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Top four: the best Twitter clients for each smartphone OS
- — 21 May, 2013 20:38
In March, Twitter announced that it would be shutting down its TweetDeck iOS and Android apps. That's bad news for TweetDeck devotees, but good news for Twitter--I'm betting that the social network plans to funnel users to its own app, which offers basic functionality but allows the company to display paid tweets (better known as ads).
Although I love Twitter's main app for its simplicity and ease of use, that doesn't mean it's for everyone. TweetDeck offered features such as scheduled posts, multiple-account management, and Facebook integration. If you're missing those extra functionalities, you may want to look for an alternative.
No matter which smartphone platform you use, there's a Twitter app for you. Which app you choose ultimately depends on what you want to do with your Twitter life--whether it's reading tweets while you're on the road or managing five different company accounts--but we selected a few of the best.
iOS Twitter power users should check out Echofon, a clean yet customizable free universal app that can handle multiple Twitter accounts seamlessly. Echofon, which is also available for Android and Mac OS X, has everything you need in a Twitter app, including a fully customizable interface, push notifications, and a "signature" syncing feature that keeps unread tweets synced between your devices. If you're halfway through reading your Twitter stream on your iPhone, you can open your stream on your Mac and keep reading right where you left off.
My favorite thing about Echofon is its customizable interface. The app lets you pick a theme--the default is "plain," but you can choose from black, grey, blue, red, pink, purple, green, orange, and brown--as well as the font size (between 12- and 20-point), the username display style, and whether photos appear directly in your timeline. You can also choose to have tweets stream in real time, as opposed to your manually refreshing them by pulling the stream down (although you can do that, as well).
Echofon is one of the nicest iOS Twitter apps, with seamless multiple-account functionality, the ability to create lists, and push notifications every time you get an @ mention, receive a direct message, have a tweet favorited, or gain a follower. But its real strengths are its live-streaming capability and its unread-tweet syncing feature, especially if you like to switch between devices quickly. The biggest drawback is the ads, which are more obtrusive than usual, but you can get rid of them by purchasing the $5 Pro version.
I'll admit it: I'm not a fan of most Twitter apps, no matter how many features they have, because they're simply not functional. Many Twitter management apps that have extra bells and whistles (such as multiple-account management, lists and profile editing, muting, and easy media uploading) are difficult to glance at and actually read. But that isn't the case with Twicca. This full-featured Android-only Twitter client is simple, lightweight, and extremely usable.
What I like most about Twicca is its readability. Sure, it's not as customizable as some Twitter apps are--it has only two themes, dark and light--but it boasts a neat feature that helps you scroll through tweets quickly and efficiently. For each account you follow, you can pick a color label (the app offers ten colors), which then allows you to prioritize what you look at when you're viewing your stream. I like to color-code my tweets into work and personal groups, but you can mix up the color labels however you want.
Twicca may not be outwardly customizable, but you can tweak some settings. For example, you can choose whether to see all profile pics as high-res, and you can download third-party plug-ins to extend the functionality of the app. Plug-ins available include Favstar.fm, Twitpic, and a translation helper by Google Translate. Twicca does have some drawbacks--its multiple-account management isn't as seamless as I'd like, since it has no individual push notifications for each account (only the default account)--but overall it's a great app that offers welcome relief from Twitter overload.
Windows Phone 8: TweetCaster
While Twitter apps abound on iOS and Android, they're not quite as pervasive on the Windows Phone store. But that doesn't mean they don't exist--TweetCaster, for example, is a free multiplatform app that works well and looks great on Windows Phone 8.
TweetCaster, which is also available for iOS and Android, offers several features that Twitter users will want in their back pocket. It includes multiple-account management (with Facebook integration), list creation and advanced profile management, and Instapaper/ReadItLater functionality. TweetCaster looks good on WP8, with a dark gray background, customizable font sizes, and, of course, scrollable screens. The main TweetCaster page features several screens: timeline, mentions, messages, favorites, and lists. Tap the three-dot icon at the bottom of the screen, though, and you'll see several more features, including trends, people (see those you're following and those who are following you), and a "nearby" option that shows tweets from your area as well as a people search, suggested users, browsable interests, and saved searches.
Although TweetCaster has a lot of functionality for a WP8 Twitter client, it's not quite as awesome as its iOS and Android counterparts. One of this version's main omissions (that the Android client has) is the ability to schedule tweets for future posting. However, if you're a nonprofessional Twitter user, TweetCaster for WP8 should have everything you need.
BlackBerry 10: Twitter
Not everyone needs advanced Twitter functionality; some people just want to read through their feed and occasionally tweet while on the go. For those people, Twitter's main Twitter client is actually a great choice. Twitter is a free app (without ads!) available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, and BlackBerry 10. Plus, the BB10 app has recently gotten a new feature: Universal Search, which lets users see more content (including related profiles and searches) when they search.
Now, it might seem like a bit of a cop-out to call Twitter's basic-function app one of the best Twitter apps available, but I honestly like this app a lot, especially on BB10. It's a great-looking app with high-resolution profile photos and a simple, easy-to-read interface. Although some other apps, such as Twicca, offer extra readability functionality, the Twitter app is definitely the easiest app to read efficiently, thanks to its clean, black-on-white theme. (When I'm driving down the highway, this is the app I'd rather be glancing at--not some complicated management app.)
The Twitter app provides simple functionality: You can tweet (with photos and location), edit your profile, retweet and reply to others, and find new content and people to follow via the "discover" tab. On your main feed, you can tap and hold any tweet to bring up a menu that lets you reply, retweet, favorite, copy, or share that tweet via text, email, or BBM. You'll find no multiple-account management in the Twitter app, but if you're not a professional user, that should be no issue. Twitter's overall strength is in its simplicity, and its app reflects that.