Few hours with App.net

So I joined app.net today. An year’s subscription costs $36 and there’s a monthly option for $5. I chose the latter for a start.

The global feed, similar to Twitter’s public timeline

It’s pretty much a Twitter-like service with a slightly different vocabulary. You create posts with a maximum length of 256 characters, as opposed to Twitter’s 140 limit on tweets. You can @ reply to other people’s posts and repost the good ones (just like retweeting). Or quote them (old-school retweet) and star them (favorite). There’s no counterpart to Twitter’s DMs as yet, but it’s coming soon. You can follow and unfollow other users.

How does it differ from Twitter?
For one thing, app.net will never advertise or sell their users’ data, as promised by the developers. It will be funded by the subscription fees. This also means only the people who are really interested will join app.net.

Secondly, app.net _is_ an open-source API. It focuses on users and third-party developers. Compare this with Twitter which now shuns third-party apps. Everyone had big hopes on Twitter a few years back, but not anymore. I tweeted a good post on this by Terence Eden some time back. Everyone should read that.

App.net may still be in its early stages, but developers have gathered around the platform and are building apps actively. There are quite a few apps already in the app.net directory. Other than the Alpha webapp by app.net itself, I tried out Dash for Android, NoodleApp for the web, and Texapp, a text-based client written in Perl just like Ttytter by the same developer. Best of all, you can use app.net with IFTTT as well.

appnetstats gives a realtime overview of the current app.net stats. Currently, majority of the users are developers and geeks, which is perhaps a good thing. Lots of constructive conversations going on.

Is app.net going to kill Twitter?
I don’t think so. Not being free will make most users stay out of it for the foreseeable future and stay with Twitter. But app.net will grow into a good community without any of Twitter’s stinking aspects. I really hope this will be the case. It’s been just a few hours, and if the going gets good I may subscribe for a full year. One may argue that no one should pay for a service that you can get for free, but in reality you cannot get what app.net offers from Twitter. You just can’t. They have explicitly defined their core values in their home page and Terms of Service in github.

Follow me on app.net if you’re there; I go by @thameera.