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Reddit Acquires Alien Blue

Alien Blue, perhaps the most popular third-party Reddit app available on iOS, has been acquired by Reddit. Greg Kumparak writes at TechCrunch:

We heard whispers of this deal going back a few weeks. While reddit isn’t disclosing terms, they’ve just confirmed to me that they’ve acquired the Alien Blue project and that its Melbourne-based developer, Jase Morrissey, will be joining their team.

Curiously, reddit seems to hesitate in calling the app their “official iOS reader” — they’re keeping the “Alien Blue” name, for example, rather than changing it to just be called “reddit” or “reddit reader” or something.

I’ve covered Alien Blue several times here at MacStories over the past five years – it’s always been a fantastic Reddit client packed with nice design touches and powerful functionalities to customize the way you read Reddit, browse sub-reddits, and interact with comments. It’s interesting to see Reddit acquiring a power-user app such as Alien Blue rather than more simplistic and minimal clients, and it makes me wonder if the company will keep on adding features for reading and user management, or if they’ll begin to simplify the app and remove its advanced features (always been a fan of subreddit grouping and iCloud sync in the app).

Alien Blue joins the dedicated Reddit AMA app on the App Store, and it’s available in two versions for iPhone and iPad; Reddit is keeping the app’s “Pro” In-App Purchase, but to ease the transition to the separate app, they’re offering it for free for a limited time.


Redd, A Reddit Client for iOS 7



I’m not an active Reddit user, but I enjoy checking the front page and a few subreddits to stay on top of tech/gaming news and the latest meme. For years, I’ve been using Alien Blue on my iPhone and iPad to read threads, view links and photos, and navigate to my favorite subreddits, and I think that the app remains the premier Reddit client for iOS with tons of options and settings. I was curious, however, to try out Redd, a $0.99 Reddit client for iPhone specifically designed for iOS 7. Read more

Alien Blue Updates for iOS 7

Alien Blue, developed by Jason Morrissey, is the only Reddit client that I keep on my iPhone and iPad. The app has been constantly and thoughtfully updated throughout the years, with Jason adding support for new iOS and Reddit features while also maintaining a clear identity for his app.

For iOS 7, Alien Blue has been updated with some subtle design changes and improvements, but, overall, the app’s interface was already minimal enough to fit with iOS 7’s general aesthetic (unless set to the Forstallian wooden theme). Alien Blue doesn’t integrate with iOS 7’s Dynamic Type setting, so you’ll still have to adjust font size in the app’s Settings under Appearance.

In terms of features, the iPad app received some minor additions like a new gesture to toggle the iOS status bar, whereas the iPhone version, which is free with a $1.99 In-App Purchase, has been improved in several areas. Notably, there are now inbox notifications on iOS 7, GIFs and videos are supported in the Canvas view, and the Optimal browser view has been enhanced to work with more sites, large GIFs, and to completely declutter YouTube videos. Some previously Pro-only features like comment link previews and Retina thumbnails have been ported to the free version, and, overall, the Canvas view has become a fantastic replacement for the standard list view.

Alien Blue has been on my Home screen for years and it keeps getting better. There are some aspects that I’d still like to see improved (the sharing menu, for instance, it a bit archaic) and I don’t like the alternative themes, but Alien Blue remains my favorite Reddit client. The iPhone app is free with an In-App Purchase, and the iPad version is $3.99 on the App Store.

Alien Blue 2.6

Alien Blue 2.6 for iPhone

The latest update to Alien Blue, the best Reddit client available on the iPhone, adds a number of features, interface refinements, and improvements that bring the app on par with the iPad version, last updated in May. Alien Blue 2.6 is a major update that adds iCloud sync, subreddit grouping and discovering functionalities, and an entirely new Canvas view that offers a more convenient layout to browse Reddit images.

When version 2.1 of Alien Blue for iPad came out adding subreddit grouping, I wrote about the feature:

Subreddit grouping, however, has changed the way I use Alien Blue. Aside from the convenience of neatly categorizing similar subreddits in the app’s sidebar, each group can be turned into a “front page” collecting all the most upvoted links of each subreddit. This means that, for instance, I was able to create a “Learn” group within Alien Blue, throw TodayILearned, HistoryPorn, Wikipedia, and ExplainLikeImFive in there, so that when I’m in the mood of learning new things and cool facts, I can enjoy my own “Learn” Reddit front page made of the subreddits I grouped. It’s incredibly smart.

In using the iPhone update released last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the iCloud sync promised by the developer weeks ago worked as advertised. Upon logging into the app with my Reddit account, Alien Blue took seconds to fetch my existing groups of subreddits. In scrolling through my various front pages and tapping on links (Alien Blue for iPhone now has “optimal” views for articles, images, and videos – which are incredibly handy on the iPhone), iCloud also synced read statuses back to the iPad, dimming links that had already been checked out on the iPhone. Unlike most iCloud-enabled apps I have tried, Alien Blue’s cross-device implementation looks solid.

Among the new features (a complete list is available on Reddit), the updated Canvas view stood out because of its elegant design and gesture-based navigation. Setting its color scheme to black to make image thumbnails really pop out on the Retina display, I was able to quickly skim through images with taps (load a single image), swipes (swipe horizontally to navigate, swipe vertically to go back to grid view or advance pages), and double-taps (open image in full-screen mode). Even more than on the iPad, Canvas view makes for a great mobile browsing experience on the iPhone’s smaller display.

Alien Blue 2.6 is a great update, and the app is available for free on the App Store with a $1.99 in-app purchase to unlock more features (including Canvas and Retina thumbnails).


Alien Blue 2.1

Alien Blue 2.1

My favorite Reddit client for iPad, Alien Blue by Jason Morrisey, was recently updated to version 2.1, adding a number of functionalities (including iCloud sync, which will work alongside an upcoming update to the iPhone version) aimed at increasing the app’s Reddit-based discoverability features.

From Alien Blue’s subreddit:

Inside Alien Blue, you’ll now find a well curated and up-to-date list of active subreddits ranging across a wide variety of topics. This list is maintained and updated nightly. If you see something missing, you can make a recommendation in any of the categories and they’ll be live soon after.

To better leverage Reddit’s wide-ranging amount of information available every day, Alien Blue now lets you easily organize similar subreddits (sections of the site) into groups that are synced to iCloud, and will automatically carry over to the iPhone once the new version comes out. At first I didn’t get the usefulness of groups – I was used to accessing my most-visited subreddits through Alien Blue’s sidebar, which, by the way, in version 2.1 seems to be more reliable at switching between “compact navigation” and extended panels depending on whether you’re holding the iPad in landscape or portrait mode.

Subreddit grouping, however, has changed the way I use Alien Blue. Aside from the convenience of neatly categorizing similar subreddits in the app’s sidebar, each group can be turned into a “front page” collecting all the most upvoted links of each subreddit. This means that, for instance, I was able to create a “Learn” group within Alien Blue, throw TodayILearned, HistoryPorn, Wikipedia, and ExplainLikeImFive in there, so that when I’m in the mood of learning new things and cool facts, I can enjoy my own “Learn” Reddit front page made of the subreddits I grouped. It’s incredibly smart.

Check out all the improvements in Alien Blue 2.1 in the official announcement post, and download the app at $3.99 on the App Store.


Reddit Client Alien Blue for iPad Receives Major 2.0 Update

When I’m not writing, reading, or talking to my team, one of the things I like to do online is casually check on Reddit for the latest meme, links to interesting news, or more serious discussion that can only take place thanks to Reddit’s unique nature and community. And when I’m not using my computer, which is “most of the time” these days, I like to do so using Jason Morrisey’s Alien Blue, a Reddit client for iOS that I recently re-reviewed in its newest iPhone version, and that today received a major 2.0 update on the iPad.

Just like the 2.5 update for iPhone, Alien Blue HD 2.0 includes several interface changes to make the Reddit browsing experience more pleasant, as well as various new features that take advantage of the iPad’s larger screen. For instance, Alien Blue HD is already Retina-enabled for the new iPad, with the exception of launch images, which will be updated soon. But the biggest change in this version, new coat of interface paint aside, is the new panel-based navigation that allows you to seamlessly move through Alien Blue’s main sidebar – which lists Reddit sections and subreddits – and posts, comments, and web views. Inspired by Twitter for iPad’s panel-based UX, but much simpler to use, Alien Blue lets you swipe through panels to move around in the interface, or simple pinch on these panels to dismiss them. In fact, the entire app has been tweaked to allow for more gestures, as listed below:

  • Double-tap header for fullscreen
  • Hold-tap on Posts list to show post options
  • (Alternative) 2-finger swipe to show post options
  • 2-finger tap to upvote items
  • 3-finger tap to downvote items
  • 2-finger left swipe over comments to collapse to root
  • Drag Posts list up to load more

I’ve found myself using the double-tap and 2-finger tap gestures a lot, and I think they contribute to making the app faster and easier to use. A visual guide for gestures is available in the Settings screen as well.

There are several improvements and optimizations that found their way in this 2.0 update. The app now supports larger thumbnails, and you can view videos alongside comments in any thread. The post and comment interfaces have been redesigned, alongside the new pull-to-refresh gesture that works similarly to its iPhone counterpart (the subtle animation is pretty amazing). Image links and YouTube videos are now displayed more elegantly, and a new “Optimal” setting for web views enables webpages to scale intelligently to fit Alien Blue’s window. There’s more: you can now delete posts, and links to subreddits open directly within Alien Blue. The app sports Evernote integration to let you save posts in any of your notebooks, and you can check out a submitter’s details right from a post you’re viewing. There are new tags for NSFW posts, and Facebook and Twitter sharing have been fixed. There are dozens of little improvements and fixes in Alien Blue HD 2.0, so I recommend you check out the release notes for the complete list.

More importantly, I like how Alien Blue’s experience is still intact in spite of the interface changes and new navigation schemes. You can still switch to Canvas view to browse images as large thumbnails, and there are several themes to choose from in the Settings. The new UI doesn’t add weight to the app in terms of performance, as Alien Blue still scrolls smoothly and updates fast on the iPad 2.

Alien Blue HD 2.0 offers a rich and intuitive Reddit experience in a native app that comes with many options to interact with Reddit content and links submitted to the site. Even if you don’t spend hours on Reddit every day, the app still offers an incredibly polished experience that I recommend you consider if you’re planning on browsing Reddit from your iPad.

Alien Blue HD 2.0 is available at $3.99 on the App Store.

Reddit Client Alien Blue for iPhone Updated To 2.5

Alien Blue, my favorite iPhone app to access Reddit and see what the Internet has been up to, was updated to version 2.5 a few minutes ago. I have been beta testing the new version, and users of Alien Blue (which also comes in a separate “HD” version for iPad) will be pleased to know that several old annoyances have been fixed, and new features introduced to make browsing Reddit from an iPhone a much more pleasant experience.

Alien Blue, developed by Jason Morrissey, comes with a $1.99 in-app purchase that unlocks additional functionalities of the app including Canvas, a way to browse images posted on Reddit with a thumbnail-based interface optimized for touch. In Alien Blue 2.5, users who will unlock the Pro edition will also get access to sharper “retina thumbnails” on Retina Display devices (iPhone 4/4S, iPod touch) and comment link previews. If you usually “lurk” on Reddit just to check on the latest meme or #AdviceAnimal, being able to preview thumbnails at high definition should be a welcome addition for your Retina displays – sharper thumbnails also fit well in the app’s interface, and I’d recommend the upgrade just to avoid fuzzy images in the main list. With the same concept, any link posted in a comment thread will get a nice visual preview through the Pro upgrade – this can be quite useful to instantly know what you’re about to open from the comments, thus possibly skipping yet another Redditor’s Wife picture.

Alien Blue’s design has received a series of improvements in this update. Both the Posts and Comments screen have been revised, but I believe the sweetest “little touch” in AB 2.5 is the new “pull to refresh” animation, which I’ll let you check out by yourself without spoiling all the fun.

Alongside bug fixes, here are some of the minor improvements officially reported in the changelog:

  • Updated launch image
  • Ability to jump to subreddit directly from a post
  • Ability to jump to submitter’s details directly from a post
  • Auto-link shortening when sharing with Twitter
  • Voting status now reflects in the colour of the score

Alien Blue remains, in my opinion, the best way to check on Reddit from the iPhone and iPod touch, and I look forward to the changes introduced in this version to find their way onto the iPad as well. Alien Blue for iPhone is free (which is a great deal considering the features you’re getting anyway without paying), with a $1.99 purchase available in-app. As a side note, it appears the Mac version of Alien Blue, announced last year, is still “coming soon” according to the developer’s website.

Top image generated with iMeme for Mac.

Alien Blue Reddit Client Coming To The Mac

Alien Blue, the popular Reddit client for iPhone and iPad, is coming to the Mac with a native version that will be released on the Mac App Store. For those who haven’t tried Alien Blue, it’s an unofficial Reddit application that’s been very successful on the App Store thanks to its clean design, possibility to create shortcuts for subreddits (categories) to reduce the number of taps to navigate the website, as well as inline media viewing for pictures and video, undoubtedly a huge part of Reddit’s success. Alien Blue for iOS (an app that I’ve personally enjoyed using over the past months), is a full-featured Reddit client with login features to check on your Reddit account and leave comments, Read It Later, Instapaper and Readability integration and many more functionalities including a “search” feature to look into Reddit’s archive of posts.

The Mac version of Alien Blue, teased on the app’s website today, looks very elegant and falls in line with the iOS counterpart’s minimal, yet powerful approach to the social sharing / commenting website. Alien Blue for Mac will have a three-panel interface with a column on the left to switch between front page, subreddits and your account’s sections. The mid panel will be used to scroll posts, or check on your messages and notifications. The right panel, the larger one, will allow you to see the actual posts, images and videos. As you can see from the screenshots, everything will be reformatted and redesigned to fit Alien Blue’s aesthetics and color scheme. From a first impression, the app seems to be slightly inspired from Reeder, Sparrow and OS X Lion in general in the way it makes use of monocrome icons, large rounded buttons and a compose window similar to the one seen in the alternative mail client. It looks very intriguing overall, but of course some things may change come the final release.

The developer also writes on the website Alien Blue for Mac will integrate HTML5 technology for YouTube and Vimeo videos, implement Readability to elegantly lay out webpages, and folder for groups of subreddits.

To follow the development of Alien Blue, you can check out Reddit’s dedicated section, or follow the developer on Twitter.