Last night, I was browsing the App Store (as usual) when I came across, Spout by Australian developer Collect3. On first impressions and looking at the screenshots provided, I didn’t really get what the app could do. The screenshots didn’t seem to show anything other than type on a number of different backgrounds. After taking the plunge though and playing around with Spout for a few seconds, I understood exactly what the app had been designed for – and, as I expressed openly via Twitter (@razorianfly) last night … I absolutely love it.
Spout is a new way to read the latest news, tweets, messages and comments which enter your social network. In short, Spout displays any number of these types of information in a cool and unique way, with the app’s view panning the entire tweet, message or comment, before moving to the next. Each piece of information is displayed unique to itself, with various sizes of typeface and colour picked out for each.
In their words:
Words spill onto your device, swirling, twisting, and scrolling across your screen, pooling in the centre momentarily, like a leaf on a pond, before being whisked away as new social messages pour in. Then, poke the surface and a built-in web browser takes you up-stream to the source, without leaving the tranquil and hypnotic Spout app.
Jump into the settings in-app though and you’ll find a number of configuration options. The first and most obvious is connection of your social accounts. You can choose to connect your Twitter or Facebook account and even have Spout look for and drag back results of a Twitter search term or specific user. Alongside this you also have the option to add your entire RSS feed collection to Spout by adding your Google Reader account. Once you’ve got all your accounts setup just prop up your iPhone, sit back and watch your entire social life fill the screen, messages, by tweet, by blog post, by comment.
This isn’t a Twitter client. You can’t send tweets, reply or re-tweet directly from Spout. Nor can you reply or like that video you just saw Mark post on Facebook. But Spout isn’t meant to be able to do any of this. Spout is a viewing window into social life for the typography lover.
Returning to settings you’ll find a number of other options, including a choice of 9 different themes you can use to display your feeds. You can also set the method by which items are displayed, with choices including; Cycle – this mode will show each item after the next. If a new item becomes available it will be shown during the cycle, Latest – this mode will show only the latest items and will remain on the current item until a new item is available, and Random – this mode will use the interval settings to show an item based on that interval. Setting the Minimum Display Time will control how long an item stays on screen until the next one is ushered in. You can also change the speed by which the words which make up an item fly in, with ‘Fast’ almost unreadable until the full view of the item is displayed at the end of the animation.
If you’re using Spout as a view-only Twitter client, you can choose to show just the person’s Twitter handle on an item, Twitter handle and avatar, just their avatar (if you know your followers well) or no visual link at all to the person who originally created that item (cleaner). Finally, you can choose to show the time each item was created and posted within your social sphere, as well as showing photos.
Item you’re viewing contain a hyperlink? – Spout has its own build in pop-over browser, meaning you don’t have to leave Spout to view what your friends are tweeting about, posting on Facebook or publishing to their blogs.
My only caveat with Spout is that the background images which make up the nine themes available haven’t been optimized for Retina display. Spout is universal, supporting iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, and will set you back just 59p/$0.99.