Personal Twitter Interface(s), i.e. "Twitter'action"

Following the introduction (and controversy) regarding iPhone Twitter client Tweetie 2 over the past several days, I thought I might share my own personal thoughts, feelings and preferences regarding my Twitter-interaction (contraction: twitter’action).

For, to best experience Twitter, especially when one has a large number of follows, one must consider using different tools for different jobs.

Louis Gray, whose own post on the subject inspired my post here, outlines why different clients work best for different uses.

First, consider the problems. Twitter, on its own, is a massive flood of sound-bites, bereft of organization, management or discipline. Twitter as a service is only now considering embedding some of the features that users have organically adopted and third party apps have made their mark with. First: how do you locate and attend to the information of interest? Next: how do you interact with that information, from following links to media to resharing it, from responding in the public time-line to engaging in one-on-one communications? Then: how do you take that information with you and access it on-the-go? Without even considering directories, analytics, fancy search functionality, bookmarklets, and other high-level applications, there are many options for managing Twitter and making it work for you.

Ultimately, your own preferences will dictate the services to which you regularly gravitate. Let me share the ones I use for Twitter’action. I am not including in this post the ways that I share into Twitter from outside of it. These are the apps I use for reading and interacting inside Twitter itself.

As a matter of background, I have tried most of the services available on my computer and several of the services available on iPhone, so please bear that in mind. Historically, I have tended to try services and then, after a while, gravitate back to the Twitter web because I value simplicity in my social web interactions.

BrizzlyRight now, though, I find that I am consistently using Brizzly for my web-based interaction with Twitter. Brizzly is a new service, still in beta, that incorporates many of the features users would like to see: multiple accounts; groups; autocomplete of contact names; an IM-like direct message box; a mute button(!); in-line media, including pictures and videos; a URL expander; a list of trending topics with explanations as to why (and some are pretty darn funny); saved searches; and, an endless page. Brizzly auto-refreshes the page without manual updates too.

Why are these features great? I love being able to switch with a single button between my Twitter accounts. I love being able to see pictures and videos in the line of tweets, without having to actually click on a link to get to them. I love being able to group my favorite twitter follows and quickly hone in on their information. I like to see my DM conversations in a stream. I like to be able to see the trends (without having to actually search and find them) and learn why they are trends without having to read the stream. And I like the auto-refresh – no more reloading every few minutes! While I haven’t used the “mute” feature (removes tweets from a particular user from the stream), I can imagine doing so.

I have become disenchanted with desktop clients – they tend to bog down my computer with extra processes and require me to manage multiple windows. For my time and money (free!), Brizzly is my hands-down favorite Twitter interface on my desktop and laptop. Brizzly is in closed beta, but I have a few invites left. If you would like one, please leave your email in the comments or send your email to me (check my contact page) and I will send one along.

The other piece of the puzzle for me is mobile Twitter. I find that I spend more time gazing at the stream during moments of down time while I am out and about. I use an iPhone, so my experience is limited to iPhone Twitter applications. I have used several of them, and I have now paired them down to two, with one add-on for push notification.

Tweetie 2My main Twitter app has been Tweetie, and is now Tweetie 2 ($2.99 in the App Store). Yes, I paid for both versions. Yes, I think it is worth it and have no qualms about sending a little more money to this developer. Tweetie offers a great many features – it returns you to the same place in the stream where you left off; it offers messaging and reply indicators; it has a clever reloading mechanism (simply scroll up to trigger a reload); it incorporates third-party applications Follow Cost, Tweet Blocker and Favstar.fm; it provides live search with filtering; it has added tweeting options (when you hit the character count indicator); it includes a draft manager for saving and tweeting later; it has added new options revealed when you swipe tweets to the right (a feature from Tweetie 1); it allows controls over SMS notifications; it syncs saved searches from the Twitter web; it is able to create iPhone contacts from Twitter profiles; it works in landscape mode; and, it shows conversations in threaded format.

Why do I like these features? Returning me to my place helps me to ensure I haven’t missed a beat. Scroll/reload speeds up my Twitter reading. The added applications, particularly Favstar.fm, allow me to manage how people view my own Twitter contributions from right within the Tweetie application. More tweet features makes it easier for me to share media through Tweetie, taking full advantage of the iPhone still and video camera, and facilitates link sharing. Landscape mode, a necessity for my worsening eyesight, makes tweets easier to read. Threaded conversations are a must if you are engage in a lengthy one-on-one conversation (yes, they DO happen occasionally on Twitter).BoxcarTweetdeck

But there are two features missing from Tweetie that require me to turn to two other applications: groups and push notifications. When I want to focus on a particular group of Twitter follows, I use Tweetdeck for iPhone (free). Group reading is pretty much the only reason I would use Tweetdeck rather than Tweetie, but it remains a compelling one. For push notifications of retweets, mentions and direct messages, I use Boxcar ($2.99 for one service, .99 cents for each additional service). My one service is Twitter, but you can use Boxcar to push your Facebook updates and email as well. It works very well – I can get push notifications from Boxcar in places where I have insufficient signal to get a phone call or text message.

As Louis Gray points out in his post, no single service is available on all platforms: desktop, Web and iPhone. So, if you are interested in having full-featured access to Twitter, you really have to consider employing more than one application. The endorsements of Brizzly, Tweetie 2, Tweetdeck, and Boxcar in this post are based entirely on my own experiences. I encourage you to check them out and see if they fit your purposes and meet your needs. Also, please feel free to post your own favorites (and why they are) in the comments below.

3 comments on “Personal Twitter Interface(s), i.e. "Twitter'action"

  1. Thanks for this – a very useful summary. I’ve been using TweetDeck but only recently noticed that it seems to enjoy using as much computer power as I can give it. I try to get on with HootSuite but found the interface clunky and a little homemade. I do like TweetDeck on my iPhone – but, as you said, really only for its grouping capabilities

    If you still have invitations spare, I’d appreciate an opportunity to use Brizzley.

    Thanks

    Peter

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