Twitter is the latest thing in social networking. Think of it as a micro-blog. Designed to be used from a cell phone, web, or mobile device, each post can only be 140 characters long (shorter than a text message!) and are built around the question: “What are you doing right now?”
Some Twitter feeds are mundane (“I’m having lunch.” “I’m waiting for the bus.”), while the really good users treat Twitter like a haiku: 140 characters to express something really fun or beautiful. While the Twitter website offers a basic interface for posting “Tweets,” a ton of clients (both for iPhone and desktop) as well as web apps have flourished, and we’ll be taking you through them, letting you know what features and drawbacks you can expect to find.
Twitter Apps for iPhone
At what point did Twitter stop being a web application and become a platform? There’s a whole industry being built around adding things to Twitter: pictures, video, links, and even maps. GeoTweeter is a Twitter client that allows you to post tweets with a map link embedded. The map can be of your current location (using the iPhone/iPod touch wireless tools), or you can create one using the address or longitude/latitude coordinates. Think of it as your own personal Zagat guide: you can automatically post a link to the places you visit, along with a star rating, picture, and contact information. I can see this being extremely useful for impromptu gatherings or just to keep a record of the places you like to hang out.
JustUpdate and Gyazickr
Twitter can be a great way to follow what friends and celebrities are thinking; to get snapshots on the thoughts of people around the world. But two Twitter apps, JustUpdate and Gyazickr, break away from the rat-race of adding features to Twitter, and instead go the opposite direction: stripping away features and focusing solely on updating your own feed. Both applications are free.
When I previewed the Tweetdeck beta for OS X, I called it the Photoshop of Twitter clients; an extremely powerful tool for people who needed to filter a lot of information on Twitter. At the time, it was a lot more power than I needed, but as I use Twitter more and more, searching posts and users, I’ve come to rely on it as my primary client. Now there’s a Tweetdeck client for iPhone that provides a lot of the same tools, as well as synching information between the two.
Tweetie 2 – New
If you’re not one of the many Twitterholics that have been stalking Atebits since they announced the launch of Tweetie 2 for iPhone, you might like to know Apple has accepted the application into the App Store. If you’re not a user of Twitter (and who isn’t these days?), then Tweetie 2 won’t mean much to you. If, however, you’ve been using the original Tweetie or another Twitter iPhone client, you might like to read on, because Tweetie 2 is quite an impressive update that I believe puts itself ahead of the competition, for now.
TweetMic is an app that lets you post audio messages to your Twitter account from the comfort of your iPhone nearly anywhere, provided you have a decent internet connection. The application is simple. It does what it’s supposed to relatively well, and, honestly, little else. I’d feel much more comfortable recommending this app if upload times were better. If they get that fixed, then this app will be quite useful, considering how fun the idea really is. Really, this app is cheap enough to just buy if you think you’ll use it even a handful of times.
Twitterfon is a small, fast Twitter client that includes support for adding pictures and location info to your Tweets. So far, it’s the closest I’ve come to having the full web experience on my iPod touch. The strangest thing about it is that it’s free; not even ad-supported like Twitterrific, which used to be my primary Twitter client. Small, fast, and free with a plethora of features, some of which go beyond what Twitter itself offers. What’s not to love?
Twitterlink and Twitfire
“What are you doing right now?” That’s the basic question of Twitter, but sometimes simply telling people isn’t enough; sometimes you need to show them via a link or a photo. And the two Twitter clients reviewed here make sharing that information even easier. Much like JustUpdate, these programs are focused on posting information, neither one is set up to let you read other people’s Twitter feeds, or even your own Following page. Both work with the iPhone and iPod touch, and both are free.
Twitter, the micro-blogging site where you can upload posts of just 140 characters, is designed for the mobile. In fact, it’s built around the SMS, with the idea that people could answer the question “What are you doing?” from any cell phone or web connection. Twitterrific from the Iconfactory gives access to most of the popular features in a simple, easy-to-understand interface. It comes in two versions, plain (free) and premium, which are identical, except that once per hour the free version displays a small ad.
Twitter Applications for Macintosh
Lounge (public beta)
Twitter desktop clients: the field is overwhelmingly filled with Adobe AIR applications. These applications don’t usually look all too graceful, and worse (and far less subjective), have huge memory leaks. There are a few other apps that don’t rely on AIR; Twitterrific (my personal favorite) comes to mind. However, there are no Twitter apps on the Market that fit in with the Mac OS X look and feel, and more importantly run natively. Enter “Lounge.” Lounge began as an iPhone app, and now is in development of the desktop version. This makes it one of the few twitter apps to have a mobile and desktop counterpart. To me, this is the killer feature of Lounge, because it plans to offer “last read” syncing between the two apps, something that Twitterrific doesn’t.
You can get so caught up with the amount of Twitter information coming at you from so many sources that at this point you need a way of filtering what you see and when you see it, along with a method of handling the information that you put out there. Nambu, currently in beta, is the latest Twitter/social networking client that helps you juggle all this data. At its heart, it’s a simple Twitter app; you can post your 140 character messages to the world. But Nambu also lets you manage multiple Twitter accounts, lets you coordinate them with Twitter-friendly services like Identi.ca (an Open Source version of Twitter) and FriendFeed (Ping.fm support for posting to other services is supposed to be forthcoming, but currently disabled).
Tweetdeck (public beta)
Think of it like this; in terms of options, management, and scope, every other Twitter client is iPhoto. Tweetdeck is Photoshop. A free application that runs on the Adobe AIR platform, Tweetdeck, a Twitter desktop client, is a monster of a program. I don’t mean that it’s difficult to learn, but the sheer scope of its features and ability to sort through the massive amount of Twitter posts make it the most complex tool I’ve yet seen.
Tweetie for Mac was officially released earlier this week, and it has turned out to be just as popular as the iPhone version. There are currently two versions available for the app: ad supported or not. However, the ads in the free version can be turned off. When it comes to Twitter clients, Tweetie is as feature packed as it comes; from @replies to direct messages and search, it has it all.
Twitterrific has a clean design that controls how much and how little information you want, as well as how often you get it. It can be a constant companion for the information junkie, or a polite butler who waits in the corner while you’re busy, coughing politely to let you know a new visitor has arrived. I’m not convinced that the premium version is worth $14.95, especially given the lack of extras, and the intense competition from other, free clients who offer more features.
A Twitter client lives or dies by its features. They can try to pile them on, adding support for pictures, URL shrinking, and location reporting. Or, they can go the opposite way, stripping away features to make the client small and fast. But very few bother to create truly original features—those that other clients don’t have, and that no one has ever thought of. Enter TwitterPod, a desktop Twitter client which focuses on the user experience rather than making the posts robust.
I’m not exactly sure why Spaz (operating off the Adobe AIR platform) has become my favorite desktop Twitter client. In terms of how it works, it’s nothing radical, resembling Twitterrific and several other programs. It shows your Twitter feed, has tabs to see your Direct Messages and @replies, both a search function for Twitter-at-large and a filter for the posts in your feed. All handy features, but nothing that several other programs use in an all-too-familiar layout. Why, then, do I keep coming back to Spaz?
Twitter App How-To
How to post a photo to twitter
Since Twitter sprang from the idea of sending text updates from a cell phone, why not also post pictures? While there are several ways (and services) to do this, the two easiest I’ve found are TwitPic and Skitch, both currently free, and can be used from a browser or cell phone. Since Twitter itself only allows text, the services work by posting a link to the photo hosted on another site.