Fedilab for Android

Third party Mastodon, PeerTube & Fediverse app, free open source software, available from Google Play (paid) ⧉ & F-Droid (free) ⧉

General impressions

At first glance appears to be pretty standard, but once you start going through the options and settings there is so much more under the surface. Many, many useful features and good support for non-Mastodon Fediverse servers. It’s not the best-looking app, but that doesn’t matter because it does lots of things other apps cannot do.

Nice stuff

  • All the standard extras available the web interface such as post editing, pinned posts, hashtag follows, lists, filters, trending tags, trending posts etc.
  • All the timelines (Home, Local, Federated, Explore) are there, as are all the visibilities (Public, Unlisted, Followers-Only, Mentions-Only and Local-Only (for servers that support local-only posts))
  • Free open source software
  • Allows users to be muted just on home timeline while still appearing on lists, which is great for creating multiple separate timelines from the same account. (Also, you can set lists to automatically include home muted users.)
  • Scheduled posts and scheduled boosts, including boosts of own or others’ posts
  • Post drafts, automatically asks you if you close a message without posting it
  • Built-in translation, built-in dictionary and spell checker
  • Good support for non-Mastodon Fediverse server types including Pixelfed, PeerTube, Friendica etc. Also includes support for extra features on Mastodon forks such as Glitch and Hometown.
  • PeerTube interface is particularly good, allows all the options from the web interface including uploads, and Fedilab can easily be used as a dedicated PeerTube app
  • Customisable timeline and interface options, colour themes, adjustable text and icon sizes.
  • Conversation thread maps
  • Lets you fetch data from remote servers which allows conversations and profiles to be updated with information that hasn’t federated to your server yet.
  • Optional privacy features for links such as UTM stripping, and using alternative frontends for links to popular services (for example Nitter to view Twitter links, Invidious to view YouTube links etc).
  • Lots more options such as automatic cache clearance.

Not sure one way or other

  • Fedilab is a paid app on Google Play but free-of-charge on F-Droid. This is as the developer wishes to encourage people onto alternatives to Google Play.

Potential drawbacks

  • Some of the formatting could be slicker and neater, for example metadata tables on profiles look a bit messy
  • Some English translations slightly odd, such as “trending messages” when it means trending posts
  • Occasional weird bugs, for example the Manage Timelines page brings up a “No timelines was found on this instance” error message

Hints & Tips

  • Polls can be added to posts by clicking the attachment button (the paperclip) and selecting the poll icon
  • You can jump to the top of a timeline by double-tapping the timeline’s icon

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PeerTube: Video on the Fediverse

Screenshot of the PeerTube server fedi.video featuring many themed recommended playlists on topics such as animation, food, crafts, retro gaming etc.
Screenshot of the PeerTube server Fedi.Video ⧉

PeerTube ⧉ is a video platform for the Fediverse, sort of like Mastodon but for videos.

Just like Mastodon, PeerTube is spread out on many different servers that talk to each other. Also, because both PeerTube and Mastodon are part of the Fediverse, PeerTube accounts can be followed from Mastodon etc as well as from other PeerTube servers.

How do I watch PeerTube videos and follow PeerTube accounts? How can I follow them from Mastodon?

Please go to the guide to using PeerTube.

How do I upload videos to PeerTube?

Please go to the guide to publishing on PeerTube.

Where can I see an example of PeerTube in action?

If you just want to see an example of a working PeerTube server, have a look at fedi.video ⧉.

Which apps can I use with PeerTube?

You can follow and interact with PeerTube from your Mastodon account, including through your server’s website or any Mastodon app.

Alternatively, if you are using a PeerTube account yourself, you can use your PeerTube server’s website, or the Android apps Fedilab and NewPipe ⧉.

If you just want to watch videos without interacting, you can subscribe to PeerTube channels through your favourite podcast app.

What if I want to start my own PeerTube server?

There are basically three options:

Isn’t video really expensive to host?

Video sites are definitely more expensive to run than text-based social networks, but PeerTube has a clever system to keep the costs down.

When several people watch the same video, they start sharing their bandwidth on a peer-to-peer connection (which is where PeerTube gets its name). This significantly reduces the strain on the PeerTube server where the video is hosted, and it provides the greatest amount of help when the strain is greatest.

I thought PeerTube was a way to view YouTube videos with better privacy?

No. You’re probably thinking of a totally different project called Invidious ⧉

Does PeerTube run on blockchain or cryptocurrency or something?

No. None of the Fediverse uses blockchain or anything like it. The Fediverse runs on traditional sustainable servers federated in a structure similar to email.

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RSS on Mastodon and the Fediverse

RSS feeds are simple, easy-to-use feeds of content from the internet, such as news articles, videos and podcasts. You can use RSS apps to follow Mastodon accounts, and use Mastodon accounts to follow RSS feeds.

What is RSS?

RSS is basically just a special kind of internet address that tells an RSS app where to find content. The apps used to follow RSS feeds are often called “feed readers” or “news readers”.

RSS apps let you make your own custom timelines of all the latest content from your favourite sites, news services, podcasts and other content. All you have to do is enter the RSS address of the site, podcast, news service etc into the RSS app.

How to follow Mastodon accounts from an RSS feed reader app

All Mastodon accounts have an RSS address which can be followed from RSS apps:

  1. Go to a Mastodon account profile’s original page on a web browser.
  2. Copy the web address from the browser’s address bar
  3. Add .rss to the end of the web address to create the account’s RSS address
  4. Add the account’s RSS address to your RSS app

For example, the RSS feed for the FediTips account is https://social.growyourown.services/@FediTips.rss ⧉. Note that this only shows posts with public visibility, you will not see replies or posts with other visibilities.

How to follow RSS feeds from Mastodon

You can also now do this the other way around, and follow RSS feeds from your Mastodon account, thanks to a service called RSS Parrot ⧉:

  1. Create a new post but don’t publish it yet
  2. Mention the RSS Parrot Fediverse account @birb@rss-parrot.net
  3. Mention the RSS address you want to follow
  4. Publish the post
  5. RSS Parrot will create a new Fediverse account that mirrors the contents of the RSS address you provided, and then reply to you with a link to the new account
  6. Follow this new account to follow the RSS feed

This method works for any Fediverse platform that supports microblogging, including Mastodon and many other Fedi platforms.

How to follow PeerTube Channels and Accounts from RSS apps

You can follow any PeerTube accounts or channel through RSS apps:

  1. Go to the channel’s or account’s profile page on PeerTube
  2. Click the channel’s or account’s Subscribe button (if you are logged in on that PeerTube server, click the little arrow on the right of the subscribe button instead)
  3. There will be an RSS subscription option at the bottom of the subscription menu, click this to go to the RSS feed (which may look a bit crazy but don’t worry!)
  4. Copy the address at the top of the browser to get the channel’s or account’s RSS address
  5. Paste the RSS address into your RSS app

This feed will deliver embedded videos to your feed reader and you can watch them there.

Friendica: Champion of RSS

The Fediverse platform Friendica has probably the best RSS support on the Fediverse, including a built-in feed reader which doesn’t need any third party services or apps.

To follow an RSS feed in Friendica:

  1. Paste the RSS address into the search box in Friendica
  2. The RSS feed’s profile page will appear, click Follow
  3. The RSS feed’s contents will start showing up in your main timeline as it is published, and will look like normal account posts

Friendica also lets you turn RSS feeds into Fediverse accounts that people can follow from other Fediverse platforms.

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