iPad Apps: Twitter

For the international launch of Apple’s iPad I decided to take a look at some of the significant Twitter applications and give my thoughts on them after using them for over a month.  Considering the amount of mindshare that Twitter holds in the tech world, it’s surprising that the selection of Twitter clients was not stronger, both now and at the iPad’s launch.  Tweetie, now renamed Twitter after the company bought it back in April, is my preferred iPhone Twitter app and is still nowhere to be seen.  Birdhouse, an iPhone app I use to compose many of my Tweets, is also missing.  So what does that leave us with?

TweetDeck
Price: Free 

TweetDeck for the iPadI will be the first to admit that I am not a TweetDeck fan, and have never been.  On both the iPhone and the desktop the application just seems much too interested in being more powerful than anything else it’s like being shot in the face at point-blank range with an information shotgun.  

TweetDeck’s strengths are, to me at least, its weaknesses.  The ability to have panes upon panes of Tweets to flick through makes it hard to focus on anything, and soon the experience is like trying to accomplish a task while a room of sugar-fueled children are shouting for your attention.  Rearranging the panels into any sort of order is still a task that befuddles me, and so as with the other versions of the application after about two hours trying to use it I quickly closed it for the last time and walked away to lie down and cry.

If you’re someone who has decided that having tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, and following another thousand people, is important then this might be for you.  Having instant access to each and every Twitter account you have might be worth the trade-off of not being able to just focus on one at a time.  And let’s be honest, complaining about losing focus while on Twitter is like complaining about calories while in a candy shop.  

Twittelator
Price: $4.99 

Twittelator for iPadTwittelator is my preferred iPad Twitter client.  Though even with this I still have a sense that it’s not quite the perfect Twitter app for me, I have a much harder time pinpointing what my problems with the application are than I do with TweetDeck.

What Twittelator does well, in contrast to TweetDeck, is to section off each of the potential multiple Twitter accounts so that it’s easy to focus in on one at a time.  In fact each differing bit of collected Tweets are presented in their own window and often there is only one window on the screen at a time.  Thus it’s easy to read through your friends’ Tweets, then check to see if anyone has been mentioning you before going on to see if anyone has been talking about TechVibes all without getting confused as to which pane you’re looking at.

There are some very nice visual touches, the wood background for example, and managing and editing an account profile is easy to do from the application.  Updates to the app have addressed some of my initial concerns, and it’s truly a nice way of handling Twitter. 

Twittelator is by far my strongest recommendation of any of the iPad Twitter apps currently out.  Yes there is something about it that still does not quite feel exactly right, and yes I’m looking forward to Twitter’s official iPad app, but for now it’s the best in the bunch.

Twitterific for iPad
Price: Free with $4.99 upgrade that gets rid of ads and allows for multiple accounts 

Twitterific for iPadTwitterific for iPad is the third of the current Twitter clients for the iPad that are worth checking out.  It suffers from being kind of in the middle between the senses assaulting overload of TweetDeck and the visual style of Twittelator.  

For the most part I have no complaints with the application, though it does freeze the screen when it’s loading new Tweets which can be exceptionally frustrating.  This is probably the best starter Twitter app I could recommend.  The ad-supported version is free, and if you don’t mind unobtrusive ads appearing in your Twitter stream and only need to access one Twitter account it’s going to be enough for you.  (If you’re looking at paying the $4.99 to upgrade I would consider Twittelator).

What Twitterific does really well is that everything is really large and readable.  Different kinds of Tweets are colour coded differently to make spotting when you’re mentioned or your own Tweets that much easier in the Tweet-time-line.  Basic Twitter functions such as reading, posting and re-Tweeting are easy to do with Twitterific, but more advanced things are complicated.  That you can’t immediately see if someone is following you, the way you can on Twittelator, is also a shame.