With many looking at Mastodon as a potential replacement for their favorite social network, here are some of the best apps for Mastodon available to download on Android.
In case you’re not familiar with Mastodon, it’s an open source social media platform designed to be “federated”. The (perhaps over)simplified version is that unlike traditional networks like Twitter where one entity controls data, moderation and more, there are many instances of Mastodon, all of which are able to interact with each other.
If you wanted, you could host your own Mastodon instance on your own server and domain, while still connecting to everyone else. However, most people will simply want to select an existing Mastodon instance and start making “toots” – yes, that’s what they’re actually called. Just as birds ‘twitter’, elephants/mastodons ‘hoot’.
No matter which instance of Mastodon you want to use, there are tons of apps available on Android to get you started with your new social network. Some apps will even help you choose an instance and get registered for it. Even better, unlike some platforms like Twitter that restrict some features to the official app, Mastodon’s open source code ensures that even third-party apps can be as good as the official one. So let’s dive in, shall we?
Best Mastodon Apps for Android
You can’t go wrong with the official Mastodon app for Android, developed by Mastodon GmbH. Despite being created by the maintainers of the original Mastodon.social server, the app comes loaded with a list of other public instances you can join, divided into relevant categories.
The feed layout is clean and simple, with a simple chronological timeline. Meanwhile, the search tab offers a look at the most popular hashtags, news posts and more. The notification layout can be a bit clunky, making it a bit more difficult to scroll through them all if you get too many at once, but some may appreciate having the extra detail without having to navigate to another page.
You don’t need to download a full-fat native app to have the Mastodon experience on your Android phone. Each Mastodon instance’s website comes with the ability to be installed as a Progressive Web App (or PWA).
The layout on phones is a bit awkward, opting for a full-height navigation rail on the right side, which takes away some screen real estate from the post stream. Part of this is because the Mastodon PWA surprisingly has some extra features that the native Android app doesn’t. For example, there is a dedicated tab for instant messages, as well as one that provides a live timeline for each posts made by every user of almost every Mastodon instance.
However, one disadvantage of PWA is that you must already have selected an instance and registered an account before you can best use the app. Beyond that, if your chosen instance is having issues, you may find that the PWA loads noticeably slowly.
To install Mastodon PWA on your phone, open the preferred instance of Chrome for Android. Once it’s loaded, tap the three-dot menu button in Chrome and select “Install App.” This will add a Mastodon icon to your home screen and app drawer.
Being the most popular third-party Mastodon app for Android, Tusky greatly expands the features of the official app while maintaining a clean and friendly design. Even better, Tusky manages to be free and open source, maintained by a community of developers.
Tusky’s timeline view is simple and should feel familiar to anyone who has used social media. Where the app really shines is in its extra features like scheduled posts, a must for social media account managers.
While Tusky is a free app, available through the Play Store and F-Droid, it is supported through contributions from the community. You can donate to keep Tusky free and give back to the developers who invest their time in making it.
The recent rise in popularity of Mastodon comes from many users who have migrated away from having a Twitter account. Of course, switching platforms can be difficult, as you have to rebuild your followers and also keep up with your friends who haven’t made the leap to Mastodon.
That’s where Twidere comes into the picture. The free Android app is capable of connecting to both Twitter and one or more Mastodon instances. By doing so, you can access the combined timelines of new tweets from those you follow on Twitter and new tots from Mastodon.
The overall experience and design of Twidere isn’t as refined as some of the other options, but it’s currently one of the only Android apps that seamlessly combines Mastodon and Twitter. You can even draft a new post to be shared simultaneously on both platforms, making it easy to keep your feeds in sync.
The developers of Twidere are working on a successor app that is meant to overhaul the design, Twidere X, but in our testing the app is currently unable to log into any of the services properly.
Fedilab is the only “paid” app on our list today, coming in at $2.49 on the Google Play Store. However, we put “paid” in quotes as Fedilab is still a fully open source application, available to download for free from F-Droid, and the adventurous can build the app from source. The $2.49 price in the Play Store is only for added convenience and to support the development of the app.
The design of the Fedilab isn’t the smoothest or cleanest option on this list, but the full functionality of the Mastodon is available. Fedilab is also one of the few Android apps available today that helps you choose a Mastodon instance to create a new account, perfect for those just starting out.
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