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Rolling Up Our Sleeves: Android Twitter App Showdown

December 2, 2009 | by Evan Selleck

Android Apps, Featured post, Free apps, HTC, Paid apps, Reviews

Rolling Up Our Sleeves: Android Twitter App Showdown

At this point, saying that there are a lot of Twitter applications available in the Android Market might be a bit too repetitive for your tastes, and hey, we completely understand. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, but truth be told, there’s also a lot of apps that just don’t make the cut. And while we would love to say that you should go out there, brave the nether-regions of the Marketplace and discover, experience, and endure those applications for yourself, we just can’t. We’d rather do it for you, so you can just get the best kind of experience available to you right from the get-go. But you know what? It’s not an easy job. So I’m teaming up with Mike from Gadget Gurus, and we are rolling up our sleeves to do the dirty work for you.

25 apps. That’s the total number of applications we tried, tested, scoured over, and graded. We used a simple scoring system for each application, based on User Interface, Notifications, and Feature set. Each criteria will earn, or perhaps deserve is the better word, a number between 1 and 5, with one being the lowest and five being the highest. First and foremost, let me just go ahead and say that Mike is using a Sprint Hero, and I’ve still got my trusty unlocked Hero. With that being said, it should be noted that we were not able to find every Twitter application to test and grade; but we’re going to list them here anyway, so that others may look for them and try them out on their own (I know, I know, but we can’t do everything on our own).

Mike and I split 20 of the apps up evenly: ten for me, ten for him. He put a lot of hard work into this, and we know you want to get the full experience, so don’t forget to head on over to his neck of the woods to check out the other half of the list. The other five we put into their own class, known as the Top 5, and we both reviewed each of these on our own. We wanted to give you the benefit of both our reviews for each of these applications, and elaborate on why, exactly, they made it to the heightened spot they did. Also, as an extra bonus, we are including input from two other sources, which we view as a more “consumer base” than our reviews. They will give you an outside perspective that we hope you enjoy, along with the rest of the work we put into this.

So, let’s get into it, shall we?

The List

10. Loquacious: I couldn’t find this application in the Android Market, so I’m unable to test it out myself.
9. nanTweeter: And this is the other app I couldn’t find. So, please feel free to look for them on your own, and try them out if you so desire. We wish we could have tested them, to give every app an opportunity to join in on the fun, but it just didn’t work out.

Twittoo

8. Twittoo:  At first glance, Twittoo looks like it might just be one of the most straight forward Twitter applications available. The first time you sign on, there’s the standard username and password, and then right underneath that there’s options to activate auto refresh and to enable notifications. When you sign on, the application automatically saves your settings, which includes your username and password. Upon the first launch of the app, even as the timeline was still loading, the onscreen keyboard popped up twice, without my consent. The initial load of the timeline took quite some time. The User Interface isn’t that great at all: while the timeline is blue by standard, the moment you start to scroll up or down, it turns black for some reason. The font in each tweet is small, and the pictures accompanying each contact are even smaller. There are three elongated buttons at the top of the app, two of which have the same pictures, just reversed. When I touched the top-left button, it brought me to my “friends” section, and then abruptly stopped working. I was informed that the application needed to force close, but before I could hit ‘okay’, the application restarted itself. I had never seen an application do this before, so I was kind of thrown off guard. Once it came back up and began loading the main timeline, which again took forever, the onscreen keyboard made its presence known again, against my wishes. You can retweet, reply, or direct message someone right from the timeline without having to press any additional buttons. Hitting the menu key brings up ‘preferences’, ‘log-out’, and ‘profile’. When I hit ‘preferences’, the application suddenly prompted me to enter my username and password again, back at the initial homescreen. Once I did, thinking that some kind of mistake had been made, I signed back on, and then went through the process of getting back into the ‘preferences’ section. Back to the homescreen, with my username and password blank. It’s at this moment that I realized the preferences are actually the initial two options: auto notifications. There is absolutely no customization of any kind available for Twittoo.

  • User Interface: 1
  • Features: 1
  • Notifications: 1

Twoid

7. Twoid:  Settting up Twoid for the first time is surprisingly quick, which gave me some hope that the application was going to be at least okay. But, the moment it loaded, and my visual senses were assaulted by the unabashed usage of pink and lime green, I suddenly regretted my decision. The User Interface would be better suited for an eight year old girl, who wants to be a princess. On a good note, Twitter user’s images displayed, and the timeline itself managed to load very quickly. But the images are too big, and actually looked blurry. Plus, the font for the tweets themselves are gray, on a white background, making it slightly hard to read. The features are listed as tabs at the bottom of the screen, the first of which is an envelope. There isn’t any text at the bottom, so I had to just start touching options to figure out what they did. First and foremost, that envelope. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but I guess sending a tweet wasn’t it. The next option shows a pink Android with an envelope next to its mouth: @replies addressed to you. The third shows two Android faces, one in the background and one in the foreground, with an envelope and an arrow in between them: direct messages. The last selectable feature is an envelope with an arrow moving in a circle, backwards. This is a search option, but unfortunately, it doesn’t let you actually search. It automatically kept searching for “null” on its own, and I couldn’t find a way to input my own search criteria. Hitting Menu brings up: ‘upload image’, ‘search’, ‘change account’, ‘settings’, ‘filter’, and ‘exit’. Settings was miniscule but random, offering the ability to view saved hashtags, manage those hashtags, and alter the number of tweets shown in your timeline. Auto notifications can be enabled, with the option to “check if you want notify your friends tweets”, which I honestly have no idea what that means. You can also set the primary account, add an account, or remove an account.

  • User Interface: 1
  • Features: 1
  • Notifications: 1

TwitteRx

6. TwitteRx: This one is very, very straightforward but wasn’t promoted to be a lightweight Twitter application like others, so I was kind of shocked when I started using it. Firstly, let me say that this app does indeed cost $0.99, so take that into account. The User Interface itself is very simple and uninteresting. Your Twitter contacts are listed in the standard timeline, and pictures are loaded with them, which are both decently sized and viewable. It’s white text over a black background, and links appear in blue; all very easy to read. There’s a simple, unobtrusive text input box at the top of the screen that allows you to update your tweets at any moment. I could find no way to show @replies, so that was a huge disappointment. Hitting Menu shows: ‘refresh’, ‘DM’, ‘search’, ‘settings’, ‘sign-out’, and ‘about’. Within settings is very limited, allowing the user to enable notifications, change the update check interval like every other application, and then change the ringtone and vibration. Otherwise, featureless.

  • User Interface: 2
  • Features: 1
  • Notifications: 1

TweetCat

5. TweetCat: Right from the get-go, let me point out that this is another application that costs $0.99. My initial reaction to this Twitter application was pretty bad; right from the start, it just started rubbing me the wrong way. Once I signed in, which offers you the ability to save your password if you so desire, and I’m literally assaulted by the User Interface and its flashback to the 90s. The menus are super, super tiny, with little imamges that look more at home on a home computer back in the day, than in a Twitter application running on a mobile phone in 2009. I just had to start touching options to figure out where I wanted to go, but frankly the images are too small, and the buttons too big. It just looks bad. And yet, there’s some surprise huddled within. The settings feature is pretty robust. You can change the font size from small to large, as well as change how many tweets are shown in your timeline at any given moment. Background notifications are here, with the ability to turn on or off the LED flash, phone vibrate, or add a customizable ringtone to incoming tweets. Surprisingly enough, it also gives you the option to utilize SSL from Twitter’s servers, which makes for slower load times (which was already pretty bad), but provides a more secure connection. And at the very bottom of the settings, there’s the option to change how you shorten your URLs.

  • User Interface: 2
  • Features: 4
  • Notifications: 3

Twit2Go

4. Twit2Go: Thankfully, we’re not judging these apps on their Twitter icons. Because if we were, Twit2Go would already be tossed out. This icon is probably one of the most disturbing icons I’ve ever seen. It’s a strange, distorted amalgamation of Twitter’s bird, and what would appear to be Google’s little Android guy. It’s not okay. When you sign in for the first time, you’re not sent immediately to your timeline like other applications. Instead, the first visit gets you to the options screen, where you’ll have to hit the back button to get to your timeline. There isn’t an option to save the password in this application, which seems to be very random through each of these. The User Interface is, well, not much of an Interface. It’s just your timeline, and that’s it. Twit2Go appears at the top-left, and a very faint ‘@’ appears, but I tried to touch it several times and nothing happened. User images and the timeline loaded pretty quickly, but that shouldn’t be a surprise considering there isn’t anything else here to muddle up the load times. Hitting Menu brings up: ‘refresh’, ‘mentions’, ‘DMs’, ‘update’, ‘search’, and ‘more’. Selecting the last option brings up: ‘config’, ‘view user’, ‘about’, and ‘clear cache’. The configuration for the app is very minimal, giving the options to change font size, show full names, and to change notification frequency of DMs and @replies. There wasn’t a way to change notifications for the timeline though, which seemed very strange. There are also no options to change LED, vibration, or ringtone.

  • User Interface: 2
  • Features: 1
  • Notifications: 1

i Twitter

3. I Twitter: First load, after signing in for the first time, is very smooth and easy. There’s an option to save your password, if that’s your kind of thing. The User Interface is tabbed at the top like some other applications, but unlike others, there’s small text that scrolls through the tabs at the top, working as a double-edged sword: it slows down load times, but it also offers you some text indication of what the tabs mean. It really doesn’t look that good though. The tabs at the top are: ‘Friends’, ‘Messages’, ‘Mentions’, ‘Favorites’, and ‘Search’. Hitting the Menu brings up: ‘sign out’, ‘update’, ‘profile’, ‘refresh’, and ‘settings’. Within settings, you’ve got the ability to change the timeline length, whether or not to load profile images, to enable notifications (which includes phone vibration and ringtone, but no LED), and to clear the cache. And if you don’t like your automatic notifications, it can be disabled as well.

  • User Interface: 2
  • Features: 3
  • Notifications: 1

AndTweet

2. AndTweet: When you go to download this app, it mentions within the description that it’s meant to be a lightweight Twitter application, so that’s how I’m going to judge it. Signing in for the first time is painless, and the timeline loads pretty quickly. The User Interface is actually pretty good, and easy to navigate. Hitting Menu brings up: ‘reload’, ‘friends’, ‘mentions’, ‘messages’, ‘search’, and ‘Preferences’. Also pleasantly surprising, is that AndTweet actually offers variable themes. There aren’t many, and all they really do is actually just change the font size of the timeline, but still, it’s there. The three to choose from within the Theme area are: small, standard, and large. There’s also a LightTheme option within the main part of the preferences section, which if you select, changes the default color scheme of the timeline. While it’s normally a black background with white text above, selecting this theme will alter it to a white background with black lettering. I wanted to check the small theme, because my eyes are pretty good, and it does indeed make everything considerably smaller, but it’s still easily readable. Preferences is actually pretty bare, with changeable notifications and selectable automatic updates. Because AndTweet is a lightweight app, there isn’t any way to see Twitter user’s pictures within the timeline, because this would slow down load times.

  • User Interface: 3
  • Features: 3
  • Notifications: 1

I Tweet2

1. I Tweet!: I’m just going to go right out and say it: this would have been in the Top 5, if the application developers were on top of updates. As you’ll see in this mini-review, I was really, really surprised by this application. Even if it does start off rocky. Trying to sign into the application for the first time was a pain and a half. There is an option to save your password, but if you don’t select the box to do so, then the password text entry box doesn’t highlight, which made me think I couldn’t input my password without having the application save it. It took me a minute to realize that I could still input my password, even if it wasn’t highlighted, but you can’t delete text within it. If you make a mistake and need to delete, you need to highlight the ‘save password’ box, and then you can do whatever you like. Very strange. Once you succeed in signing in, you’re brought to a screen with a blue bird, your screen name for Twitter, and ‘sign in’ underneath that. Even though I had the app remember my password, once I clicked on ‘sign in’, it took me to another screen where I was prompted to input my password. So, by now I’m frustrated, but I press on. Oh, and it offers to remember your password yet again, on that last input screen. The initial load-time is very quick, and includes pictures of Twitter users. The User Interface is bold and striking, the majority of colors black and blue with a white background where tweets appear in the timeline. The top of the application is tabbed, with options for ‘Tweets’, ‘Messages’, ‘Users’, and ‘Favorites’. Selecting on the user tab brings up your profile, and even more selectable options at the bottom. I found that each of these tabs actually has more selectable options at the bottom. In Users, you can select: ‘profile’, ‘following’, and ‘followers’. In Messages tab you can select: ‘sent’ and ‘received’. Tweets tab has: ‘all tweets’, ‘replies’, and ‘my tweets’. Hitting the Menu key will bring you: ‘tweet’, ‘refresh’, ‘search’, ‘more’, settings’, and ‘sign out’. Selecting ‘more’ will bring up another two options: ‘go to user’ and ‘public timeline’. In settings there is an option to change your theme from light to dark; change font size from small, medium, to large; and options to display title or friendly names of twitter contacts. Notifications include phone vibration and LED color, with the ability to change the LED color to red, magenta, blue, cyan, green, or yellow. There is also customizable ringtones. You can also choose to have notifications check for the timeline, new replies, or new messages. You are also given many options for both URL shortener and photo upload service. And finally, you can even toggle whether or not tweets get queued, if the initial sending doesn’t work for some reason.

  • User Interface: 5
  • Features: 5
  • Notifications: 5

You’re probably asking yourself why I put the Top 5 at the bottom of this extremely long article. The truth is, I fought with myself on whether or not to put them at the top, and just give everyone the goods right from the start. The reason I decided against this, is because I feel like you should look at ever Twitter app, even if you already know there’s better ones somewhere else. Developers work long and hard on these things, and even if they don’t please me (or even Mike), an app like Twoid might be just what you’re looking for. But, let me stop bothering you, and tell you how this next part is going to work. These are the Top 5. I judged them, Mike judged them, and our two outside reviewers (consumers) judged them. Again, you can find Mike’s reviews here. As for the two consumer reviews, I’m going to input their results into each of the apps reviews below, italicized, so that you can see their bottom line. So, here we go.

The Top 5

TwitterRide

5. TwitterRide: The User Interface is definitely one of the best to navigate through, and even offers the ability to alter the color/theme to which you are using. The options are pretty good here, even if it doesn’t give you an option to alter your photo upload or URL shortening service. Instead, it just uses its own native application. Personally, as I tried to use it, I was never able to see my own profile, as it repeatedly told me that it was unavailable. This issue was actually repeated with our outside reviewer as well. Notifications wise, it has the standard auto notifications which you can alter time-wise, the ability to refresh at start-up like a few others, and even to refresh the timeline right after you’ve submitted your own tweet.

  • User Interface: 4
  • Features: 4
  • Notifications: 3

Yu Suenaga: “If I were to pick another app next to Seesmic, it would be this one. It may not be as fully featured, but it has a nice look to it, and will definitely get the job done for your daily Twitter fix.”

Dakota Summer: “I like the UI, and the status bubble was cool, even if it did some times get in the way while I was scrolling. Landscape mode had a bit of a lag to it, but not a deal breaker.

Twidgit

4. Twidgit:  Let’s go ahead and let everyone know that, while this is essentially an application, it’s meant to be more like a widget than anything else. You set it up on the homescreen, and the small widget will update in real-time as the day progresses, and depending on how you have your notifications set up. The UI is minimalistic, yet robust enough that you can do all of your replies, retweets, and direct messages right from the Twitter contact’s tweet. It’s a small asterisk that appears at the top right of each tweet, and upon selecting it a pop-up menu brings you the list of options available. You can alter the notification frequency, as well as how you are notified by the phone: silent, vibrate, LED, sound, vibrate and sound, vibrate and LED, LED and sound, or all three. Not as robust as we would like, but we’re sure that Twidgit is meant to be lightweight, so we’ll let it slide because of that fantastic widget.

  • User Interface: 4
  • Features: 3
  • Notifications: 3

Yu Suenaga: “Twidgit s very minimalistic and doesn’t have all the features that someone might be looking for; but if you’re looking for an app that will keep you posted, and you don’t care about all those fancy features, this is the way to go.

Dakota Summer: “This is my favorite app. That widget is small and to the point, and it pleased me that there wasn’t any lag that I noticed while scrolling through my tweets.

Twidroid

3. Twidroid: I like this app, just like everyone else out there, but I think that the UI is just a bit too plain, especially compared to the competition. AlsoWith that being said, I really enjoyed using Twidroid, as the application has a great feature set, the notifications work well, and everything about it just runs smoothly. I think the only real downfall to this application is that it does cost to utilize every feature within the app. While that may not be a big deal to everyone, perhaps getting the same features for free with other applications may make people look another way. Twidroid does let you manage multiple accounts, and it does it very well. Notifications are standard, going as far as vibrate, LED, silent, or vibrate, LED, sound. There are also customizable themes in the paid version. It’s also worth noting that on my unlocked Hero, the full retail price of the application is actually $5.11. A bit high, if you ask me.

  • User Interface: 4
  • Features: 3 for free version; 4 for paid version
  • Notifications: 3

Yu Suenaga: “I did not really like this app, considering that you can use the same features in other apps for free, that Twidroid wants you to pay for.

Dakota Summer: “Swift and Twidroid are equal to me, but if I had to pick one, it’d be Swift. Because it has more options, it’s free, and I just liked the layout more. Did I mention it’s free?

Seesmic

2. Seesmic: I really enjoy Seesmic, but I think the thing that turns me off the most about it are those huge tabs at the top. Don’t get me wrong, I really enoy the tabbed navigation, but they take up so much screen real estate that I think it could have been toned down a bit. Feature wise, Seesmic has it all. Including YouTube for video sharing is huge in my opinion, as a lot of people have YouTube accounts by now. There are many photo uploading services available as well, along with URL shorteners. There’s also geo-tagging service, which is also available in some other apps, but Seesmic’s sleek User Interface just makes it so much easier to use. You can turn background notifications on and off like every other app, but we can choose which notifications (like DMs, replies, timeline) that we’d like to be notified as well. Notifications are LED, silent, ringtone, and vibrate, mixed together fairly well.

  • User Interface: 5
  • Features: 4
  • Notifications: 4

Yu Suenaga: “I would say that Seesmic is one of the best Twitter apps out there. They did a great job with making the UI very user-friendly and accessible, but with a great feature list.

Dakota Summer: “I believe Seesmic is the worst over-all app available. The UI just seems dull to me. And while landscape mode is great, it was just too laggy for me to use.

Swift

1. Swift:  Swift’s UI is just fantastic. While it focuses on the timeline, which loads very quickly and does include pictures, Swift tries to maximize screen realty while still focusing on the user and navigation. You can reach the navigation buttons by selecting the small icon right under your username, which will guide you to wherever you want to go with ease and speed. Making it even easier, there’s always the new tweet button, so that you can update to your heart’s content where ever you are in the application. The features aren’t as robust as we’d like, but they’re strong nonetheless. The standard URL shortener is present, along with photo and video uploading services. You can also connect using SSL to Twitter’s servers, for a more secure connection. Again though, this does slow down load times. The notifications are a shortcoming though, as it only offers ringtone and vibration. You can change the notifications for DMs, timeline, and replies or mentions.

  • User Interface: 5
  • Features: 4
  • Notifications: 3

Yu Suenaga: “The UI for Swift is very nice and clean, and super fast. But as far as features go, it just doesn’t make the grade.

Dakota Summer: “Like I said, Swift is great, and I’d choose it over most of the others, but it just doesn’t have the greatest feature selection, which is a real shame.

When you compile a list like this, there are bound to be differences, just as our two outside reviewers show above. I’m sure that me and Mike will differentiate as well. The truth is, you can’t accept an application as one way or another without trying them out for yourself, and while it took some time to do this, we certainly hope that you give them a shot for yourself. Of course, I don’t recommend necessarily trudging through the bottom of the heap here, but hey, if that’s what makes you happy, then more power to you. If you have any questions about anything, or have any insight about a particular application, you know where the comment button is, and we welcome any and all.

Secondly, Mike and I would love some extra feedback regarding the concept of this article. Would you like to see more “Rolling Up Our Sleeves” features, regarding other frequently seen applications within the Marketplace? If you do, let us know. And not just here. Make sure you don’t forget to head on over to the Gadget Guru’s site and check out the rest of the list, and leave your feedback there, too.

And lastly, I want to personally thank you for making it all the way down here. I hope you feel accomplished for reading several thousand words of text, and most importantly, I hope we may have helped in one way or another.