Decentralized social network Mastodon now has an official iPhone app. The non-profit behind Mastodon launched the app on iOS today, in addition to an existing web version and several third-party apps for iOS, Android and other platforms. The app is free and offers a similar feature set to Mastodon’s core service, although it doesn’t include Mastodon’s broad local and federated timelines.
Mastodon describes the app as particularly focused on getting new users on board with the non-traditional social platform. As we outlined earlier, Mastodon is similar to Twitter, but built around it independently managed communities (and the ActivityPub protocol) instead of one central network. You can create your account in a community of your choice while also following and messaging people in other communities. It’s an unusual design among modern social platforms, and offering an official iOS access point could help people get more flexible about it. CEO Eugen Rochko confirmed plans for a similar Android app, but there is no timeline for its release.
Mastodon’s iOS app supports features like polls and filters for sensitive content, and the app page subtly highlights its differences from larger services like Twitter by calling Mastodon’s “ad-free, chronological timeline.” As mentioned above, however, you would not find a section for local and federated timelines – Mastodon’s fire hose of all public posts from your home community and the communities of people associated with it respectively.
Rochko tells The edge that those timelines were a “sub-optimal” way to discover new content, and excluding them also reduced the potential for conflict with Apple, forcing some social networks to limit what users can find through their apps. (For example, Reddit’s iOS app makes you sign up for NSFW content over the web.) For another feature set, you can keep using one of the existing iOS apps — or just log in over the web.