You may have seen my link above to our initial ideas on building native apps for Discourse forums - it was before either of Fig or Lexicon were released. We stuck together through some difficult times, over last couple years, to continue building ForumX, knowing that there could always be others building something similar.
While we were trying to get as much time in to developing ForumX as possible, watching Fig first and then Lexicon get released were very interesting and inspiring to see. We thought they each did some things really well, and again, it is thanks to an extensive API and easily understandable Rails codebase in Discourse.
The Fig launch was great to see. They have been iOS-only since launch and they lean heavily into iOS-only UI paradigms. As we’re on both iOS and Android, we’ve tried to avoid leaning too far into platform-specific UI paradigms. This will help community owners.
Lexicon was very interesting in that they 1) presented it as a way to add discussions to your existing site or content without fully embracing the richness that Discourse brings to the table, 2) no push notification support, 3) they added an additional layer between Discourse and their app - a GraphQL API.
Our primary business model is different from both of theirs (Fig is individual user only, no branded apps, and Lexicon doesn’t have a business model but they said they could be potentially hired to build things out). In both cases, we have been closely watching for any further app or repo updates - and we haven’t seen any in years/months. We thought about this, and we think our model will let us support multiple versions of Discourse, and keep increasing the supported feature surface area, including plugins, over time, and most importantly, provide confidence to community owners that the apps they set up through us will be around to support and grow with them.
We think that an intuitive, relatable UI, push notifications, theming and the ability to get your own, custom-branded, app into the App Store and Play Store are central to the experience you want to provide as a community owner. Amongst several other detailed considerations, these abilities were baked in from the start.
I think our team is most excited about who we will get to know/work with through the process of deploying apps for them.