, though I’m sure this will change in time, you cannot have more than one account for each service. For most people this wouldn’t be a problem, but I have read about some people on twitter having one personal twitter account and a business account for their work. If you are one of these kinds of people, you may wish to have a back up client for twitter at least. In the end this App does very well for itself. The App is simple enough to navigate. You can add custom groups and lists if you wish, and you can read all of your friends posts in one convenient place. I give this App an 8 out of 10, Priced at $1.99 here in the states, it’s not a bad deal if you’re willing to shill out the two bucks for the convenience that the App provides.

App receives an 8 on a 10 point scale.

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