Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

Summary: Looking for a new Twitter client for your Android device? Here's a look at some of the most popular ones available.

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Recently I have been noticing an unfortunate trend with my Twitter client of choice, Twidroyd. It's an excellent application, with all of the features that I have come to expect in a good Twitter client. However, there have been issues where Twitter disabled the client and other UberMedia apps from accessing the service due to violation of policy.

In addition, a number of bugs have crept in with new updates that make the app somewhat unusable - like being able to click on a tweet and reply to it, or the list of messages directed to the user instead shows up as a blank page--you need to exit and re-enter the app in order to get the function back. It appears to be totally random when these bugs will manifest. I'm sure the developer will work to correct these bugs, but until then I cannot keep using an application that is not functional.

Shopping around for a new Twitter client for your smartphone or tablet can be an exercise in frustration. For one thing, if you already have an application that you like and feel comfortable with, you don't really want to start looking for another. Think of your favorite brand of toothpaste or shampoo, and then imagine that it's suddenly been taken off of the market.

There's also the matter of dealing with a fairly large assortment of alternatives. It's difficult to know where to start, what to trust, and going through each application to determine which of them has the features you want/need and which ones are the easiest to use. And if you're anything like me, aesthetics play a huge role in the decision-making process. It has to look good while doing its job.

I decided that I would begin my selection process by popularity in terms of positive reviews and number of downloads. Keep in mind that this doesn't always work; just because an application is the most popular doesn't mean that you the user will appreciate it the same way all of those other people did. This allowed me to narrow down the choices to four strong candidates.

My required features were: Multiple accounts, URL shorteners, picture uploading, spam reporting that also blocks the user that sent the spam, the ability to disable sending when hitting the enter key, thumbnail previews of images, the ability to reply to all people mentioned in a tweet, and separate tabs for your timeline, replies, and direct messages. I was willing to shell out a few bucks for a decent client if it met all of my needs.

The first on my list, and ostensibly the most popular Twitter client in the world, was Tweetdeck. On the Windows and Mac platforms, Tweetdeck is an extraordinarily powerful application for Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Google Buzz and FourSquare. It is not as powerful on the Android platform, however. There is no thumbnail preview capability, and the interface is fairly dull. It is free, however, and that is something that appeals to many users.

Next on the list was TweetCaster by Handmark. TweetCaster is an excellent Twitter client. It looks sharp, is easy to use, has all of the features I mentioned above and also has some extras like ZipIt: the ability to censor tweets from users without having to actually unfollow them. Their tweets appear in your timeline as a zipper icon. The free application has a banner ad on the bottom of the screen. The paid version gets rid of the banner ad.

I also took another look at Plume, formerly knwon as Touiteur. It's a nice client and has all of the features I liked. The free version puts an ad at the top of your Twitter feed. The paid version removes this ad. I prefer muted colors, and while the default color scheme was a little off-putting, it was easy to customize it.

Finally I tried out Seesmic. When I first started using Twitter several years ago, I was using an application for the Adobe AIR platform called Twhirl. It was purchased in 2008, and development continued under the Seesmic masthead. The Seesmic client has a subdued, simple interface. It has all of the features I want, it's fast, and very easy to use. It's also free--there are no banner ads, either.

I thought there was a glitch with the spam-reporting feature; normally when you report spam, the user account is blocked and their tweets disappear from your timeline and replies. When I blocked a spammer, their tweet still showed up in the replies tab. It turns out that simply clearing the cache corrected the issue. When I mentioned it to their Twitter support account they replied immediately--on Easter Sunday, no less. That's excellent service for a free client.

When it came down to making my choice, I was torn between TweetCaster and Seesmic. All features being equal, the deciding factor was inevitably price. I have no problem paying for applications that suit my needs and perform their tasks adequately. But when both applications meet my specifications, the free one won out. So now I am using Seesmic as my Twitter application of choice.

Now, keep in mind that this is my personal choice. Everyone has their own sense of aesthetics, and what appeals to me might not appeal to others. As in many facets of life, personal choice is the deciding factor when specific capabilities are removed from the equation.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Security

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12 comments
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  • Interesting side note...

    This article was written and posted entirely using my new Motorola Xoom tablet and wireless Apple keyboard. I'll be doing a comparison article of usability for Xoom vs. Galaxy Tab 7 this week.
    Scott Raymond
  • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

    You should try Twicca beta - simple but very powerful client. Think it could be what you're looking for.
    ewqaewqa
  • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

    Tweetcaster rules! I love Tweetcaster. Glad to see it was at the top :)
    Violet Blue
  • Is "Shakedown" the right word?

    Shakedown: Extortion, especially through blackmail; A thorough search; a frisk; A trial or test period, especially of a ship or aircraft; that tests the performance of a ship or aircraft. Maybe "shakeout" or "throwdown" would have been better. Or, better yet, the nice, simple, concise "comparison."
    levinson
    • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

      @levinson Actually, it was in line with the nautical term for the first run of a new ship - a shakedown cruise. Usually intended to shake out the bugs that might have been missed during construction, and to familiarize the crew with its operation.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakedown_cruise
      Scott Raymond
      • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

        @Scott Raymond : Which was part of the definition I listed. My point is still that it's the wrong word, this was a comparison, not a "shakedown" by any definition.
        levinson
      • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

        @levinson : If each contestant here was given a RW test-period, then those trials were 'shakedowns'. Per se. We can debate whether it's the perfect word-choice, but it's still plenty apt as a shorthand description of his quest.<br><br>And it's a decent article -- surprising, until I noted that Mr. Perlow's byline (and lovely photo) points to the 'Tech Broiler' section, only, and not to this piece. No doubt like many other ZDNet readers, I wiped my brow and said, "Phew!"<br><br>However, putting aside my taste in tech journos, I'd hate to find mere pedantry interfering with my acknowledgement of good work. It's one thing to be fussy about linguistics or writing style, quite another to be a supercilious dick.
        Justa Notherguy
      • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

        @Scott Raymond OK, then "shakedowns." Plural. No need to be nasty. And I see this lines up in the wrong place. Oh, well.
        levinson
  • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

    Twicca beta is my client of choice, sad to see it got missed out
    roystoned
    • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

      @roystoned I tried Twicca. The English translations for everything in the app were poorly done; and the settings were not intuitive. I found that even when I had it configured the way I wanted it still held no appeal for me at all. I personally didn't like it as a twitter app.
      Scott Raymond
      • RE: Twitter Clients for Android: A Shakedown

        @Scott Raymond The key advantage of Twicca, for me, is its combination of simplicity and power. It has a clean, simple, uncluttered interface, but it does everything you would expect a Twitter client to do and more. I'm not sure what part of the translations didn't make sense to you. It seems quite simple and straightforward to me, but then again I've been using it for a while. I try other clients from time to time, but they're always too busy or lacking in features.
        spifbv
  • Sparky Tweets

    I would like to recommend Sparky Tweets. It is very unique bringing your tweets to the home screen.
    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.sparkymobile.twitter
    rbdias