Handmark brings a satisfying Twitter environment to the Android operating system with its new TweetCaster Pro application. Now available in the Android Market and on Handmark's site for $4.99, TweetCaster Pro offers everything you'd expect from Twitter in a user-friendly design. We have just a couple of suggestions to make it better, though we think it's worth the price. You also can get an ad-supported free version that has the same features.
The download process was quick and incident-free. TweetCaster Pro takes up 850KB of memory; though that's not a lot of space, keep in mind that the Android OS limits app storage to your handset's internal memory. We tested the app with a Motorola Cliq, which has 512MB ROM and 256MB RAM.
On the whole, TweetCaster Pro runs smoothly. We didn't experience any crashes and it doesn't appear to slow down the phone's other functions. Our only complaint was that the app can take almost 10 seconds to load when you activate it after powering the phone on. On the upside, the process was quicker on subsequent launches, but you'll be forced back to the longer start screen the next time you turn off your handset.
The interface is simple and easy to follow. After signing in (also a quick process) you'll see the most recent tweets from those you follow in a list form. Your tweets will appear as well, but they'll be marked in dark green. At the top of the list are five tabs for your full tweet list, tweets that just mention you, direct messages, your favorites, and any lists that you follow. You can change the background to a light or dark color and you can alter the font size.
Small yellow dots on the first two tabs let you know you have new tweets or mentions. That's helpful, but we'd prefer seeing the number of tweets as well. Fortunately, Handmark promises that a release scheduled for the next few weeks will correct that problem.
You should see about four tweets at one time on your display, but the number will vary according to your handset's display size and just how verbose your friends are. It would be nice to see a truncated version of longer tweets, but that's a minor point. A separate screen shows your full list of followers and users whom you follow.
The app is available in landscape mode as well, but we didn't use it since only two tweets are visible at a time. On the other hand, the landscape mode can be handy for writing your own tweets. To get there, just tap the pencil icon at the top right corner of the display (on the Cliq you can use the physical or virtual keyboard). The menu button takes you to various commands and settings plus an option to jump to the top of your tweet list. That's a nice touch.
TweetCaster Pro supports multiple accounts. That's a must for any Twitter app, though we have to click a few times to switch between accounts. Perhaps in a future release we'll be able to jump between accounts with a horizontal finger swipe.
The real appeal of TweetCaster is its solid feature set. You can view and create lists right on the phone, set up filters, reply to and retweet updates, view threads, block users or report them as spam, scan trends, choose favorite tweets, follow and unfollow users, and see full profiles. You also can upload photos and share links right on the phone. In the setting menu you have the option for using either bit.ly or is.gd for URLs and either twitpic or yfrog for photos. And thankfully, you can turn off the alerts for new tweets and direct messages.
To find new friends you can search by name or Twitter ID. If you know an ID the handy Quick Follow feature lets you find users and follow them with one press. Alternatively, you can search for nearby using your ZIP code or GPS location.
Even with our interface gripes, we think TweetCaster Pro is at the top of the Android pile of Twitter apps. Its intuitive interface design, loaded feature set, and quick performance make it a must for any Tweet-happy Android user