So I decided to download it and check it out. And upon first glance, I already felt any enthusiasm I may've had about the app starting to slip.
Opening The App
When you first login to the app, you are greeted by the "Today" page, which appears to be nothing more than a list of blogs and articles written by DA staff.
To me, this seems like an odd choice to me for a "front" page. If you look at any other art or social networking app (Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, etc), the front page of the app shows you a feed from the people you follow. I don't follow any of the DA staff, and I don't really care about what they're writing about. It'd make much more sense for the application to instead show a feed of the people you're watching instead.
But luckily, that's only a click away.
The "watch feed" does have a nicer appearance than the mobile version of the site, with larger thumbnails that take up the width of the screen. However, this comes at a cost of organization and some functionality. On the desktop and mobile sites, everything is split up and organized. Deviations in one section, journals in the next, polls in the following, etc. On the mobile app, they are all just combined together into a single feed, leaving it seeming somewhat less organized.
I can imagine this being handy for some people, who wants to see everything at once. But an option to filter it to view only deviations, or only journals would be nice as well. Plus, stacking is not available, so you can't just see "<x> new deviations from <user>", but instead you'll just see each one individually, which contributes to the disorganized feel. Furthermore, it includes lists of what the people you watch have been favoriting, which can clog up your feed.
Another thing that bugged me about the feed was that there didn't appear to be any way to clear notifications. If you delete them on the desktop or mobile site, they seem to stop showing up in your feed, but if you look at them on your mobile device, they'll still be there the next time you check the site.
Profiles look much nicer on the app than the mobile site, and are much easier to navigate. Unlike the feed, things are very organized in profiles, with separate sections for gallery, journals, favorites, and comments. While some things from a full profile (such as custom boxes) are missing, I don't really consider this much of a setback.
My only complaint about profiles is that when images are cropped to better fit on screen, it can sometimes cut off the subject or other important parts of an image. If this is the way DA is going with the site, then I would hope that they'll soon allow users to specify thumbnails so that they can show the primary focus of the image, as opposed to Carrot Top with a random cardboard tube pointing at her.
Finally, the thing that DA is about - Deviations. When you view a deviation, you are presented with the image, and just a few icons to view info, comments, add to favorites, and share. Simple, minimalist, and to the point.
While again, it's friendlier towards smaller, touch screens, it's lacking some important features. The sharing function absolutely sucks - if you try to share a deviation via any method (Text, WhatsApp, Tumblr, etc), all it does is send a link to the deviation. No thumbnail, no download button, etc. A better solution would've been to share a thumbnail, with a link to the full version of the image. Additionally, the lack of a download button is annoying, as I like downloading pictures to use as my phone's wallpaper/lockscreen.
Also, the comments are displayed newest-to-oldest, which is a slight annoyance, as some people prefer displaying them the other way around.
If it's possible to take both a step in the right direction and a step in the wrong direction at the same time, DA certainly has managed to do so with the first release of the app. Overall, to me at least, using the DA App feels more like I'm browsing Facebook or Tumblr than DA.
The app definitely makes viewing individual deviants and deviations on a mobile device easier, but managing your notifications more difficult, due to the loss of organization that we've grown accustomed to from the desktop/mobile sites. If you only follow a small quantity of artists/groups, then the app is likely very usable. But if you're like me (who follows over a thousand artists/groups), then the "single stream" approach can make it hard to view everything you want to see.
To be completely fair, this is the first release of the app, and some features (like notes) haven't even been added yet. I'm remaining hopeful that, in the near future, more and more features from the site will be added to the mobile app, but until then I'm sticking with the mobile site on my phone.