October 03, 2012, 6:54 PM — There's a new App.net client for iOS in town, and it looks a whole lot like one of the most beloved Twitter clients on the planet. Tapbots on Wednesday released Netbot, an App.net-focused sequel to the company's hugely popular Tweetbot app.
Tapbots is one of many developers seemingly stung by Twitter's recent API changes, which limit how large third-party apps can grow. Of course, App.net-focused Netbot won't immediately be able to match the size of the company's Twitter-based business; while Twitter boasts of millions of users, App.net's user base hovers around the 20,000 mark.
"We're making Netbot as an investment in the future," Tapbots's Paul Haddad told Macworld. With the service's current size, "we certainly don't expect Netbot to fully support our company," he said. "That being said, we expect App.net to continue to grow, and hope many more users sign up now that Netbot is available." Haddad's wish may just come true; Netbot's release comes hot on the heels of App.net's price drop earlier this week.
While Netbot isn't the first App.net iOS app to enter the App Store, it's perhaps the most polished of the bunch. (We'll publish a review roundup of several such apps, including Netbot, soon.) Having a functional Twitter app in place already certainly simplified work, especially because, as Haddad says, "the parts of the [App.net] API that are currently implemented are fairly similar" to Twitter's API. Even better, he says, the App.net API offers "a few bits that aren't publicly available on the Twitter API," which lets Netbot show stars (like Twitter's favorites) and reposts (like retweets) for a given post.
On the other hand, Haddad adds, "Twitter has support for streaming and direct messages (DMs), which are likely going to be the biggest things people notice as currently missing" from App.net and Netbot by extension. That said, "App.net has been implementing new APIs on a weekly basis, so I expect those to be available relatively soon."
App.net's embrace of its third-party developers seems to be paying off; there are new apps for the service each week. "I'm actually happy to see all the other App.net clients," Haddad said, because "it'll force everyone to provide better apps."