TugBox is a new iOS app from independent developer Konstantin Vasilev. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases. It’s currently listed in the “New” section of the App Store’s Social Networking category.
TugBox is a social networking app that is designed to allow its users to debate issues relating to Web content. The basic flow of use requires users to copy a link they would like to discuss, then post a question with two possible answers relating to the link. Other users are then able to give their response to the question, see how many people have responded in different ways and then, optionally, leave a comment if they desire. Comments may be left either using the user’s name used on signup, or optionally may be made anonymous if users do not wish to share their name when giving their opinion.
The TugBox experience is split into “forums” that specialize in various topics. By default, the user is subscribed to a forum called “Adi Gold Club” which appears to have been used as a testing ground for the developer — there does not appear to be a lot of interaction between users going on, with the most popular question at the time of writing only having seven votes and a single comment. It is easy for users to create their own forum to focus discussion — specific users who have been added to one’s contact list can then be invited to the forum, allowing for the easy curation of a specific discussion group rather than opening it up to absolutely anyone. Unfortunately, the process of actually adding someone to your contact list is cumbersome and unintuitive, requiring a manual search for the person’s name rather than a simple tap on a comment they have made.
TugBox looks rather cheaply produced, using standard iOS interface conventions and default fonts. The app’s interface doesn’t make navigation particularly intuitive, and certain aspects simply don’t work very well — the inability to tap on a user’s name to add them as a contact is the most glaring of these.
A far more serious issue for TugBox in the long run, however, is simply that no-one is using it. The vast majority of the questions posted on the service at present appear to have come from the developer and dummy accounts he has set up to test the app, and there is no real debate or discussion going on. This is perhaps at least partly due to the fact that the service is a walled garden that doesn’t connect to other services such as Facebook or Twitter, but it’s also not entirely clear what the service is really for. The app claims to encourage debate and discussion, but forces users into reducing potentially complex issues to binary black-or-white choices, and provides little in the way of unique functionality to distinguish it from more well-produced, well-designed debating/discussion solutions such as Quora — or indeed, little incentive to use it in favor of established networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Ultimately, then, TugBox is an interesting idea not implemented particularly well. While it’s possible it may pick up some users in the long term, the unintuitively-designed interface and relative lack of features compared to similar titles gives users very little reason to check this out when much better platforms for debate and discussion are available.
You can follow TugBox’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.