As one iTunes reviewer put it so succinctly: “I find myself browsing Reddit more and more on this app than a browser. Clean, efficient, quick”. Alien Blue [iTunes link] is a $3.99 app that enhances the Reddit experience with touch-enhanced gestures and a gorgeous user interface. Be warned – you’ll probably never touch the website version of Reddit again. Never tried Reddit? Don’t worry, this app is a great way to get into it, and don’t forget our free Reddit guide while you’re at it.
First off, you should know that until now, I didn’t touch Reddit. It’s not I have any objections to the social bookmarking service – I just rarely use web apps in general. I prefer to consume news and information in a more efficient way than randomly browsing Internet sites. Pretty much everything I read online comes via Flipboard, Reeder or BBC News. However, this iPad app has singlehandedly made me into a fully-fledged Redditor and has gained a coveted place on my daily-use apps.
A Reddit Primer
If you’re a seasoned Reddit, you can skip right over this. I wasn’t, so I learnt everything about Reddit from this app. Here’s what I know. There are these great things called sub-reddits, which are basically categories of posts. For instance, /r/aww contains mountains of pictures that make you go “awww~ that’s so cute“, while /r/nsfw is entirely porn. NSFW posts across the board are cleared labelled, and you can disable them globally if you wish. You can upvote OR downvote stories, which is a welcome change in a world where Facebook steadfastly refuses to give a dislike button. I’ve probably missed a lot, but that’s the basics.
Interface & Gestures
The first thing you notice about Alien Blue is that it’s absolutely gorgeous, taking full advantage of retina graphics on the new iPad.
Not convinced? There are 5 different themes, as well as a night mode, and text size adjustments too:
It’s also rock solid and very responsive, so you find yourself browsing through huge amounts of Reddit stories, upvoting and downvoting like a pro – far more quickly than you ever could online with a mouse and keyboard. It’s not just for browsing though – you can post new stories from within the app, and with a user account enabled you get full access to your own profile, messages, or reply notifications.
Upvote & Downvote (Over 9,000 a minute)
Though I’m pretty much just a consumer and rarely upvote or downvote anything, those of you wishing to participate in this democracy will be happy to hear about these two easy to remember short cuts: a two finger tap to upvote something, a three finger tap to downvote it. Genius – it’s so simple – but takes a while to train yourself into not simply tapping the up or down buttons.
The default interface is a column-based browser that allows you to drill down to details, and it works beautifully. The first column shows all your subscribed Reddits – click one to load all the posts into the second column.
Clicking a post will open it in a third column, and hide the leftmost sub-reddit list. Pull into a fourth column to load the comment thread. You can pinch to close panes/columns at any point, though you needn’t bother because the app does it all automatically anyway. There’s even a satisfying swoosh animation when content gets pulled in from the right-side of the screen.
If you scroll to the bottom of the posts list, you can pull up a little to automatically load more, or use the slide toggle to refresh and hide all the items you’ve read, or hide all of them.
In addition to the intuitive column based browsing, you can switch on gallery mode for quick-browsing those sub-reddits that are predominantly pictures, if you know what I mean (I mean lolcats and cute things, by the way – I don’t know what you were thinking of).
Even if you’re not an existing Reddit user, I would definately encourage you to check out this iPad Reddit app. It’s an incredibly impressive bit of programming by anyone’s standards, even more impressive considering it came from a single developer (Jason Morissey). The $3.99 price tag is well worth it considering how useful this is, and I’m happy I’ve now joined the ranks of confirmed Reddit democratic Internet curators. This is definitely one for the best iPad apps page!
For existing Reddit users, I suspect having a native iPad app to access your activity feed your habit will be welcomed, though I don’t know enough about Reddit to be able to comment on advanced functionality. Let us know in the comments if you’ve had a chance to try it out and what you think of it.
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