Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TweetDeck for Android - Screenshot 01 TweetDeck for Android - Screenshot 02

TweetDeck for Android is an app that has garnered a huge amount of press in its relatively short span of beta testing, and release. TweetDeck, for sometime, has been a popular gadget (or widget) for Windows (using Adobe AIR) and Macintosh. The concept is simple – the App aggregates feeds from various social network sources, and allows you to manage your social accounts from a single location. Currently, TweetDeck for Android supports the addition of Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz and Foursquare accounts. Multiple twitter accounts can be added, so if you would like to keep track of say, your official twitter account, and your personal twitter account (assuming you have two such accounts), you can.

Look and Feel

As can be seen from the posted screenshots, the App has a certain degree of polish that makes you want to use it; something that can’t be said for too many Android Apps. The whole interface is clean, with large buttons, that clearly depress when pressed to indicate that they’re being activated. There are certain basic gestures and UI functions that TweetDeck just seems to get. For example, to move from the main aggregated view of all your feeds to the next “Column” on the right, which contains information related to you (such as tags, mentions, comments, likes of your status, etc.) – all it takes is a simple swipe. Swipe again, and you can see all your Twitter direct messages. It’s as simple as that. The learning curve for this sort of functionality is close to zero. As long as you’re used to a touch-based interface, you’ll feel right-at-home within TweetDeck.

General Usage

In day to day usage, TweetDeck is very handy. It reduces the effort required to login to Facebook, check what your friends are upto, then login to Twitter, read the latest Tweets, etc. For the purposes of this review, we’ll be looking at how TweetDeck helps in making things easier for specific actions.

Status Updates

In today’s world where we end up living for the next awesome quote that we could display as our status, sometimes, things get a little tangled up. What we’re saying is, if you’re on Facebook, and also on Twitter, then there’s always a time when you’re wondering if a certain update is really appropriate for either medium. Something may be okay for a FB update, but may not look so good on Twitter, or it simply may be longer than what Twitter allows for your status. If you’ve ended up linking your Twitter account to your Facebook account, then this could really hold you back from posting certain updates, since you don’t want it propagated to both Twitter and Facebook. TweetDeck to the rescue. When posting an update, you simply tap on the sliders for each of the accounts where you want to post the update. This can be done whether the status update is being posted from within the App, or from the widget on the homescreen. It’s really cool, and it’s the way an aggregated social networks’ app such as TweetDeck should work. It’s brilliant, yet so simple.

Keeping track - Photos, videos, updates

TweetDeck has constantly improved over each update, and most items that are posted by your friends, or people whom you follow can be seen within the App itself. So when Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) posts the latest pic that he wants to share with the rest of the world using TwitPic (several other services are supported as well), you can view it right within the App itself. You don’t need to click a link, and view the photo in the web browser.

Videos, are a completely different matter, though. If it’s a youtube video posted by a friend on Facebook, the Youtube app takes over. If it’s a Facebook video, then tapping on the thumbnail of the video in TweetDeck launches the full version of Facebook in the browser; if your Android phone can run Flash, then good. If it can’t, then this is pretty useless. Frankly, video on the go is yet to become a reality with 3G services starting to trickle out in India; so we think this lack of in-app video-viewing is fine, for now.

As far as viewing updates is concerned, we like the way Tweets are shown with a grey background, and Facebook updates (all posts, really) are shown with a Facebook-ish blue background. This helps in knowing which update/post is from which medium – Twitter or Facebook. Foursquare is a whole different case, but since the adoption of Foursquare in India is currently limited, we’re not delving too much into that part. It is a very simple task (two taps, really) to retweet a tweet, or copy a link or an entire status message from the aggregated feed.

Final Thoughts

When we started using Android phones, we loved the Facebook app. However, in day-to-day usage, the official Facebook app simply doesn’t get things done quickly, or effortlessly. As far as Twitter was concerned, we started off with Twidroyd since the whole Internet seems to recommend this as an efficient Twitter client. We felt something lacking, and moved to using TweetCaster for Android. That was a beautiful cartoon-themed Twitter client; it was simple, useful and effective. But Facebook had taken the backseat, since the App didn’t quite hit the spot for us. Upon this scene, TweetDeck for Android launched; and we haven’t looked back. It was a joyful goodbye that we bid to Facebook for Android, and a slightly sad farewell to TweetCaster for Android, but at the end of the day, TweetDeck has helped in keeping up to date with the latest posts and updates from friends and the people we follow on Twitter. If you like us, would like the ease of use and the convenience of such an App, by all means, hit the Android Market and download away.

Note: This review is based on the TweetDeck for Android app, as experienced on a Spice MI-300 running Android 2.1 The experience could differ significantly on a phone with a QVGA screen (240x320) or running Android 1.6 or less.


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