A very peculiar category of iOS app has begun to take off recently. These aren’t just any social networking apps, rather they seem to create a social network out of previous socialization. Public and Talkshow are apps that let you broadcast your text-based conversation with other people to an audience. Think of it like Periscope, but without any visuals or audio.
Talkshow was first on the scene, but Public is getting attention of its own for being the new contender. Do these apps have any practical purpose and if so, which one is superior?
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Subtle, But Important Differences
If you were to download both Talkshow and Public, at first glance you’d think they were just copycats of each other. However, there are some differences in the features of both apps that let them stand out in terms of functionality.
The premise of both is this: a person can “host” a public conversation and invite co-hosts to join in and contribute. Meanwhile, anyone who isn’t a co-host can view the conversation and follow along with what’s being said, but can’t participate without permission. How viewers get permission is where Talkshow and Public take different directions.
In Talkshow, a viewer that wants to participate in a conversation either needs to be a host, a co-host or send a request to become a co-host for that chat. From there it’s up to the host to decide to grant permission.
In Public, it’s also imperative that you request to be a host (it’s called a “guest” in Public) to fully participate, but you can also send something in advanced. If you choose to ask a question, write a message or send a photo/video to the conversation, any current participant can see it and choose to publish it live too — without explicitly granting you guest privileges. With this method, Public allows for more diverse conversation and more opportunity for viewers to jump in while still giving the guests tight control.
Tip: Public users can also add regular comments to the conversation that appear in a separate window toward the bottom so as to not obstruct the main chat.
No rule or method is better than the other, but your preference probably depends on your hosting to viewing ratio and how much power you think outsiders should have.
The Community Factor
Talkshow seems to have a more lively, more professional and just overall larger community of users. After all, it did land in the App Store first. Many publications use Talkshow to connect with readers or live blog events, while other members just use it for insightful dialogue.
Public, from what I’m observed, is compromised mostly of younger people discussing various topics with more playfulness and banter. Again, that’s not a bad thing, just apparently different.
Both Talkshow and Public have decent designs with their own quirks. Signing up for Public was way easier than signing up for Talkshow since it required significantly less steps to jump into the app and get started. Oddly enough, once the sign-up process was complete, I found Talkshow to be the easier of the two to use. It has a tab to explore popular conversations and search for them, a tab solely for the conversations you follow, plus an area for your notifications and profile.
Public gets a bit convoluted once you’ve signed in. Several conversations are live-updating in front of you at once plus there are banners at the top and just too much insignificant color everywhere. The tabs are streamlined and it’s simple enough to start a conversation (tap the Create New Chat icon at the top right) but it’s still harder to navigate than Talkshow. The UI reminds me a bit of Peach.
Talkshow takes the cake even if only by a small margin. It has a larger community, better design and generally more insightful discussions. It may not be as easy to join a conversation as it is in Public, but the option for request is there to give it a shot.
If you’re really looking to get your message out there, Talkshow just seems to be the better place to do it.