The Bird is the Word: Part II (Twitter Reviews)
At the end of April, Twitter released their official application for Android. This free application has a few features that are absent on other Twitter clients, and as a result, it narrowly edges out Seesmic as the third best Twitter application in the Android Market.
When opening Twitter 1.0.1 you are greeted a main menu of sorts, which is a rarity for Twitter clients. The majority of Twitter application take you right into your timeline with a menu along the bottom, but the official Twitter application features a main menu where you can view tweets, mentions, direct messages, lists, retweets and your profile. The menu is white with powder blue clouds that move tranquilly in the background. One feature that sets the official Twitter application apart is that trending topics pop up as chat bubbles from the Twitter bird at the bottom of the screen on the main menu page, but we will discuss that more in a bit.
The aesthetic elements of the application are carried over to the timeline, which can be accessed by clicking on tweets on the main menu page. The timeline page is stark and features two menu bars, one on top of the other. The top menu features the official Twitter logo and icons that allow you to refresh your timeline, compose and send a new tweet, and search you timeline. The bottom menu contains the Twitter bird. Clicking on the Twitter bird activates an animated menu that pops down and allows you to access your mentions feed and favorites. To reply, retweet or favorite a specific tweet, the official Twitter application expects you press a small circular button on the far right-hand side of said tweet. Clicking on the button brings up a horizontal menu that is very similar to the menu in Android’s contacts application. Although the application makes an attempt to blend well with the underlying Android operating system, the timeline’s layout and labyrinth of menus make the experience less than enjoyable.
To access a person’s profile, you are required to click on their name. Within a person’s profile you are presented with a timeline of their tweets, but to access any function you are again required to click on the Twitter bird in the upper left-hand corner. It would be nice if these functions were arranged in a row rather than in a drop-down menu. One nice feature, however, that is present while viewing someone’s profile is pictures posted by that person appear in a thumbnail view, so you are not required to open up the browser to view a picture.
There are two great features that are present in the official Twitter application. The first of which is the trending topics that pop up as chat bubbles from the Twitter bird at the bottom of the screen on the main menu page. Twitter is useful for many reasons, but where it excels is as a microblogging service and as a source for news and information. The trending topics feature of Twitter is surprisingly useful for keeping up-to-date on current events, and Twitter was smart to include an auto-updating trending topics feature into their official application.
A second feature that sets the official Twitter application apart is the ability to quickly include the names of multiple followers in a single tweet by simply clicking on a checkmark next to their name. This feature eliminates the need to type out multiple names, and is especially useful for Follow Friday. The application is also well-integrated with the Android operating system itself. You can view the latest tweets from people you follow on a map, from within your phonebook, and every other application that uses Android’s pop-up contact menu.
One area where the official Twitter application is lacking is in customization options. It also does not support multiple accounts, which is a considerable downside for many people. Another negative is that the application has a single widget size. The widget only shows one tweet at a time, which can become aggravating if you like to navigate through multiple tweets from the widget.
Overall, the official Twitter application for Android is a well-designed application that is pleasing to the eye. The application is well-integrated with the underlying Android operating system and has a few unique features that allow it to stand out from the rest of the Twitter clients. However, the dearth of customization options and lack of support for multiple accounts will prevent many users from switching over from Seesmic, Twidroid and Touiteur. The official Twitter 1.0.1 application is free, and is available for all versions of the Android operating system.