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Review: Free Twitter Apps

(9) July 14th, 2010

You know what’s annoying? Doubt. I was perfectly happy with my Twitter client for my iPhone. It did everything I thought I needed elegantly, quickly, and reliably. Until doubt started to set in. What if there’s something better out there… what if I’m missing out on all these amazing features I never knew existed? Cue the need for a comparison of free Twitter clients. I set out on my quest in the normal way, sacrificing 12 virgins down by the volcano hoping the gods would direct me to “The Chosen One”. Then I did a search for Twitter in the app store to check out the somethings that cost next-to-nothing: Twitter, Echofon, Seesmic, Twitterific, and Tweetdeck. I gave each app 2 days to be my sole Twitter client, to try it on and see if it fit. I don’t usually rate things, but for the sake of comparing 5 different clients I think it would be useful. Get those stars ready. No, stars are boring. I will be using 5 strips of bacon by which to score.

‘Twitter’ is the official Twitter app for iPhone, previously known as Tweetie. It had a very loyal following as Tweetie, and as such Twitter bought it out and rebadged it accordingly. I like the simple nature of it’s interface, what you want to do is clearly obvious, and easy to use. Good: Supports multiple accounts, mentions are highlighted, starts from last unread tweet. Great little resource panel when you go to write a new tweet, including one-touch URL shrinking, geotagging, and username look up. Less good: No number badges telling you how many new tweets or mentions, just a little light. When a tweet of yours is retweeted, you can’t see who chose to retweet it.

  • Overview:

‘Echofon’ was my very first Twitter client for my iPhone. I was very impressed with it until that pesky doubt kicked in. Previously called “Twitterfon” (with a web based application called “Twitterfox”), ‘Echofon’ has had over 6 million downloads. Good: It’s pretty. Real pretty. Usernames are links and are coloured differently as such. The font is small enough to be elegant and neat, but not small enough that it can’t be seen. Starts from last unread tweet. Badges displaying the number of tweets/mentions/DMs along with multiple account support, and auto-complete for usernames when writing a new tweet (I freaking LOVE that). Less good: I think the badge can only go up to 299, but I’m not entirely sure on that one, it could be a coincidence. The ads are about as big as a tweet, at the top of the twitter feed, making it very easy to accidentally tap it, and the more obnoxiously coloured ones are quite distracting. Can’t see who chose to retweet you.

  • Overview:

‘Seesmic’ was the first Twitter app I knew to include Facebook and Twitter in the one application, which was pretty impressive. I was relieved to imagine getting rid of the official Facebook application, which to be blunt is about as useful at operating Facebook as a paperclip sticking out of a freshly laid cow shit. (Which funnily enough since they haven’t bothered to make it work on iOS4 is even worse, effectively removing the paperclip and leaving just a steaming turd. /rant). I had high hopes for this magical “twofer”. Good: Facebook integration, and clearly the most adorable icon on my phone. Less Good: A limit to 4 accounts, whether they be Twitter or Facebook. Starts from newest tweet (make Homer something something…). Ugly, they’ve used the colours of highlighters to highlight your tweets, DMs, and retweets (see what they did there?). The DM’s in particular are quite a painful shade of fluro orange. There is no way of separately seeing your retweets, everyone else’s, and your tweets other people have retweeted – they’re all in one massive list. And when you’re following more than say, 100 likeminded people, there’s a buttload of RTing going on. It’s quite crashy, and you can’t see who chose to retweet you.

  • Overview:

‘Twitterrific’ is another client with a very loyal fanbase, scan down your twitter feed and you’ll see “via Twitterrific” get quite a few mentions (see what I did…. yeah I’ll show myself out). One of the “dark themed” apps (the previous 3 have been white backgrounds) I find myself giggling rampantly at the colour they chose to use to highlight mentions on their black/grey background. Out of all the colours of the rainbow, they chose that ever-so-sophisticated pinnacle of urban elegance and savoir faire, baby poo brown. A side menu as opposed to a menu at the bottom (which seems to be standard), and a focus on trends moreso than features within that menu, is quite confusing. Cool: Translate options for tweets. Fast, and reliable. Starts from last unread tweet. Less cool: Ugly as sin, each screen only fits about 3 tweets due to the bloated nature of the interface. You can only click on links within tweets after clicking on the tweet itself and seeing it alone, very annoying and a whole new process for no particular reason.

  • Overview:

‘Tweetdeck’ is seen as the mother of all Twitter apps. With features galore and a web based application to match, it’s srz bznz for the people who do a lot of tweeting or need to handle a lot of traffic due to following (or being followed by) a lot of people. Namely it’s ability to sort your followers/following into user groups, say friends, family, workmates, or fans. Very handy for those with lots of followers who don’t want tweets from their real life friends being lost in the abundance of admiration from their groupies and the unwashed masses. Cool: An option to have a dark or light background. Facebook integration. A mark all as seen option (which is great if you use more than one app, or the web to also check twitter). Different columns for the feed, mentions, DMs and FB, and the option to add more. Almost everything is customisable. It’s pretty and there seems to be lots of support and bug fixing going on behind the scenes to keep it in good shape. Less good: I can’t seem to find an option for having multiple account support, but that could be PEBKAC.

  • Overview:

It might seem like I’ve come to my conclusion for what my choice cut of Twitter client will be based on my porcine points giving, but it’s not that simple, smartypants. Tweetdeck is a superb client, it has everything you need and more. Therein lies my beef (omg woman stop writing when you’re hungry). I don’t need all those features. To really get the most out of Tweetdeck you need to sit down and set it up properly, create your usergroups and go through everything with a fine-toothed comb. I don’t really have the need. I don’t have a lot of followers, I don’t follow a lot of people. I need something lo-fi that gets the job done and has the features I like in an app, not the app that is the best for the broadest range of people. So it is with great pleasure I announce my personal choice for my dedicated twitter application on my phone. I’m going back to my twitter roots. It might not be what is best for everyone but it’s what works best for me. I feel like I’m slipping into a nice warm bath of familiarity as The Chosen One welcomes me with open arms, saying “Welcome back, Leena… we missed you….”

I’m going back to Echofon. Just as soon as they get around to bringing out an update that plays nicely with iOS4…


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9 Responses to “Review: Free Twitter Apps”

  1. Game8over says:

    I agree i have Tweetdeck but i just don’t need all of what it can do

    P.S. THE GAP!
    P.S.S. Cool site

  2. Shortie says:

    mmmm bacon…

  3. Nez says:

    Wicked site Leena absolutely LOVE the look & feel good work. I’m such a noob when it comes to Twitter apps because I don’t have a Smart phone but I will at some stage I imagine so interested. Great review, love the bacon scaling, can’t think of a better way to rate anything to be honest and very objective review to rate something as 5/5 but then choose the one you rated as 3/5 that most suits your needs. :P

    I must ask, why the requirement for ‘multiple accounts’. Why would you have a need to support multiple Twitter accounts? I could understand a business wanting to do this for their business and their personal but can’t think of any other reason.

  4. Hammond says:

    I’ve been using Echofon myself a lot lately and the only thing I really hate about it is it’s name :P

    Also, bonus if you run both the version on your iPhone and on your computer, it remembers where you were up to on either device and starts you off at the first unread tweet which is synced!

  5. Ceylon says:

    Nez, if someone has, I dunno, work friends and proper friends and doesn’t want the two groups overlapping…or if they lived in Australia but work in, say, China now, and doesn’t want to clog up anyone’s feed with the other language, they might create multiple accounts.

  6. Leena says:

    Not to mention parody accounts, the person owning it normally has a twitter account of their own. I currently have access to 3 twitter accounts, and am about to create a 4th.

  7. Morkai says:

    i know of another case, Jinx who runs the official xbox australia twitter account, also runs her own personal one, which i’m following as well as the xbox one

  8. Tommy Fullerton says:

    I’ve always used NatsuLion. Check it out.

  9. ashlar says:

    You know I’ve gone through all of these and I came back to Tweetdeck, pretty, free and stable.

    The ads in Echofon piss me off to no extent, and I’m not going to pay for it because I am miserable.

    Also the Tweetdeck desktop client is fantastic as well.

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