First Impressions of Bluesky's Brand New iOS App
Created when Jack Dorsey was CEO of Twitter, Bluesky is a kind of social network reimagined as an open protocol, called AT Protocol.
An app for iOS was released this week, giving the public the first taste of what the developers — who at some point in the past emancipated themselves from Twitter — are up to.
For now, access to Bluesky is by limited invitation only. I got one and now tell you what this “blue sky” alternative to Twitter is like.
Bluesky’s app is a sort of Twitter reduced to the bare minimum needed for the basic social networking experience.
In some areas, such as the welcome screen, it is evident that it is a half-baked thing at this point, still lacking the polish that is expected from finished, ready for the general public apps.
After registration, which, I repeat, only works for those who have an invitation, what is revealed is a pretty forgettable social networking experience along the lines of Twitter:
- There are only three tabs: main feed, search, and notifications.
- Search is only for contacts, it doesn’t work for posts/content, but it does display some posts when accessed under the label “Recently, on Bluesky…”
- There is a floating button to new posts — which can be up to 256 characters long.
- It’s possible to upload images.
- The settings are null, only allowing you to log in and manage multiple profiles.
As for content, the first few hours of Bluesky presented me with lots of posts and “RTs” from Jay Graber, CEO of Bluesky, posts from Brazilians, and pictures of the blue sky.
A word about protocols
An important detail of Bluesky is the username. Mine, for example, became
ghedin.bsky.social. The part after the first period is a domain.
Yes, you have seen this: it is a similar structure to Mastodon, which is based on another open/decentralized protocol, ActivityPub.
Like Mastodon, you will be able to install Bluesky on different servers and the user will have power over their data, to migrate to another server/instance leaving nothing behind.
Bluesky CEO Jay Graber, in announcing the “private beta” program, listed the features the team intends to highlight in the coming months:
- Domain names as usernames & account portability;
- Algorithmic choice & custom feeds;
- Composable moderation & reputation systems.
The goal of the Bluskey app is more to be a proof of concept than anything else.
In announcing Bluesky’s private beta, Graber said that:
We expect the app to serve as a reference client for developers to learn how to build on atproto, as well as a landing place for users to see how a decentralized social app can be pleasant to use, customizable, performant, and safe.
The mastodon in the room
All this would be revolutionary if we didn’t already have Mastodon. The promises of both ActivityPub and AT Protocol are very similar, and ActivityPub has the advantage of being a de facto standard and not being owned by a private company.
Bluesky’s app is rudimentary, but functional. Even though it works differently, it reminds a lot of Domus, the one based on Nostr, another open protocol.
It is too soon to say what Bluesky is about. The first impression is… ok? Congratulations, that’s a nice you have there, but why someone would choose it over Mastodon/ActivityPub, or even over Twitter, is the big question still unanswered.
Click here to download Bluesky for iOS. To get on the waiting list for an invite, just leave your email address on the official site.