Reddit finally debuted its official app today, giving the massive community another way to get its collective Reddit fix on iPhone or Android. At first blush, in a lot of ways it’s more fun than using the desktop version. And it’s prettier.
When you first fire it up, you’ll notice video- and image-based submissions appear larger in the interface (the full width of your phone). The upvote and downvote arrows live beneath each submission. (If you’re right-handed you might find it odd that the downvote arrow is the closest option to your thumb.) It’s also easier to manage your subscriptions as each subreddit title has a plus sign or a check mark next to it to confirm your status.
The app also seems to put an emphasis on commenting, as the text box is prominent in each thread. What’s more, the iOS app adds a feature to the “next top comments” button that allows users to move the button around the screen much like Facebook Messenger’s Chat Heads feature.
It seems like a worthy rival to Alien Blue, the most popular third-party app, which has really been the mobile team’s goal from the start.
“Originally the plan was to take Alien Blue and revamp it and modernize it, give it a design refresh, add some new features,” says Ashley Higgins, mobile product manager at Reddit, in a behind the scenes video. “Then we decided to scrap that plan because there was more we wanted to do with the app where we didn’t want to be limited by the infrastructure that alien blue had.”
The debut continues a busy week for Reddit: A blocking or mute feature was rolled out Wednesday, a move that the Times observed might be how it plans to grow beyond its 243 million unique monthly visitors.
Reddit felt this was a much-needed launch.
“When I first walked in Steve and the other people here on the mobile team said ‘basically, we need to ship and iOS app yesterday,’” David Kasper, an iOS engineer, says in the video.
Regular users have some valid gripes already, including those from the top comment on the Reddit Mobile App’s announcement post, which pointed out the odd placement of the upvote, slow image uploads, and a lack of mod functions.
Over on the subreddit for Alien Blue, the top comment about the app’s launch is that redditors can’t sort subreddits to which they’re subscribed by “favorite” or “casual.” And on the new official app, it could become annoying to scroll through a long list of alphabetically sorted subreddits just to get to /r/WTF.
For today, many may decide to stick to the tried-and-true third-party apps, but Reddit seems content with that.
“Our third-party apps are great they’ve filled the void during the time when we didn’t have apps. If you enjoy those other clients, please keep using them,” wrote Alex Le, vice-president of consumer product at Reddit, in a response to the top comment on the app’s announcement post. “We’re going to focus on making our apps the best they can be for as many Redditors as we can. That might involve some compromises that don’t work for all of our users and we’re ok with that.”
This means hardcore Reddit users can continue to use the service they’ve come to know and love, but this move is just the latest in a series of changes to try and grow the community to Facebook or Twitter status.
New users may still be confused at the lack of discovery options, a problem with which Twitter is also struggling, but even the Reddit commenter making complaints had to admit the user interface is “pretty” — and that’s a first step.