MeWe – the first week with Android

MeWe. The, in my opinion, closer G+ alternative in general if choosing between this or Diaspora. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better on all counts, just that it mimics more the G+ I’ve grown accustomed to.

When I first signed up to MeWe I was surprised by the lack of content showing up. Granted, I was in the mobile app and not the website, so things might have been different had I gone through the website.

I actually went and checked again on my phone, just to see if there was anything worth noting that would be different from the website. It just so happened that the UI is so different, that I took the time to take screenshots of at least 80% of the onboarding process to have something to compare to! So, you get even more content to read now (yay…?)

Android onboarding and first impressions

This almost became somewhat of a second unboxing experience for me, because I found the first round being slightly confusing, that I had forgotten half of what it was like.

When you fire up the Android MeWe app for the first time you get to choose between creating an account or logging in. I didn’t take a screenshot of that, because you can easily just install the app and launch it to see what it’s like.

Passing that step by having logged in, you’re greeted with the following screen:

Screenshot of MeWe dialog with thinking hand, the phrase "Here's what to do next" and multiple choices of buttons

You get a few options to guide you on your way to happiness, engagement, videogame death, progressing in the app. The topmost one says “Invite your friends”, but since none of my personal, in real life friends, have any clue as to what MeWe is, and the Internet Of Friends are using direct links to their profiles, I’m going for the second option: “Explore Open Groups”. A thing to point out here; When you choose something out of the list of buttons presented to you, this dialogue is forever gone as far as I can tell. So you need to figure out how to get to the other options by yourself from here on.

Exploring groups

The Explore Open Groups button will get you here:

This is pretty straightforward; browse through the list of groups presented and choose one that you fancy. I chose MeWe Favorites because I was curious about what they curated.

A handful of choices show up, I can’t really tell what the criteria is for getting added to this group, but they’re non-controversial, covering dogs, cats, tech and coffee maker talk.

I went for the Awesome gifs group, because 1) it was at the top, and 2) they’re claiming awesome gifs so there’s gotta be something good in there, right? I got nothing to lose. 🙂

What surprised me was the following screen:

I assumed joining would be a similar experience to following something on G+; click a button, and now you’re getting access to content.

However, you get two questions that you should answer, and while I get that they’re younger in cheek, they’re still strange things to ask, if the answers don’t mean anything. Maybe they’re for preventing spam bots or something, I have no clue.

So I just answered “yes” and “no”, because I couldn’t be bothered thinking up anything witty. I guess that makes me not-awesome, but I couldn’t be bothered.

Now, what happened after I replied to the questions was the following:

I will very much assume this isn’t the fault of Awesome gifs team of Awesome, but instead the MeWe UX team’s. Throwing two models at you on top of eachother is just silly. They could have done a something better to improve this strange behaviour. I didn’t dig into the top most one, because I already knew how to navigate within.

So, I dismiss the top one and have the bottom one challenging me with:

It’s not easy getting into (or rather what I’d prefer instead; just following) a group, is it?

I skipped writing anything, even though I was unsure if it was a requirement. Come to think of it, it’s really vague whether or not any of these require an answer or type-in. But it didn’t seem to mind when I just tapped “Next”.

I’m in! And here’s what it looks like!:

Oooof. Seems as if this group have had their fair share of spam/lewdness/non-solicited matchmaking and other things to have to put up two huge warning signs as their first pinned post! Unfortunately, it certainly doesn’t make for an inviting first look into a group.

So, this was a small intro to what joining a group could look like in MeWe’s current incarnation of the Android app.

Exploring the Home tab

There are a couple more tabs at the bottom that could be worth a short mention; the Home tab:

This is where your connected friends’ stuff end up. The more you connect with, the busier this tab will be, showing content and post of what they share.

Exploring the Communities tab

Another one is the Communities tab:

Some of you hawk-eyed people may notice that the “Awesome gifs” group is back! That’s because the “Communities” tab contain the groups you’re a part of. It also holds a list of suggestions for other groups you might want to browse through, or join.

Exploring the Chats tab

And lastly, for this post, there’s the Chats tab:

Chats are areas in which either your connections converse with you directly, or it’s connected to a group, which means messages are shared with multiple people in that same group. Not much to it than that; if you’ve used any kind of messaging/chat app before, this isn’t any news to you.

Wrap-up

First off, the experience in general isn’t a disaster. There are bits and bobs that could do with a bit more work, but it’s not difficult navigation. But it is different compared to Google+. That may not come as a surprise because it isn’t self-proclaimed to be a Google+ competitor or replacement. But it is very much talked about as a replacement from Google+ refugees, and as such there’s got to be something with this that make it so similar.

I agree that there’s an aura of Google+ in MeWe; there are groupings and the app isn’t very different from Google+ in terms of navigation. But there aren’t that many more similarities, and the app is super obnoxious (mostly due to difficult notification settings) in comparison. Here’s a list of procons that I’ve experienced having used MeWe for a week or two:

++

  • There is an app
  • The app feels Google+-familiar
  • Navigating within the app is fairly easy

– –

  • There is no central stream; every tab has its own purpose, which effectively split up the content
  • Notifications and their settings are difficult and confusing to figure out
  • You can’t follow anything; you either connect to another user or join a group
  • You can’t make collections for others to follow; instead you make a group, in which people will have to join to gain access to
  • You can’t preview a group’s content
  • The website and Android app are vastly different in their UX
  • No way to edit posts or comments (this is one of the top most frustrating things)

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