Testing Twitter Apps for Android

I’ve had my HTC Hero now for about 3 weeks and I’ve already flashed it to @nprussell‘s excellent VillainROM 3.x (Android 2.1 “beta”).

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve become a bit of a convert to the whole Twitter phenomenon – very late to the party I know but hey …! Anyway I’ve been trying to find a decent Twitter app for the Android which I liked as I have several accounts and I wasn’t thrilled with the default HTC Peep which is single account only.

So my criteria started as just “find a multi account app, preferably free so I can play” which led me to …

Seesmic

This is a great app with a very clean interface and very easy to read being black text on a white background – now that I require glasses this is important to me for obvious reasons.

Seesmic has been my default app from day one but I never felt truly happy with it. In all honesty it’s a bit boring to look at, but it gets the job done and that is really all that matters.

But like a magpie, I decided to look for something more shiny and so onto …

Tweetcaster

You may have seen a tweet from me recently  that I’d got a free copy of Tweetcaster for publishing the tweet saying I’d got the free copy (if you see what I mean). Actually I felt very cheated as all one gets is the free, adware supported version whereas I (and others from what I can see) believed that I would receive the paid for Pro version.

Anyway this is a very pretty app and works as it should. But I returned to Seesmic fairly quickly as a) you have to wait ages for the splash page to disappear so you can see the tweets and b) I could read more tweets per page  than Tweetcaster which puts an advert at the bottom of the screen blocking a tweet. Yes you can close it, but it annoyed me so I uninstalled it.

Swift

Next came Swift which is now owned by Hootsuite, the brilliant web based client that I use (you can schedule tweets which is incredibly useful). I’m sorry to say that I didn’t like this at all – for me even worse that HTC Peep. A small status bar at the top with icons which were too small for my not too fat fingers. Uninstalled rapidly. Oh and single client only, which had I realised initially meant that I probably wouldn’t have installed it to start with.

Twicca

I read a rave review about Twicca this morning and decided to give it a go despite the fact that it is only a single account app – and I wasn’t disappointed.

This is a super app with a very clever user interface. The black background can be a bit tiring to read but that won’t bother many people I’m sure. One thing I love is the ability to set Twicca up so that particular tweeters that you follow can be colour coded with a vertical bar beside their tweet. This is fantastically useful if, like me, you are waiting for a particular announcement for some such event/person to appear in the time line.

The downside is that this is a single account app and it feels a little rough around the edges still – hardly surprising as it is published as a beta version. But if it had been just a wee bit better, I’d have settled for this and used HTC Peep for my work a/c as that account isn’t used as much. I’m sure that development of Twicca will continue apace and if/when they go multi-account I’ll be back to do an extended test. This is staying on my phone so the Market can tell me when there is an update.

Touiteur

One of the comments in a story about Seesmic I recently read mentioned Touiteur. Having a French name, I almost felt honour bound to take a look. And I’m really glad I did. It has a great user interface and can be very colourful if you choose. I must confess I was almost 100% sure that this was going to be my app of choice (it came down to this and Twicca for me) but I was niggled by the fact that I could either have everyone’s tweets in graduated gray (not unattractive at all) or they could be colour coded automatically by the app so that each tweeter was allocated a colour which was used for all their tweets. To my eyes this looked garish, and I kept harking back to Twicca’s feature of choosing to colour an individual tweeter, i.e. I choose who I want coloured.

Then, miraculously, LevelUp Studio delivered an update to Touiteur a couple of hours ago and I went digging in the settings to see what had changed. And I stumbled across how to colour code a single tweeter. Yippee! It was almost certainly there in the original version I downloaded and I was being blind, but I don’t care as I have it working now 🙂

Conclusions

My first surprise was just how many good Twitter apps there are for the Android. I’m confident that anyone should be able to find an app that meets their needs.

My second surprise was how clever these apps are becoming with respect to the user interface. Twicca is leading the way here but Touiteur and Tweetcaster aren’t far behind.

But my keeper is Touiteur for the time being. But as I said, I’m still monitoring Twicca so Touiteur can’t afford to rest on it’s laurels.