Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Yibo - Android micro-blogging client

I came across this micro blogging tool purely by accident and thought I’d give it a try. This supports a variety of social networks, however at first appearance identi.ca and status.net do not appear to be an option. But on closer inspection it does allow the user to edit the API so to use Yibo with your identi.ca account simply enter the appropriate username and password and enter identi.ca/api for the API. My original intention was to review this application in an upcoming episode of TuxJam, however I couldn’t find out which license it has been released under so I decided to add it to my blog instead.

The UI is definitely aimed at twitter with the yellow bird and blue theme, however it is actually quite nice. The avatars are clear, if a little on the small side. Your username and avatar are permanently on display at the top of the screen and new posts are made by a (nicely) obvious button in the top right of the screen. The user can set the update frequency, however moving your finger down the screen will perform an instant update.A long press on a dent allows the user to reply, a nice feature of this is that the message your replying to remains on the screen under the message that the user is composing, this ensures that the correct dents are sent to the appropriate user, I’ve personally experienced issues with this before when I dent the wrong person. Other options on a long press include: redent, mark as favourite, view user profile, share to other accounts and copy to clipboard.


At the bottom of the screen, again the icons are obvious, this is a good thing as this has been written for the Japanese market, so personally I would find it impossible to read any documentation on it. The users ‘inbox’ is split into three (only two of which seem relevant to identi.ca): your replies and direct messages. The replies work fine, however there seems to be an issue with direct messages as only the most recent one is shown, even selecting more did not produce any additional direct messages. There is a third option that is entitled comments, however this personally gives me a nil response so I’m assuming that it is a Twitter feature. There is a button to view your profile and dents, a search feature and a few more that I didn’t use, again I think these were more aimed at Twitter users. There is also a well laid out menu page that directs the user to a number of places.


A bug (well I'm assuming this isn't a feature) that I discovered was that the dictionary does not appear to work with this application, whenever you are composing a dent no predicted text or spell checker comes up. I found this a bit of an inconvenience, but as I know a lot of people turn this feature off anyway, then it should not put potential new users off.


Whenever you exit the application, it displays a logo at the top of the screen to inform the user that the Yibo is still running in the background, that’s a handy feature if you want to ensure maximum battery life. Notifications are regular, however, by default, it alerts the user to all the new dents in their timeline, not just your direct mentions. This feature will be quickly switched off by the majority of users.


Overall it’s a nice application with some good features. As far as speed goes it’s quite quick, it doesn't have the lag that some of the Android micro-blogging clients suffer from. It seems very stable, not had any crashes after two weeks of testing. If you can get past the Twitter like colour scheme, then this is a very nice client that is worth checking out.


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