Despite recent user uproar over the loss of Instagram images displaying on Twitter (photos posted via Instagram now open in—gasp!—a separate window), Twitter remains one of the most active and attractive social networks. The mobile experience remains key to its success, which relies on short, punchy, and often spur-of-the-moment chatter. The official Twitter Android app (free) balances simplicity with essential features, such as the ability to manage more than one account and built-in photo editing tools, well enough to keep it relevant among contenders. It also doesn’t hurt that Twitter purchased its main competitor TweetDeck thus preventing that app from outpacing the namesake Twitter app.
Stability and reliability also count for something, and, while Twitter delivers well enough on both counts, it’s still far from perfect on either—that’s a big reason we’ve scored Twitter a four out of five stars. The site clogs up and goes down from time to time. Drafted tweets sometimes hang in the ether until you delete them and start afresh. But all in all, the app loads and refreshes quickly and smoothly and keeps you connected to your Twitter friends.
Professional social media-ites, however, should keep their Android loaded with a social aggregator or social media manager app, such as TweetDeck (which is also owned by Twitter, but sees many fewer updates than the dedicated Twitter app) or Seesmic. Both are one-stop-shops for keeping pace with not just multiple Twitter accounts, but all your faces across various social networks.
Design and Features
A clean user experience and smart design put the Twitter Android app in the big leagues. In the early days of Twitter, its own apps weren’t as competitive and feature-rich as those third parties built for the social network. After three major iterations for the Android version (this review looks at version 3.6) the official Twitter-branded app is the way to go for many users. Best of all, if you don’t have a Twitter account and aren’t interested in joining, you can still use the app to search and read the site.
More likely than not, though, if you’re downloading the app, you do have a Twitter user name and password, and perhaps more than one. Sign in with one of them to start, and you can add more accounts thereafter. After you’ve set up all your accounts, you can toggle between them quickly and easily. It’s a highly efficient system, and one of the best features of the app.
Design and Photo Effects
Rather than bombard your eyes with a cacophony of color, the Twitter app sticks to a more sophisticated color scheme of black and white, reserving muted shades of digital bluebird blue for the top spanner and accents only . It looks practical without being too serious, a simple design that takes into consideration the growing number of business users and content on the site. The app’s look is sharp enough to still be appealing to people who use Twitter for personal or casual reasons, too.
A nice touch on the interactive side: Double-tapping the home icon at the lower left forces the window to scroll back to the top automatically, which means less finger flicking for users. The same function of auto-scrolling back to the top works on the @-reply page, too.
The newest feature, photo filters, mimics the basic functionality of photo-sharing site Instagram to a large extent, and it’s only available on Twitter’s mobile apps, not the website. Snap a photo using your Android phone or upload one from your existing images, and offers dramatic, digital filter effects, cropping and resizing tools, and an auto-enhance button that gently increases the sharpness and colors.
Twitter has eight photo effects in all: vignette, black and white, warm, cool, vintage, cinematic, happy, and gritty. A ninth option in the interface is “No Filter,” which I’m going to say doesn’t count. You can see all the photo filters applied to the same image in a grid, helping you decide which one is best among your choices, which is quite different from the Instagram experience in which you swipe through previews but can’t see side-by-side comparisons. Twitter also does offer the ability to page through the images one by one in a slideshow, if you prefer (I don’t).
Each account has its own options panel, where you can access your profile, account settings, user lists that you follow, favorite tweets, and drafts of tweets that haven’t been sent yet. Drafts would be one of my favorite features of the Twitter app, except that it’s slightly confusing when you look at the options that are available, and it doesn’t offer the ability to schedule when a draft will post.
It’s like you should be able to enter the draft area and write a message to save as a draft, but once you compose your message, the options are “send” or “cancel.” There’s no “save as a draft” immediately apparent; there is an option to “save as draft” if you select cancel, but I hate that it’s not where I expect it to be. If you select send, the message goes live immediately. Tweets also save as drafts when the site goes down or you have connectivity problems. But in my experience, these drafts can sometimes hang in limbo for eternity, never posting no matter how long I wait after regaining service. All that’s left to do is copy the text, delete the original message, and paste the content into a new tweet.
The Twitter-Branded App
The official Twitter app for Android is a well-established and reliable app for Twitter. It loads and refreshes quickly, seldom crashes, and covers the essential things a non-professional tweeter would want to do on Twitter from an Android device, like post photos and receive notifications of new @ messages. It’s not flooded with features, as some of the aggregator apps are, but balances goodies with functionality well for a mobile app.
The Twitter app for Android is ideal for average or casual Twitter users, but for handling accounts across multiple social media sites—such as Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and the rest—aggregator tools like Hootsuite and Seesmic are still more efficient. Professional tweeters should stick with those apps.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc