I met Bryan Clark and Jesse Herlitz during last year’s WWDC. Under the cover of darkness, in the backroom of a bar, they showed me the beginning of a brand new client for App.net . By combining slick animations, colorful transparencies, and intuitive natural gestures, they created an app the looked at home on Apple’s new iOS 7; introduced just days earlier. Today, after a year of refinement, Blixt has finally made it to the App Store.
Instead of re-envisioning how an iOS application should look, Blixt has reinvented how an iOS application should behave. Users are no longer content navigating their apps the same way they browse their address books. Being pulled along a string of endless lists tied together by the Back button. Instead Blixt takes a new approach. Giving users full screen content in stacks they can shuffle using just their fingertips.
Think of Blixt as a stack of playing cards. Want to get more information on a particular post? Tap the entry and a new card comes to the top of the stack. The post you just tapped travels with you to the new card using a simple sliding animation. Swiping from the left returns the top card back to the stack and repeats the sliding animation in reverse. By using simple animations like these Blixt reminds users of their position within the stack.
Each new card is its own full screen view of a conversation, profile, or reply. There are separate stacks of cards for your timeline and mentions. Accounts and settings can be accessed by swiping from the left. The iOS title bar shows unread counts, and status updates. A search field can by revealed by pulling down on a timeline or conversation card. The only visible control on each card is a large circular post/reply button in the lower left. The rest of the screen is dedicated to content. It is easy to forget Blixt is an application, and not just a series of colorful cards painted on your iPhone’s screen.
Unlike other applications that offer a choice of font or theme, Blixt lets the people you follow control the experience. The background of each card is colored with a blurred reproduction of the conversation owner’s cover image. By following more people there is an even greater chance to make the next card look different than the last, and for Blixt to become a whole new experience every time you launch it.
Blixt doesn’t do private messages, and Like Ben Brooks I found a pretty bad bug when you tap on a post with a link it. Normally missing features and bugs on a version 1.0 wouldn’t mean much, but by being built on the App.net, Blixt may have a short time to live .
From the icon to the scroll, Blixt is one of the best iOS experiences I have had in some time. At this point it isn’t optimized for iPad, but with the upcoming features coming to iOS 8 I expect it to eventually work on an iOS device of any size. It is a shame Blixt’s life may be cut short by the loss of App.net, but I advise anyone with or without an account to try Blixt out today.