Last week, Twitter announced a serious overhaul of their website. It might mean diddly to iPhone users though, who usually access Twitter through any one of a growing heap of mobile Twitter apps — all of which are equipped with a vastly superior set of features compared to Twitter’s site (at least, currently).
Now, I’ve always held that selecting a Twitter app is a highly subjective, personal process, kind of like picking out a bicycle saddle — you just sort of squish around on it for a few days and see if it feels right. Personally, I currently tend to favor HootSuite over any other Twitter app, even though I’ve installed, and sometimes use, half a dozen or so others. But one Twitter app has foisted itself to essential status: Twitter’s own official app. And it’s above the rest for one key reason, really.
The official Twitter app — which until very recently was called Tweetie — is a good choice for a variety of reasons: it sports a clean interface, well-designed and free of frippery, with graphic buttons on the bottom of the screen that make for easy navigation; it’s equipped with several desirable features, like the ability to view nearby tweets superimposed over a map, a function that’ll translate tweets into English (even from exotic alphabets, like Russian Cyrillic) and unmatched functionality when it comes to the business of actually creating tweets; then there’s the promise of push notifications in the future; and of course, it’s free.
But it has something that none of the others have: An all-access backstage pass. View and edit your own account settings, easily access, view and interact with the account info of others, create lists, even use services like Overlapr and Follow Cost. Awesomeness.
And yes, having Twitter around is essential — if you’re not already a Twitter user, you should be. Even if the desire to compulsively tap out every single banal event in your life (“I just splatterd toothpast al ovr mymirror lol!”) doesn’t grab you, Twitter can still be an invaluable tool when used passively to inform or entertain.
Update: Oh, and one last thing…can’t end without divulging my Twitter feed, can I?
Alternatives (this list is by no means exhaustive, and only includes other notable, free Twitter apps):
HootSuiteLite, the free version of my current favorite. A fun, attractive, user-friendly interface organized via tabs; ability to schedule tweets for future posting; post to multiple accounts, including Facebook; a cool “bump-to-follow” feature; also includes a robust translation function like the one found on the Twitter app.
Twitbird‘s uninspired-but-functional interface hides a treasure chest of functionality: push notifications (but only from other Twitbird users; $3 for global push); not only current trending tweets, but also daily and weekly; like the Twitter app, nearby tweets are displayed on a map; a public timeline and much more.
Tweetdeck is a highly polished, highly customizable Twitter app modeled after its eponymous desktop client. Organizes info via a user-definable “deck” of card-like subjects that can be swiped through (for instance, one card for direct messages, another that searches for mentions of your hometown, yet another searching for the word “orgy” within a five-mile radius of you, etc.); also includes ability to search Facebook.