If you’re active in multiple social network services, you probably find yourself switching between multiple apps to keep up with each of them. But what if you could access each social networking service in a single app to streamline your online activity? Friends by Taptivate offers just this, bringing access to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn together in a single app.
When you first open Friends, you’re greeted with a sign-in screen to log in with your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace accounts. You can also sign in to Read It Later and Instapaper accounts here to save links for later reading.
After you’ve finished signing in to your social networking accounts, you’ll be brought to a (new to version 1.5) home screen where you can immediately see your latest notifications from all networks at the bottom and access your contacts, favorites, and posts using the menu at the top.
In the Contacts section, you’ll find a merged view of all of the contacts saved on your iPhone plus shortcuts to view contacts within each social network. Handily, Friends will automatically connect the contacts stored on your iPhone with their respective Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace accounts. If this automatic connection doesn’t work for some reason, you can link contacts yourself manually.
Tapping on a contact will reveal several tabs showing their information sourced from your iPhone and the social networks they use. However, there’s no way to truly merge information for your contacts to import information to your iPhone’s contact list if there’s more recent data for them in Facebook, for example.
Tapping on Posts in the main menu will bring you to all recent posts for all the networks you’ve signed into merged into a single stream. This is the heart of what Friends offers and it’s fantastic if you’re active in more than one of these social networking services and like to stay up to date with them. A small icon tacked onto each user’s avatar identifies the source of each post.
We’ve had our eye on Friends since it was released in December and one of the new features it just received in the update to version 1.5 changed the app completely (in a good way) for us: a new switcher mode that allows you to quickly change between Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and MySpace so you can browse through posts in each network if you’d rather see them separately. We really like this new mode and our only wish is to be able to be a little more selective to, say, choose to view both Twitter and Facebook posts at the same time since these are the networks we use most often.
Of course, you can also post to each social networking service within Friends – the Compose screen allows you to post to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn at the same time (you can deselect networks here too if you don’t want to post to all of them at once). You can also perform some actions unique to each service, like re-tweeting and following/unfollowing in Twitter and replying to and liking Facebook posts.
There’s also an in-app web browser so you can tap on links and view content on the web without needing to leave the app. Though it doesn’t offer push notifications, Taptivate says Boxcar integration is coming soon, as is the ability to search Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.
As a stand-alone client for Twitter, Friends falls a little short, missing the ability to read and reply to Direct Messages. Also, as OCD Twitter users we miss having post time and date details in our timeline and being able to fully load gaps in the timeline when it’s been several hours since we last checked Twitter, which can be done in the official Twitter app.
When it comes to Facebook, you won’t be able to check in or use Facebook Chat within Friends.
Overall, we like Friends and think it’s a great app to stay on top of your social networks. We can’t say that we’ll be doing away with the individual Facebook and Twitter apps on our iPhones in favor of it but with a few feature additions, that could change.
Friends is currently on sale for a limited time, down to $.99 from its regular price of $2.99.