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.
TwitPic works like this: you log into the TwitPic website using your Twitter ID. The site then generates a special email address that you keep secret (this prevents others from emailing photos to your feed). Instead of sending a text message (SMS) to Twitter, you send a picture message (MMS) to TwitPic.
The photo is uploaded to your personal page on TwitPic (your “photo stream”), and a post is automatically generated (with a TinyURL link) to your Twitter feed. If you want to include a caption with your photo, you use the Subject link on your email, and TwitPic includes that in your Tweet. You can also upload photos from your computer to the website directly, and choose whether to have those pics posted to Twitter.
If any Twitter users comment on your photo (and you have to be logged in with a Twitter account leave a comment), it will also be posted to Twitter as an “@reply” to your username.
TwitPic is free to use, but supports itself with ads on your photo page.
Similar to TwitPic, Skitch can have photos sent to your personal page via email or MMS—it works by having Skitch generate a secret email address for you. Send a picture to this account, and it gets posted privately to your Skitch feed. Add +public (“firstname.lastname@example.org” for example) to the username, and it’s posted to your public feed. If you add “+twitter” to the username on this account (“email@example.com”), Skitch automatically posts it to your Twitter account. Adding +public+twitter to the address does both.
Of course, the real beauty of Skitch is not just that you can upload photos to the internet, but that you can crop, resize, and add text, arrows, and shapes to them—hard to do from a phone. If you’re at your Mac, however, you can annotate your photo to your heart’s content. Once you’re done, you can either email the photo to your Twitter feed (as outlined above), or use Skitch’s Webpost function to upload it to your personal page. There, along with the code for pasting your photo to a web page, is a handy button for posting it automatically to your Twitter feed.
For more apps designed to enhance your tweets, check out our Twitter apps for iPhone and Macintosh round-up.