This is not a review, but I wanted to jot down some notes after a few days in a new app that I’m enjoying very much: Wavelength Messenger. You might like to read John Gruber’s post for details.
My wife believes that I have some kind of processing disorder that causes me to quickly become overwhelmed by too much simultaneous input. She discovered this after several visits to the local Costco. After a few minutes in a busy Costco, I sort of shut down and become surly. I can only think about leaving. I’m no fun in a Costco.
This disorder is probably why I dislike Discord. A few minutes in a busy Discord server and my eyes sort of glaze over the same way they do in a Costco. I can’t wait to get out of there.
I prefer old-fashioned web forums. Forums are calm. Even busy ones. People can gather around a topic, post threads, and then discuss them, in context, at their leisure. I can find a topic, then easily scan the whole conversation. Discourse does a great job of this. Discord recently added forum-like features, but they feel tacked on and not that different from the main areas.
When I’m visiting a product’s website and see a link to “Community”, I cross my fingers, hoping that the link leads to a Discourse forum and not a Discord server.
Forums, however, can feel a little distant. Impersonal. It’s a challenge to find a good balance between real-time chat and more leisurely forums.
What about Slack? I’ve used Slack since the beginning. Loved it. But it feels heavy. The macOS “app” still uses too much juice and the web app feels janky. Switching between Slack workspaces is cumbersome and it makes me feel too far away from the workspaces I’m not currently in. Slack channels aren’t lightweight enough to use as threads, and Slack’s threads still feel like the place conversations go to die.
Wavelength balances all this nicely. I can see every group I’m in, and which ones have new activity. I can quickly pop in and join the conversation threads I’m interested in. Creating a new thread doesn’t feel like a big deal the way it does in forums. Although so far in a few groups everyone is just using one long thread, so we’ll see how that plays out.
The AI integration feels trendy, but I’ve been surprised at how often I’ve used it. It’s handy having AI right there in my messaging app.
The big thing missing for me is the ability to search messages. I understand that end-to-end encryption creates challenges around searching, but if they can manage to magically move thread history from peer to peer, I bet they can manage search. We’re going to need it.
Wavelength is a good-looking, good-feeling app that is good at group discussions. I like it.