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We're getting very close to releasing our iOS app on the App Store. Since the beginning of our private alpha, we have taken on hundreds of users, fixed a lot of bugs, and we have approached feature completion for v1.0. We're still working on finishing touches and fixing crashes - but there aren't too many of those these days. We believe we'll have this out in 6 to 8 weeks.

Current Alpha Testers:

We want to extend to you a huge thank you for using our app and giving us feedback. We've made a ton of improvements that filtered through here on meta. We're pretty greedy, though, and we want more of your feedback as we get close to beta. If you've been using the app, please leave an answer to tell us how you think we've done so far. Don't go easy on us - we want to get this as right as we can before hitting the App Store. You might even consider telling us how many stars you would give us if we were in the store.

Also, we created a room called iOS α for more casual discussion about the app.

Everyone Else:

The alpha will continue in the interim, and we still welcome signups!. The invitations are sent out once a week (usually), so if you don't get an invite right away, don't panic. We'll get to you.

Bugs or feature requests should be reported here on meta and tagged .

Update, 5/1/2014

We Did It!

As of today, the app is submitted for review. A great big thanks to all our alpha testers! Your feedback has been invaluable and has truly helped us make the app much better than it would have been without you.

So what now?

Well, we intend to keep the alpha test group around, except now we're considering it the "beta channel". It's still important to us, particularly since the update cycle through the AppStore is slow. We'll still roll out updates in the same way that we have been. We will also from time ask for targeted feedback on specific features.

And, lastly, if you're just now getting here and wished you had signed up for the alpha, feel free to sign up now anyway. The form is still there, and we may still let in additional users to the beta channel depending on what our "active users" count looks like.

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Please let's be civil and not talk about how much faster the iOS app is getting released than the Android one :( –  Kasra Rahjerdi Apr 4 at 20:04
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@KasraRahjerdi IOS TEAM RULES! cough –  Tim Stone Apr 4 at 20:05
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@KasraRahjerdi surely the design of the good old android app greatly helped, so it's also thanks to you! –  Shadow Wizard Apr 4 at 20:18
    
@ShadowWizard I'm going to take full responsibility since the app will be launching under my tenure as the mobile team lead. –  Kasra Rahjerdi Apr 4 at 20:19
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@Kasra right, I should have remembered that! So it also means that if 6-8 weeks pass by and still no Beta... we know who to blame! :-D –  Shadow Wizard Apr 4 at 20:24
    
How will the beta process differ from alpha? Will there just be more users invited, will it be open to all, or will it actually go to the app store? –  mhlester Apr 4 at 21:44
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@KasraRahjerdi Although, Objective-C is the way of the future, so that's probably why! :) –  AwesomeUser Apr 4 at 21:47
    
@mhlester It will go to the app store, just like we did with the Android app. –  Ben Collins Apr 4 at 21:48
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They allow "beta" on the app store? –  mhlester Apr 4 at 21:48
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@mhlester the app store doesn't care what we call it ;-) –  Ben Collins Apr 4 at 23:52
    
Doesn't Apple only allow 100 testers? –  The Wobbuffet Apr 7 at 23:36
    
I like the design on the apple alpha app. You're doing great. Once you polish all the bugs and add all the features it will be a nice app; you're going on the right way IMO. –  SysDragon Apr 8 at 9:52
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Congrats on the big milestone! You beat the 6-8 week estimate –  mhlester May 1 at 19:20

6 Answers 6

I had an early start and am very happy about it. For me the main usage of the app is being able to see notifications anytime and anywhere and it's working flawlessly, easy as checking SMS or emails.

Recently started exploring other things using the app and while I found it supports many things, I still miss few:

  1. Comment reply auto complete. Looks minor but I write many comments and really used to it on the site itself.
  2. Revisions. One of the most useful features of the sites is being able to see full revision list of each post edit history. Really miss that in the app, I can only see if post was edited which is a cruel teaser.

Apart of that can't really point on any problem or downside. For me the feed didn't work for long time and I can only hope it won't happen to others, as I was not able to trace it down.

Cheers to the wonderful team and all the best! :-) 🍻 (that is a beer, when viewed from a device with Emoji emoticons installed)

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Revisions one has bothered me for a while too. As well as not being able to see when a question was originally posted, just because it was recently edited. In fairness, neither of us has made that feature request though. –  mhlester Apr 4 at 21:38
    
@mhlester yep, a shame! You want the honor of making the official request? –  Shadow Wizard Apr 4 at 21:45
    
Are you saying I haven't submitted enough? The honor is yours. –  mhlester Apr 4 at 21:47
    
@mhl done! :-) –  Shadow Wizard Apr 4 at 21:55
    
I see two little glasses of beer clinking together on Android :-D –  Doorknob Apr 5 at 13:07
    
@Doorknob cool so it must be Emoji then, updated the answer. :-) –  Shadow Wizard Apr 5 at 21:14
    
You first point on Comment reply auto complete is also missing in Android app. Not sure how comment box looks in IOS(since I don't have one). But do you have any thoughts on how to have it? –  Praveen Apr 12 at 8:09
    
@Praveen it looks the same and having a drop down list pop up when typing @ sounds like a reasonable design, maybe only when typing @ followed by a letter though. –  Shadow Wizard Apr 12 at 9:49

First of all, this has been a pretty fantastic ride. The speed of s is unprecedented.

  • The biggest detractor to me is the inability to work in the app in a similar way to functioning in the desktop. Namely, working within tags ("searching"). Being able to see everything I'm interested in is too transient for my taste. (Don't go modal in app search)

  • The app feed took some getting used to, but I think it's a really nice addition that I'd like to see on the desktop as well. Kudos for breaking the mold on that one. That being said, I do wish I could tailor it to my preference little more, to sites I want to be more active in, but don't see. For instance, Photography Stack Exchange is on my sidebar, but I've never posted anything there. How can I see interesting questions from it, to help me start to become more involved over there?

  • I love getting inbox notifications immediately. It's useful even when I'm actively sitting at the computer.

  • "Achievements" should be moved to its own location, and along with "inbox" removed from the feed. All I want in the feed are questions, which I think is plenty interesting on its own. (Rep Change ("Achievements") Display)

  • Visually, the app is beautiful. Nicely done on a clean, useful, elegant interface.

Rating: 4.5 stars. Non-modal and savable searches would be more than enough for me to give it 5.

Bravo to all! You've done an incredible job in such a short amount of time.

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I agree, and would only expand on your first bullet, which we also discussed here: the inability to focus on a specific set of tags more fluidly and permanently makes the app virtually useless for me. I wouldn't rate it badly because of this, because the app is otherwise quite good, but I simply cannot use it without that feature. –  joran Apr 4 at 20:54
    
Agreed. I haven't been able to use SE the same way I use it on the desktop, but it's led me to find other interesting uses for it. I find myself only looking at questions from the feed because I can't look at all the questions I want to from the site tags easily –  mhlester Apr 4 at 20:55
    
@joran, added a new feature request for that. it's slightly different from what we've discussed, but has similar benefits, without requiring as much rework. combined with access to favorite tags, it should make it pretty easy to focus on what we want to see –  mhlester Apr 7 at 16:17

The two comments I have are:

  • the iPhone-optimised design is uncomfortable on the iPad; it's either too large and clunky or it's too small and difficult to use (for me, ymmv, obviously) in a touch display. I realise this is a closed beta, but I would recommend ('plead for') an iPad version, to take advantage of the screen's real estate.

  • I'd really appreciate some easy means of accessing the tag-wikis in the mobile app; I can click the tags, obviously, but that just seems to link to the tagged-questions list (as expected). Given that there's no ability to hover on iOS, it'd be nice to have an easy way to access the tag-wiki (perhaps a link presented to the top of the tagged-questions list?).

Otherwise, though, the response notifications make the app worthwhile in itself.

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Tablet UIs are definitely on our roadmap –  Ben Collins Apr 4 at 23:00
    
I had assumed that was the case, which is why no formal feature-request (from me), but seemed worth mentioning just in case, given the solicitation for comment :) –  David Thomas Apr 4 at 23:04
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In my opinion the default webpage works fine on an iPad using safari. No need for an app in my opinion. –  Patrick Hofman Apr 7 at 16:25
    
@DavidThomas, I just checked, and couldn't find a feature request for tag wikis. You should make one! –  mhlester Apr 7 at 22:08

I think the app is great; you guys have done a great job.

The limitations of my iPhone mean I tend to use the app to keep up-to-date with what is happening, and to simply peruse content rather than actively hunting down new questions to answer.

To that extent I think;

  1. The "Feed" is a great way to allow me to discover hot and interesting questions.
  2. The notifications are great for keeping me up-to-date.
  3. I still really miss the achievements drop-down. I know it's half-integrated with the feed, but the feed doesn't let me see what I've missed at a glance.

There are/were two things that made me keep referring to the desktop site in tandem with using the app;

  1. The in-ablity to upload photos (now implemented)
  2. The lack of replacement of the "achievements" drop down.

That aside, the app is stable and I've seldom had it crash on me; certainly at-least beta material if you ask me. I just really miss the achievements drop down (hey, did someone say I miss the achievements drop down?).

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I appreciate all the work done on the app so far. As a way to check notifications and see when there's something I might want to reply to based on what I've already posted, it's very helpful.

As a way to actually post new information, or browse new questions, it's not very useful. I occasionally post replies in the app, but without a custom keyboard (ie, one with special characters like ` [] () > and other code-related characters all on one page) that's pretty slow going.

As far as browsing new questions, it's hopeless for me at the moment. I just don't want to have to tag-search by hand each time (my main tag is not on the list of top tags), and on top of that, the tag search defaults to 'relevant' which is almost never relevant (I want 'newest' or 'interesting' or something else that doesn't bring 2-3 year old questions to the top). Without a 'favorite tag' option in the app, it's too many button pushes to get what I want, so I tend to not use it at all - I'd use the website over the app for browsing new questions.

However, honestly the main thing I'd use it for anyway is seeing replies to things I posted on the computer, so for my primary use-case it's pretty nifty.

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A huge cheers and congratulations to the collective testing/programming/design team (and especially the internal team) that responded to so many of the bug reports and posts here with solid code improvements. The app has really solidified and matured around the core functionality of posting, searching and being notified when things a user cares about change on the site.

If the app were to end up on the app store, it'd be a 3 to 4 star app for me with some criticism about the documentation and help.

Here are the things that will frustrate support staff and end users alike when it hits the store:

  1. Lack of any help in the app. (help goes to an alpha notice that will be alien to users that find the app on the app store)
  2. If there is no clear listing of things the app doesn't do, people may be frustrated that they can't chat in the app or to discover that it doesn't do what they wanted. This can be addressed somewhat by the text listing on the app store itself with links to a helpful post on the site explaining what features exist on each release. - Something like a mix of http://twitterrific.com/ios/history and http://help.agile.ws/1Password_touch/index.html would be ideal. The agile bits site does a good job with the "user's guide" concept with short, digestible items to cover the main features.
  3. Where will end users go for support initially? (Will you expect them to create an account on MSE, post a question and tag it properly or could the app add a large support button that posts a correctly tagged and perhaps annotated comment to MSE or whatever other place you want initial end user support to land).

I've been testing mostly from the perspective of an established user, but will run the app through the new user sign up - use without signing in perspective to see if I can reinforce these broad areas with specific recommendations. You may or may not want to share the thinking and attempts to start creating this support material with the testers, but if SE has thought through how you want to handle these things and just tell the users how to use the app in terms of known issues and/or known areas where the app doesn't work and how users can use the web version of the sites to [chat, see revisions, handle review tasks, handle flags, etc...] you'll waste less time replying to these questions individually when they do crop up.

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