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Stack Exchange for Android is here!

This mobile thing will never last, right? We figured if we waited long enough, this whole “mobile application” thing would blow over and everything would go back to the way it used to be. You know, when phones were for calling people, and computers were for typing long, angry rants about how things aren’t the way they used to be.

In retrospect, we may have misread that one a bit. It turns out that even for Stack Exchange mobile is eating the world.

So today we’re excited to announce that Stack Exchange for Android is finally available for download on the Google Play store, for Android phones version 4.0 (ICS) and up:


Get it on Google Play

What? You’re an iPhone user? Don’t worry, the iPhone alpha is coming soon, probably in the next six to eight weeks. In fact, you can sign up for the iPhone alpha starting today . We’ll be inviting people in waves on a first-come, first-served basis over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, keep reading to find out what’s new in the app.

One Feed to rule them all

Translating Stack Exchange to mobile was… tricky. We have over 110 communities in the Stack Exchange network. On the web they exist as mostly separate sites. We’re pretty new to mobile development, but we felt that releasing 110 mobile apps was probably not the right approach.

That meant we had to create an entirely new experience, one that didn’t exist on the web. A single, central location where you can check in on everything relevant to you across the network, whether you participate on one site or many. We dubbed it (not terribly creatively) “The Feed”. Here’s what it looks like:

This is a completely new feature for Stack Exchange. It includes:

  • Customized recommendations of questions you can answer, based on the sites and tags you participate in
  • Interesting questions tailored to your interests that will learn from your activity and get better over time
  • Updates when you get upvoted or your answers get accepted, so you can feel good about helping others wherever you are
  • All your replies (answers, comments, chat messages, etc.) in one easy timeline
  • Community events, blog posts, and even recommended jobs for you from Careers

The Feed scales to your activity: if you’re only participate on one site, it’ll show you mostly questions from that site. If you participate on many, you’ll see all your updates in one convenient place.

Notifications

We’ve had instant notifications of replies on the site for a while, but now you can take them with you wherever you go. You’ll get notified anytime you would get an inbox message on Stack Exchange, which includes answers, comments, chat replies, and more.

Don’t want those notifications? You can easily turn them on and off via settings, including whether they make noise or vibrate. You can even set quiet hours so you don’t get woken in the middle of the night.

Search, Ask, Answer, Comment, and Vote

And, of course, all the major things you can do on Stack Exchange are fully supported on the app: you can search for questions, ask or answer new questions, leave comments, vote, and even flag or vote to close.

If you want, you can configure your phone to automatically open the app when clicking URLs on websites to make getting into the app even easier.

Why Android first? What about iPhone?

We set out to create a fully native experience for each platform. That meant designing the app twice, once for each platform, to make sure it felt right to users of each. We started with Android mostly because we’re new to mobile, and the Google Play Store process is more forgiving if we make mistakes!

If you’re an iPhone user, sign up for the iPhone alpha today! We’ll start inviting alpha testers soon, and hope to launch the iPhone app in a few short months.

What about tablet / chat / missing feature X?

This is just the first version, and we plan to keep working on both of the apps in parallel. A tablet optimized version of the app is next, and then we’ll start adding in missing features based on what you tell us we’re missing. So if there’s something you’d like to see in the app, let us know on Meta under the ‘android-app’ tag.

Let us know how we’re doing

This is still a work in progress! Take the app for a spin and let us know what you think on meta. We’ll be working hard to keep improving it over the coming weeks and months. So download it today!


Get it on Google Play

Filed under announcement, mobile

98 Comments

CodingGorilla Jan 27 2014

Any chance we can get this on the Kindle store for the Kindle Fire as well?

Chaim Brykman Jan 27 2014

When installing the app, it requests permissions to access my Phonebook.

Why do you need access to my Phonebook?

Chris Jan 27 2014

@Chaim: NSA asked for it.

Kasra Rahjerdi Jan 27 2014

@Chaim Here’s a list of every permission we request and the reasoning behind it: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/217345/what-are-the-permissions-the-android-app-needs-including-phone-call-ones/217378#217378

The “phonebook” permission is really “read phone status and identity” which is really badly named for what it does. Details are in the link.

It’s quite spiffy. Would be cool if it could also alert on blog announcement posts such as this one.

Kasra Rahjerdi Jan 27 2014

@JoshDM community bulletins are in the app, so when this posts get turned into one (*cough* *cough*) it’ll pop up in the feed.

Chris Jan 27 2014

@Kasra: See http://android-developers.blogspot.de/2011/03/identifying-app-installations.html for other ways to identify an installation. The phone id is only needed if you want to track a device across apps. For example if you want to allow ad partners to create a full profile of your users, so that they know what software you like, or movies, or panties…

Karl Bielefeldt Jan 27 2014

Darn. Requires ICS or higher. Just one more reason to upgrade my phone. Looking forward to trying it on my tablet tonight, though.

And what about windows?

Looking forward to getting an iPhone and iPad version.

Steve Jan 27 2014

Yeah, Europe need WinPhone version

Why Android first? What about iPhone?

We set out to create a fully native experience for each platform. That meant designing the app twice, once for each platform, to make sure it felt right to users of each. We started with Android mostly because we’re new to mobile, and the Google Play Store process is more forgiving if we make mistakes!

Well, that and Android is the bigger market, has been gaining huge amounts of market share in the last few years while iOS has been losing it, and is far more friendly to developers in general, who are still the core of StackExchange despite the 120 communities. ;)

The only question I’d ask along those lines is, why even bother with an iOS version?

Pekka Jan 27 2014

I recognize the mobile boom, but I don’t really get it. Browsing a web site and answering questions on a *phone?* There are few everyday experiences I find more torturous and pointless, and I’ve tried.

Anyway, great work! The app looks beautiful and nice to use. I’m sure some of the mobile features will trickle back to the default site over time.

I’d be happy to be an alpha user on the iPad once that comes up.

Benjamin Perdomo Jan 27 2014

Windows Phone please :)

Ted Bell Jan 27 2014

Google Play only? Any plans to release the .apk, or put it on a third-party market like FDroid or the Amazon App Store?

Looks like a great app but I’m running Android without any Google services and have no way to download it.

Downloaded..Great Stuff..{Upvote}..Cheers..:)

And now for the big question… any chance the source code will eventually be released? Also, this app uses an undocumented version of the Stack Exchange API (2.2). Any chance we’ll hear an announcement about that soon too?

Kevin Montrose Jan 27 2014

I doubt we’ll open source the app, there are too many private calls for it to be useful I suspect. Some libraries might get released though.

We are dog-fooding API version 2.2 for all the public functionality. Expect an announcement in the next couple of weeks, it’s pretty close to finished in my opinion.

Rekire Jan 27 2014

Great work, but why did you write your blog post so late? I was yesterday able to write the first comment about your app.

Kevin Montrose Jan 27 2014

@Rekire we soft launched to all our existing beta users. It doesn’t really matter to us if some folks got early access, and a soft launch let us watch for any show stoppers.

John Schroedl Jan 27 2014

Windows Phone Requests++;

Did you guys use the Xamarin product to write these apps, or each in their native language?

Kevin Montrose Jan 27 2014

@john Each is native. Naturally there’s a lot of shared function in the backend, which is all .NET.

Kasra Rahjerdi Jan 27 2014

@Chris the READ_PHONE_STATE permission (alongside the GET_TASKS) permission are both removed for version 1.0.2 (not out yet).

Shadow Wizard Jan 27 2014

Awesome job, now looking forward for the iOS app! :)

At last… the Gods gave us a toy for our crusades. Thanks – love it!

As already said:

Looks like a great app but I’m running Android without any Google services and have no way to download it.

Simon Whitehead Jan 27 2014

Really slick. I like it. Nice work to all involved.

Phil H Jan 27 2014

+1 to all above. I just downloaded the 3rd party SOClient a couple days ago and said to myself “they’ve got to be working on something better”… thanks to the team!

Sam Wise Jan 27 2014

Surprised you guys didn’t use Xamarin.

Jordan K Jan 27 2014

Does windows not matter to you? A lot of people use Windows Phone and Windows 8

The app looks great…

(On a side note: you get a feeling for how much SE has messed with your head when you find yourself scrolling to the top of the blog post to upvote. :P)

What about WP / WS versions? Should we start doing them by self or wait when you’ll release them?

Android first?

Like the Windows server strategy, a bit of a disappointing choice of platform.

Murillo Jan 27 2014

Another upvote for a Windows Phone version.

Two questions…

Why not allow Froyo/gingerbread phones? Many still prefer/use those devices – or is the app designed more for tablets?

Also, are you guys going to post this in F-Droid repository for non Google users?

TonyHo Jan 27 2014

We haven’t the google play in China. So please help release the apk to be downloaded in other place as well.

Great experience in android guys! well done.
But android needs a tablet optimized version for nexus 7, nexus 10, etc…
I think most people will do a quick read of whatever in the community, but will go to their tab (if any) for real use of the app.

Any chance for stack-exchange app for Nokia S40 and S60 mobile operating systems?

I am still using one of them ! :(

TonyHo Jan 27 2014

I found this site http://apps.evozi.com/apk-downloader/ would help download the apk from GooglePlay.
But I can’t login in stack exchange using the google account in Android client apk login page.

Chris Jan 27 2014

@Kasra: Thanks, great move. Developers often don’t thing about removing unnecessary permissions. Thumbs up!

ravik Jan 27 2014

why I can’t see the math symbols at MSE?

No social sharing plugin on this blog??

Nice work, guys!

I posted a few thoughts on things I think could be improved: https://chrisdown.name/2014/01/28/comments-on-the-new-stack-exchange-android-app.html

This first public release is very usable, though. Thanks a lot!

Pete Stensones Jan 28 2014

I second the WP8 requests; bring it!

Michael Jan 28 2014

Good start! A WP8 version would be nice though.

This app is totally useful for me. I often want to follow interesting questions or questions I ask on the go, for example, when I ask something at the end of the day and want to see any responses as soon as they arrive (not that I couldn’t do this via web, but a native app is definitely more convenient).

Awesome job guys. I’ve been using the app for a few weeks, and I’m glad to see that it’s officially launched. And the new updates make it even more shiny. Kudos to the team that worked behind it!

What are you using the “modify or delete the contents of your USB storage” permission for?

WinPhone please!!

Will there be a separate version for iPad or will it just run the iPhone version.

Chris Jan 28 2014

@Ben:
Have a look at http://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/217345

“We use this to cache data onto your phone’s external storage (normally an SD card) per Google’s standards”

donrhummy Jan 28 2014

great start, but a few things missing or buggy:

1. feed is not working. I’m seeing three sections/questions that are all religious but I’ve never even looked at a religious stack exchange (didn’t know they existed)

2. no way top vow recent reputation changes or privileges

F-I-N-A-L-L-Y!

good job

Kasra Rahjerdi Jan 28 2014

@Chris Down:

Thanks for the first impressions blog post! Markdown support is coming to the app, just not for this release. You can also tap on code blocks to view them in a new window that’s scrollable (we’re still trying to figure out how to signify that you can do that easier)

Downvote for Windows.

NerdCodeJockey Jan 28 2014

Nice!

Am actually in middle of coding up a opensource version… ;)

The app is a disappointment. The “Feed” mainly shows me a bunch of stuff I’m not interested in on sites I don’t care to follow so closely (even if I do have participation on some of them), and I seem unable to turn it off or to set the app to default to open with the one site I do care about. Combining that with the fact that TeX is broken on the app means that it doesn’t really work for me. I’ll continue simply to visit SE on my phone via Chrome, which works just fine. Who needs a separate app?

Stefan Jan 28 2014

I have the same problem as Ravik and JDH, the App does not render the MathJax code, which makes it useless for MSE and MO (and practically all other sites in the category “science”).

sanjeev Jan 28 2014

Please bring it on Windows Phone too.

sanjeev Jan 28 2014

Please bring it on Windows Phone too

Woot. Finally. :)

Can I haz Firefox OS version?

Burhan Khalid Jan 28 2014

I hope my beta testing was worth it :) Great release and the app works well for having to present such rich information on a small screen.

Martao Jan 29 2014

Windows++
And with that I mean both WindowsPhone and Windows8/RT

That’s great BUT… I think what you really need is a responsive website not two native mobile apps. Less effort, less maintenance costs, and almost same benefit – which is accessing stack exchange websites on smaller screen devices. You don’t even have to make it fully responsive, just let the questions/answers text wrap with the window’s width.

Not supported in Android v2.3.6 (Gingerbread) OS. :’(

Ben M Jan 29 2014

Have to agree with Diogo – A HTML5, mobile friendly website that works essentially the same as the app and is cross platform usable means you have less code to maintain and update so therefore quicker development times and you don’t alienate a whole bunch of your non-android users. Obviously you’ll lose out on a few native features, but with the amount of stuff you can do with HTML5 I don’t think anyone will really notice.

Ben M Jan 29 2014

Oh you can also better avoid issues like the mathJax one being reported.

What about LaTex support? Will it ever be possible to see text in LaTex symbols on that app? Or is that possible now? If so, how can I make them appear on my screen?

OMG I looked 1 month ago and nothing, and now one month later…
A very nice app that work perfectly.

Wonderful app : ):) Excellent job guys..

Kevin Montrose Jan 29 2014

@user LaTeX/MathJax support is planned.

It’s tricky enough that we didn’t want to hold up the v1 launch for it is all.

WindowsPhoneRequests++;

Also I volunteer to help if you want it.

> Downvote for Windows.

LOL! That’s what they thought too; that’s why they’ll be doing it after the iOs version. Seriously, what sense would it make to release a Windows version first? Or you think think they should hold back on releasing a great, functioning app until the less popular platforms are also supported, and if so, why?

Thanks!
Loving it so far.

Mister XYZ Jan 29 2014

Quite inusable. The answers are displayed as big black box. I cannot read anything there.

Paŭlo Ebermann Jan 29 2014

Any chance that the non-phone specific features (i.e. other than vibrating and stuff) would be integrated into the web view at stackexchange.com?

@Luke wrote:
> “Why not allow Froyo/gingerbread phones? Many still prefer/use those devices – or is the app designed more for tablets?”

Some reasons:

1) Android 2.x versions have about 20% share combined (2014), and that is only going to shrink. Besides, among Stack Exchange audience of mostly tech-savvy users, I’m sure it’s way less than that.

2) It’s not a simple matter of “allowing”. Supporting those ancient versions is a pain in the ass for developers, and it would probably increase the cost of development by, say, 20-30%.

Supporting 4.0 and up is exactly what I’d have done.
The app feels pretty good on a Nexus 7. Cheers.

Wow; That’s a long time coming; It will help me alot.

BobbyScon Jan 30 2014

Feeling like quite the end user here. When logging in to the desktop version of the site, I use a gmail account. I don’t have that gmail account associated with my phone and the sign-in screen for the app will only let me select the account I have on the device. I’ve tried “Log in using Stack Exchange” and “Log in using another OpenID”, but neither of those will recognize the email address.

The “Log in using Google” option needs to be able to let you select a different Google account without having to sync it to your device.

> BobbyScon
> I don’t have that gmail account associated with my phone…without
> having to sync it to your device.

Create an OpenId account? Usually you’ll want whatever account you use on SE, though, so you can see your questions/replies.

BobbyScon Jan 30 2014

@Alex,

I don’t want to create a new account. I have multiple Google accounts with one specifically used for forums such as SE. That particular account isn’t synced with my phone because I don’t want it to be. The SE app will only let me sign in via Google using the account synced to my phone and I can’t see an option (like I can with the desktop version) to use a different Google account rather than the one selected by default.

Either I’m missing the place/setting where I could do this, or I’d like to suggest it as a feature that could be implemented in future releases.

Is it me, or is my system wacky, or has this app updated itself for what feels like the 6th time since I downloaded it on the 27th?

Kazzkiq Jan 31 2014

Holy crap! Its so awesome that i pissed myself.

Kevin Montrose Jan 31 2014

@JoshDM we’re in the post-1.0 squashing bugs phase of things, so we’re doing pretty regular updates.

This is a very nice blogs.This is exactly what I was looking for. It’s really very useful for me. Thank you.Your designs are very good, I have to keep coming back to look

Halabi Feb 3 2014

Windows Phone 8 version please.

Europe need WinPhone version

Windows Phone 8 version please.

Like it

ADTC Feb 9 2014

The best thing you did is to go Android FIRST. I get really annoyed when big businesses go iPhone first because, well, honestly iPhones suck. I’m glad you guys are radical enough.

Rob Kielty Feb 11 2014

Good job, well done to all involved.

No mention of Firefox OS / Ubuntu-touch version??

Firefox OS apps, being more web-based, might be easily port-able to Windows-phones.

Dawood Khan Feb 12 2014

thanks for this blod. Iphone

stars Feb 14 2014

I’ve been having a lot of frustrations accessing SE on my phone via the browser. Several small things that make typing replies and comments very difficult. It didn’t seem well-designed for mobile at all. I can’t believe I didn’t realise you had an app! Will definitely be checking that out now.

good , i like