Reddit is great; the official Reddit app is not! Although Reddit team is pushing hard to come up with a hybrid design language that they can unify the user experiences between iOS and Android, until now they’ve only managed to deliver a buggy and sluggish official app. The official app is young and bold, and it is going to be the go-to app for most people. But soon, it will be the next official Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest apps that everyone hates but have to use because it delivers the first-hand experience and it gets exclusive features that no other app will be allowed to deliver. It will serve you ads, and track you as other big guys will do.
Like the early age of the official Twitter app, there are still many excellent third-party apps available for Reddit. In the rest of this text, I’ll list a few fantastic Reddit clients available on iOS as an alternative to official Reddit for iOS. I do not expect many of them last any longer as I am sure Reddit team would not like them very much, as YouTube didn’t like ProTube or Twitter doesn’t like TweetBot!
Apollo for Reddit — A Client for Everyone, Especially Readers/Writers
Apollo is maybe the youngest Reddit client on iOS, but it’s the purest of them. The core experience is intuitive and straightforward. The developer inherited a lot from the behavior of default iOS apps, and he followed the Apple HUD very closely. As a result, you immediately feel like that you know the app and every interaction hidden in it. You don’t need to learn it. Colors and gestures are familiar. They act and feel similar to how they feel in Mail or Notes app. A subtle haptic feedback is rewarding every little interaction within the app; this makes upvoting even more rewarding!
Apollo is essentially Free. The only feature that is being locked behind an IAP (2.99$/3.99€), is the ability to post on Reddit, everything else is free. The reason being that the writing experience in Apollo is genuinely different. Apollo provides a feature-rich Markdown environment for posting long and elaborate posts on Reddit. It offers a nice and clean preview and all the other features that you’d expect from a Markdown editor. That’s why I think Apollo is more appealing to Reddit users who like to write long posts. The Markdown editor shines even more on the iPad where you get more room for advanced features, similar to 1Writer or iA Writer.
Apollo is still a very young client although it is being developed for more than three years before it is being released. The app feels polished and snappy, but it needs more time to mature. In comparison to older apps, Apollo misses some important features as well, namely the Gallery View. Fortunately, the developer is actively communicating with users and he is quite open about the roadmap and his decisions.
Beam for Reddit — A Client for Viewers
Beam, as their developers described, it’s a client built to browse Reddit. It emphasizes on the browsing experience more than anything else. The Media View, from the Display Pack (IAP, 1.99$/2.29€), provides a handful of options for controlling the way you see Reddit contents especially if it consists of photos. Beam’s user interface is minimal and clean, and the user experience is familiar and smooth. In comparison to Apollo, you’ll find it less iOS-friendly but still very close.
Overall, Beam is a great and modern Reddit client, I prefer it over Apollo when it comes to media. Another great thing about Beam is its excellent iPad app. The Display Pack especially shines on the iPad where you get bigger thumbnails and larger photos.
Update, Jan 4, 2018: Both Display and Identity Packs are now free!
As a side note, Beam is now open-source! This is a great news as it hopefully pushes the development forward and it would be an excellent example for interested developers.
Readder for Reddit — Quiet but Powerful Client
Readder is a relatively young client too. It was maybe the first client which has tried to look and feel native to the iOS platform. The developer has included many powerful features in the client, namely a very flexible viewing experience. Basically, you can choose to view every list — subreddit, friends posts, users posts, … — in many different layouts such as List, Cards, Magazine, Waterfall, Mosaic, Full Screen, or Text. In this sense, Readder offers a more powerful version of Beam’s Display Pack for free. Readder also remembers your choices for each list; therefore you can customize every subreddit or users as you like.
I feel Readder is the middle ground between Apollo, Beam and Narwhal, it is designed to be very powerful yet familiar. The app feels like an iOS app. You’ll find the interactions smooth, gestures are customizable but maybe not as intuitive as Apollo out of the box. On the other hand, the navigation between posts and subreddit are much easier and faster than the Apollo or Beam. There is a quick access sidebar — similar to narwhal — that you can access by swiping from the left-side of the screen to access your subreddits list, searches, or filters.
As much as I like Readder and still use it occasionally, it falls short behind Apollo when it comes to the user experience. The attention to detail in Apollo makes Readder as it is developed in a rush. It’s not that Readder is buggy or unstable, it’s the final polish that is missing. There are many customization options, in fact, Readder can be customized to look and feel like Apollo. That’s how powerful and flexible the Readder is. I think the developer needs to rethink the core experience of the app, maybe find a better set of default options.
Readder offers a Pro package for 2.99$/3,49€ and for an extra 1$/1€ you can browse Reddit on your Apple TV. Readder iPad app is very well-designed and powerful as well.
Monochrome for Reddit — Minimalist Reddit Client
Monochrome is a very minimal Reddit client. It’s yet again another attempt to write a native Reddit client for iOS. It shares a lot of design elements with the Apollo, but it is less expressive. You cannot collapse comments or posts, there is no Mediaview or customization for subreddits, also there is no swipe to upvote/downvote.
Monochrome is a monolithic Reddit client designed to feel good. It’s how Apple would design a Reddit client: Simple, Clean with barely any customizations that just works! Monochrome offers a Pro package for 1.99$/2.29€ which adds Dark Interface, 3D Touch, Swipe to Collapse, and support for Multiple Accounts.
narwhal for reddit — The Powerhouse
The narwhal for reddit was AlienBlue’s rival before Reddit discontinues it, and now it’s the most flexible, powerful and mature Reddit client for iOS. The user interface is clean, but it is old-fashioned! Comments are somewhat cramped together, much like the Reddit website, but it works, and it has everything that you could wish for! You can even customize the threshold of the swiping. You have control over everything!
As much as I don’t like the narwhal, it is a great and powerful Reddit client. I personally cannot use it, as the interactions are very different from what I usually expect from a native iOS app. I think you should give narwhal a try and see if you can live with it. This is even harder now with Apollo being so close to perfect, design-wise.
Narwhal is essentially free; you only pay 3,99$/4,49€ if you want to get rid of the advertisements. Narwhal also offers an iPad app which is pretty good. The iPad experience is similar to Readder as it offers two panels navigation.
As a side note, narwhal is not the most updated app when it comes to adopting new iOS features. For instance, it doesn’t fully support Safari View Controller; therefore, you don’t get login auto-fill, or 1Password helper.
Antenna Client for Reddit — Another Powerhouse
Antenna is very similar to the narwhal. It looks even more old-fashioned. There are tons of customization you can have. It also offers the thumbnail view for subreddits with a lot of photos. However, the user interface and interactions feel very old and unfamiliar. After all, these are among the very first Reddit clients for iOS, and they are originating from pre- iOS 7 era where apps were more free to define their interactions. For instance, since before iOS 7 the swipe from the left of the screen — to go back — didn’t exist, most apps like Antenna implement a variant of it where they brought you to the previous view by swiping to the right from everywhere in the screen. As a result, the hamburger-menu has to go to the right which is not what you expect most of the time. These are not necessarily bad design decisions, and if you are used to them then it is perfect, but for new iOS users, these for sure seems odd.
Antenna, in comparison to narwhal, puts most features behind the paywall. For 2.99$/3.49€, you’ll be able to post, hide posts, use Night Mode, filter subreddit and customize the app. Antenna’s iPad app works fine, and I think it is the closest experience to Reddit website that you can ask for!
Antenna is slightly faster with supporting new and modern iOS features than the narwhal, but it is still slow compared to more modern Reddit clients.
Reddit for iOS — A Client for the Rest
Finally, there is the Official Reddit for iOS. The official client is very young, but it is evolving very fast. I am not the fan of its design language as developers decided to go for a hybrid design that suppose to feel familiar both on iOS and Android. I personally think it’s a terrible idea since at the end you’ll end up forcing your users to obey your rules — which they will — and force your developers to bend the native APIs and UX to achieve something half perfect.
The official Reddit for iOS app is not a terrible app. It will satisfy a lot of users, and many people love and will love it. It will be the only app to use after a while, unfortunately.
I hope I managed to give an overview of the state of Reddit clients on iOS. I also hope that Reddit doesn’t follow Twitter or Tumblr path to the oblivion!
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