iPhone Gems: The Complete Guide to All 33 Twitter Apps
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Tweetsville ($4) is another Twitter client in the same general style as Tweetie and Twitterfon. Separate sections are provided for your general timeline of users you are following, direct messages, replies and favorites. The initial button layout provides access to the general timeline, direct messages, trends, and search, while the More button can be used to access replies, favorites, your own posting history and the Tweetsville settings section. Like Twitterfon, Tweetsville also provides unread counters over the appropriate buttons to indicate any unread tweets in each section, however it does not highlight the new tweets.
Unlike other Twitter apps, Tweetsville allows you to reorganize the bottom button layout in much the same way the built-in iPod app does. Tapping More and then the Edit button which appears in the top-right corner allows you to reorganize the four primary buttons shown on the button bar.
Direct messages are displayed in Tweetsville in much the same way as Twitterfon and the built-in SMS app, with the timeline showing only the most recent message from each user. Tapping on the message opens an iChat-style conversation window displaying the DM conversation.
Tweetsville provides the ability to display Twitter trends and perform general searches of your own. In addition, however, Tweetsville also provides a significantly enhanced search capability that can be accessed from the “Advanced” button in the top-right corner of the Search screen. From here, you can refine your search by looking for the absence or presence of certain words, searching for specific phrases, searching by Twitter user, geographic location, date range, and even filtering by whether a tweet contains specific emoticons or links. Unfortunately, Tweetsville does not provide any means to save these searches, or even call them up from a search history.
Viewing an individual tweet provides options to send a public reply, re-post the tweet, send a direct message to the originator, mark the tweet as a favorite or view the user’s profile.
From the user’s profile page, you can view their page on the mobile-optimized Twitter website using the built-in browser, view their previous tweets, view their favorites, or view who they are following or their followers. You can also choose to follow or stop following the current user.
In Tweetsville, links within tweets are active from the main timeline views as well as when viewing a specific tweet. While this may be convenient, it also means you have to be slightly more careful where you tap to open a tweet, since tapping on a highlighted link will take you directly to that link—either another Twitter user’s profile page if you’re tapping on a user ID, or to the appropriate web page in the built-in browser if you’re tapping a URL. The built-in browser does not provide any landscape viewing mode, nor any integration for e-mailing or reposting links—only a button to open the page in Mobile Safari is available.
Tweetsville’s settings are accessed from within the application itself, and provide the ability to change the Tweetsville timeline theme between a simple in-line theme or an iChat-style “chat bubbles” theme, as well as configuring a different Twitter account and choosing whether to display screen names or use IDs.
Tweetsville’s most appealing feature seems to be its robust advanced search capabilities, providing simple access to advanced search features without having to deal with complicated search tags within a text-only search field. Users who do a lot of searching on Twitter may find this feature alone makes Tweetsville stand out from some of the other Twitter apps. However, beyond this specific feature Tweetsville provides very little to justify its $4 price tag for general Twitter use in comparison to other less expensive and even free offerings. iLounge Rating: B.
Twittelator is available in two versions: Twittelator, a free “Lite” version and the $5 Twittelator Pro. Both provide an extensive feature set and a slightly different layout from the other Twitter applications that we have looked at. Rather than using a button bar at the bottom of the screen, Twittelator organizes your timelines into “groups” which are accessed from a list and browsed in a manner similar to iPod playlists.
In addition to the usual lists for your normal timeline, Twittelator also includes options for viewing the public timeline, favorite tweets for yourself or your friends, recent tweets from specific friends, and a view for “featured tweeters.” Twittelator also provides the ability to “bookmark” specific people you are following for quick access to their specific timelines.
When viewing a timeline, you can tap on the reply link to reply to a tweet, or double-tap on a tweet to open a link from within that tweet. Tapping on a user’s avatar from the timeline view will display more information about that particular user, including his profile information, who he is following, and links to reply to him, send him a direct message, bookmark him, view his favorites, homepage, recent tweets, or choose to follow or stop following him.
Unlike Twitterrific, where the ad-supported free version is essentially identical to the paid version, Twittelator Pro provides significantly more features in comparison to its “Lite” version. Pro features include support for multiple Twitter accounts, the ability to update your Twitter location using the iPhone’s GPS, customizable color themes, support for emoji and other glyphs, viewing trends and considerably more.
When posting a tweet, you can post a map link to your present location or post a link to a photo either from your iPhone camera or your saved photo library. A friends button is also provided to allow you to look up and insert a reference to another Twitter user you are following.
If you’re using Twittelator Pro you can also access a library of glyph characters to insert in your post. Note, however, that these may not render properly in other Twitter clients.
Both Twittelator versions provide an advanced searching interface similar to that found in Tweetsville. Tapping the “Advanced” button from the search window reveals additional searching options, including advanced word and phrase searching, searching on screen names or tags, and searching by date, location, or other options.
Twittelator’s options screen can be accessed by tapping the gear button in the top-right corner of the main Groups listing. Twittelator’s options are relatively basic; Twittelator Pro provides significantly more here, including options for changing your color theme, controlling the number of tweets that are loaded on startup, disabling auto-capitalization and auto-correction when posting, using higher resolution photos and different photo sharing services, plus much more.
Both versions of Twittelator provide one additional unique feature in the form of an “Emergency Button”—when this feature is enabled, a “panic button” appears in the bottom button bar which will automatically post a link to your current location with an emergency message to your Twitter timeline. Since we’re talking about posting an emergency message to Twitter, rather than sending an e-mail or making an auto phone call, the usefulness of this feature is going to be largely dependent on who your followers are. Realistically, however, this feature seems like more of a gimmick than anything else; common sense would suggest that one would be more sensible to use the iPhone to actually call 911 in an emergency situation, rather than posting to Twitter for help. If your followers include a local police department or two, perhaps you’ll feel otherwise.
Both versions of Twittelator also provide support for posting tweets from Mobile Safari and other external applications. Like Tweetie and TwitterFon, a Safari bookmarklet must be created manually for Safari integration, and third-party applications must specifically integrate with Twittelator in order to use it from these applications.
Twittelator (Lite) is fully functional by itself, although other than a unique interface it doesn’t really provide much in the way of features compared to other Twitter applications, and has clearly been released as a “demo” for its big brother. Twittelator Pro, on the other hand, clearly tries to be the swiss-army knife of Twitter apps on the iPhone, packing a multitude of features. In our opinion, however, the number of bells and whistles in Pro, combined with the overall interface design, makes it feel like a much too cumbersome and cluttered application. This is exacerbated by confusing interface inconsistencies which make the application frustrating to navigate; for instance, when viewing a timeline, the “Groups” button always returns you to the top-level Groups listing, rather than the last screen you were viewing, with no other option provided to simply return to the previous screen. Therefore, if you were viewing a user’s profile page and choose to view a list of their favorite tweets, instead of being returned to the user’s profile page when you are done viewing that timeline, you are taken back to the main top-level groups listing, effectively losing your place. The “lite” version of Twittelator may be worth a look considering its free price tag, but in our opinion Twittelator Pro needs some serious additional polish for its $5 asking price. iLounge Rating (Twittelator): B-. iLounge Rating: (Twittelator Pro): C+.
Tweetion ($4) places an emphasis on searching Twitter. When you run Tweetion, the first screen you are presented with is a search screen, allowing you to enter a query or tap on a trending topic. Tabs appear at the top of the search screen for entering your query, viewing your query results, or viewing a history of previous searches.
Buttons at the bottom allow you to view recent messages from those you are following in a timeline view, adjust the application’s settings, view or change your profile picture, or access additional views.
You can compose a new tweet by tapping on the compose button in the top-left corner of any screen. This screen allows you to attach a photo link from either the camera or saved photos roll. Unlike other Twitter apps, however, there is no ability to post location information. One unique feature of Tweetion is that it allows you to also optionally update your Facebook status when posting a tweet, provided you have entered your Facebook credentials in the application’s settings. Since Facebook provides its own Twitter integration that can be used for this purpose, this feature is only marginally useful in that it allows you to control which tweets are also applied to your Facebook status.
The timeline view within Tweetion is extremely spread out, making it difficult to view even two tweets on a single screen without scrolling. Links can be opened in Tweetion’s built-in browser, and individual tweets can be marked as favorites or replied to, but that’s about it. Oddly, a shamrock icon/button is displayed to indicate whether or not you are following a user, and you can follow or stop following a user simply by tapping on this button. This is a completely non-intuitive use of symbology and it took a bit of testing to figure out what the shamrock button actually does. Browsing Tweetion’s built-in help does explain this function, however this is listed under the FAQ section at the bottom, rather than in the help section on actually viewing messages.
Double-tapping a user’s avatar will offer to either display her bio or her recent tweets. Their bio is shown as a basic page with no other options, and recent tweets are opened in a web browser view, rather than in Tweetion’s own timeline view.
Tweetion’s settings screen is similarly unappealing in its layout and design, with options again spread way too far apart to be particularly useful, requiring excessive scrolling.
The fourth button, labelled profile, seems to exist primarily for viewing or changing your Twitter profile picture. While this is another feature unique to Tweetion, the layout and implementation is again quite odd.
For some reason, Tweetion is also one of the slowest applications we’ve seen—it’s extremely sluggish when changing pages or views. This may be due to animated effects used for switching between screens, however we have seen similar effects successfully executed in other applications without the lag time exhibited by Tweetion. Ultimately, Tweetion comes across as very poorly-designed in comparison to the other Twitter apps we’ve looked at, and while this may be understandable for a free application, it’s almost laughable for a $4 asking price. iLounge Rating: D-.
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