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App.net

A year ago this week, the App.net team set out to reinvent social networking by building a paid platform for others to build their own social networks. By and large, though, App.net has seemed to be little more than a Twitter clone — a very good one, nonetheless — that offers longer messages, file storage, and no ads.

That’s far from the full vision for the service, though. App.net includes a built-in social networking app, Alpha, and a private messaging app, Omega, but the goal is for developers to use it to build more social enabled apps. That dream has begun to come true, with apps like Patter turning App.net into a private group chat tool ala Campfire, and Filebase and Orbit letting you use App.net as a CloudApp alternate.

But one of the more unique just might be Vidcast, an app that lets you hangout and watch videos or listen to music together with your friends, powered by App.net. It’s currently crowdfunding its next version, so we took the time to talk with the Vidcast team about their app. Here’s a look behind the scenes at how App.net still has a chance at powering the most innovative new social networking apps.

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Twitter spawned a whole ecosystem of social networking apps, each vying to make it easier to see all of your social networks together, post everywhere, share longer posts, and more. There were so many different social networking web apps for the same set of social networks, it was impossible to keep track of them all.

Then, Twitter started cracking down on how 3rd party apps could use its API. And both Twitter and Facebook started building their own nicer apps and pro tools, crowding alternates out of the market. Where there used to be an overabundance of social networking apps, now most of us are back to using each network’s own apps. But there’s still a few solid apps out there that can make social networking easier and more productive, and one of the the very best is Buffer.

Buffer’s been one of those apps that everyone loved, but I never could get into. It was designed to auto-post stuff on a schedule, and I preferred to post stuff in real-time. But running the social networking for 3 sites and my own personal profiles got to be too much, and I needed an app to help me out. And Buffer turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Here’s how I learned to stop doing social networking manually and embrace the Buffer.

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Two years ago, we asked you what was your favorite social network. You split the vote almost exactly in thirds between Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, that is if you don’t include the 11% that said they can’t stand social networking.

It’s a different world today in many ways, but the tides really don’t seem to have changed that much in social networking. Google+, if anything, has continued to be less popular than Facebook and Twitter, despite its continued improvements. Facebook has continued to change its settings and design on a regular basis, but we all keep coming back to it since everyone else is there. And Twitter, despite shutting down most 3rd party apps, has continued to grow and dominate the public online conversation.

There’s other networks, of course. App.net was started to make a Twitter alternate that’s more developer friendly, and has turned into quite the nice network of its own. And blog platform Tumblr was bought out by Yahoo! not just because it’s a great place to start a blog, but also because it’s actually a social network of a sort. And that’s not all. Mobile messaging apps like Line have taken the world — or Asia at least — by storm, and are building up their own in-app social networks.

My personal loyalties lie divided between Twitter and App.net, and I only seldom use Facebook and nearly never use Google+. How about you? We’d love to hear what social networks you prefer in 2013.

I’ve tried archival services for Twitter in the past, and they can be terribly handy when you need to find a link you shared in the past or some old conversation you had months back. Journalists, especially, are likely to end up finding the services very useful. But now that I’ve been using App.net a lot more, I’ve started searching for apps that would help me search through my ADN account.

I ended up stumbling upon a web service called Watermark.io, provided by Riverfold Software (the same developer behind the fantastic Tweet Library archive service). Watermark.io supports not only my ADN archive, but also my Twitter archive, which makes it great no matter which social network you prefer — and especially great if you use both services a lot.

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You’ve likely already heard of App.net, the new paid social network that’s similar to Twitter, yet more developer friendly. App.net is something that I was cautious about trying. After all, a subscription is $36 a year. I wrestle with giving up any money on a monthly or annual basis, especially for a service that I don’t know will continue to be around.

That being said, I’m past my worrying. ADN is going to be here for a while, and I think there’s never been a better time to join (perhaps with the free accounts we’re giving away below). Here’s why.

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When I first heard of App.net, the idea didn’t appeal to me. I’m not the kind of person who pays for a social network because I’m not that serious about chatting with people online. Sometimes Twitter is very useful, though. I use it to chat with a few people each day and even though I’ve taken breaks from it time to time, I always end up going back because I like the simplicity. That’s what App.net promised, along with a third-party API, so why wouldn’t I like it?

Since I didn’t want to pay for the service, I simply dismissed the thought of trying it out. Then a way to get free access was officially added. You have to be asked to the network by a current member, and there are limitations to storage and following counts. All in all, it sounded like a fair way for me to get a taste of this fresh site.

I was invited to this free tier by Andrew Kunesh, one of our other writers here at AppStorm. I’ve been using the service since the day its “freemium” version was announced, but I actually don’t use it every day. I’m going to explain what I like about App.net, followed by what’s holding me back from visiting the site every day. (more…)

Twitter continues to be the rising star in social networking, as businesses have latched onto it for its marketing power as an open network. Open, that is, as in public, not as in easy to develop for. 3rd party developers have continued to have trouble with Twitter, which has added user limits and other restrictions to their apps, making it rather obvious that Twitter wants its own apps to be the only full Twitter apps out there. There’s still plenty of apps that work with Twitter, but they’re mostly only for quick sharing to Twitter, and the development of full 3rd party Twitter apps has dropped dramatically.

What has increased are the 3rd party alternatives to Twitter, and the development of apps for them. Most notable has been App.net, the paid social network that’s strikingly similar to Twitter, only with a 256 character limit on posts and no ads. I joined during its initial funding stage last year, wrote about it here, and have continued to use it since daily at @maguay. It works great, though is still very similar to Twitter and continues to be interesting because of the people that are using it more than anything. It’s a friendly, helpful, techie community, though that’s because of the people on it, not the underlying tech.

I was wondering if any of the rest of you are using App.net. Have you tried it, and if so, what are your thoughts on the network?

Twitter is a social network a lot of us use on a daily basis. I could easily Facebook, because Twitter is the network for me. However, its recent activity has not gone unnoticed and the San Francisco-based company has recieved a lot of controversial attention over its practice with developers.

In this article, we’re going to explore some of the recent attention Twitter has been getting and looking at what it means for us, the users and consumers of third-party apps. (more…)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of Twitter’s new restrictions on third-party developers. If so, you’re probably also aware of other actions Twitter has been taking which put the users on the losing end, such as shutting down the “find my friends” API for Instagram and Tumblr. Consequently, technologically-inclined users have been increasingly vocal about their disapproval of the microblogging company.

As a general result of this, App.net (ADN) was formed. Led by Dalton Caldwell, ADN offers something Twitter isn’t: to let the user be the customer, not the product. This is based on a simple principle: users and developers pay ADN to use the service, and ADN does its best to serve their interests, not those of advertisers. I believed in the cause and contributed $50 to the Kickstarter-esque project early on.

App.net’s funding was successful. It’s taken weeks of using it before I’ve really started to follow my Timeline, all thanks to Netbot’s defibrillate shock that revitalized ADN. However, I’m started to have second thoughts as to whether the service is a good idea after all.

And just in time, another option came along: Tent.io.

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After making rather drastic changes to its API and app policies, Twitter became a lot more about Twitter.com and a lot less about the many apps that helped it get popular in the first place. It’s still a perfectly great network, and Twitter.com still provides a quite nice interface if it’s the only way to use the service. But the changes have been enough to set off a tidal wave of new social networking ideas.

In the weeks since then, we’ve seen the new App.net paid social network take off, with dozens of high-quality apps and tools released already for the new network. We’ve also seen the new Tent.io social networking platform launched, which aims to make it as easy to run your own Twitter-style network as running a WordPress blog. Then, there’s plenty of older competitors, from Status.net to Identi.ca that are getting more interest now that everyone’s scared the Twitter we love and know is going to disappear.

That’s why we’re wondering: have you started using another Twitter-like service? Do you plan to switch completely, or are you using it alongside Twitter? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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