The best Twitter apps
Which are the best apps to blast your voice into the twittersphere? We took a look at some popular platforms and tried to work out what the best application was for each
You've heard of Twitter, of course. Stephen Fry's on it. It's marvellous. One of the best things about it -- apart from keeping up to date with the minutiae of your fave celebs, of course -- is that you can use it everywhere. But to do that you're going to need an app for your computer, your phone and possibly your car. Although we can't help you with a voice-activated in-car application, we can assist with the phone and desktop clients.
The apps mentioned here are only a tiny percentage of what's available. We haven't seen every app, but if you've got a good alternative, make sure you post it in the comments section and we'll take a look.
The clear winner for tweeting from your iPhone is Echofon, which is available in both free and paid versions. The free version is more than likely enough for most people to be satisfied with. If you don't want ad-supported software -- and it is a bit of a pain, to be honest -- the full version is only £3. Paying brings other benefits too, such as support for push notifications, which are essential on the non-multi-tasking iPhone, and multiple accounts.
An honourable mention goes to TweetDeck. It's not perfect, but then very little in this world is. What we really like about TweetDeck for iPhone is it has the same layout as the desktop version (see below). It's also easy to use, has a bunch of very cool features and best of all -- it's as free as a bird, as a twitterer should be.
Android is a tricky one. The platform-leading application is clearly Twidroid, and that's with good reason. It's a very good app, with a wonderful set of features, but it has major problems too. It's a massive reseource hog and can cause your handset to lag quite badly.
Because resources are crucial, our winner is an app called Swift, which until we started looking into this feature, we hadn't heard of. Since we installed it, we've not looked back -- it has all the main features you'd look for in a good Twitter app. It's not quite as beautiful as Twidroid, but it does have a simple user interface that's a big hit for us. The menu also promises a 'send saved tweets' feature, which sounds promising.
Twidroid does still get a thumbs-up though, because although it has memory-use issues, it's still a very, very pretty app, with a heap of awesome features. We still find ourselves switching to it from time to time when Swift does something daft.
As far as we're concerned, there isn't much competition in this area -- by far the best app for Symbian phones is Tweets60. In our , we couldn't get enough of this app, which actually worked as well, if not better, than similar apps on Android and the iPhone.
We also like the fact that the Tweets60 team irons out any bugs in its code in double-quick time. It has a Twitter presence, so any complaints you may have can be sent to them via Twitter.
Installing apps on a BlackBerry that doesn't support its app store is a real pain in the rear-end. Eventually, after looking at several very poor apps, we settled upon UberTwitter, which is very useable. It's ad-supported, but it's by far the smartest of all the BlackBerry apps we saw.
We have no also-rans here. We tested both TwitterBerry and Tiny Twitter, neither of which were especially brilliant. You'd be better off using the SMS service if you don't like UberTwitter.
This is the place where a good deal of daytime Twitter action takes place -- at your desk -- so it's important to have a competent app. The advantage of tweeting from your desktop is you've got a proper keyboard, and you can react to things quickly and easily. Most Twitter clients seem to use Adobe Air, a key advantage being that the software is the same for both Mac and PC.
The winner, in our view, is TweetDeck. We like it because it allows us to manage multiple accounts, save searches and generally keep an eye on trends and discussions relevant to our interests. If you need a slightly less complicated client, it might be best if you tried our second-place app, which is a little less visually cluttered. TweetDeck does come with a 'single column' mode, however, which will please people looking for a less intrusive app. If you're a multi-monitor user though, TweetDeck is the way forward.
Our second choice is Twhirl. We used this app every day before we switched to TweetDeck. We like it because it's small and elegant, and it doesn't use as much memory as TweetDeck either, especially if you only run one instance of it. It's pretty free of problems and bugs too, so it earns our vote as a lightweight client for everyday use.
Finally, it seems silly to miss the most obvious client of all -- twitter.com. Do you really need an app? Possibly not, and with each passing week, Twitter adds more functionality to the site that removes the advantages of having stand-alone software. in particular make TweetDeck groups redundant, to some extent. It also has the advantage that it doesn't use much memory, and the chances are, if you're tweeting, you're also messing about online too.
If you're using a standard mobile phone, it's probably worth pointing out Twitter has a very mobile-friendly version of its site, just waiting for any mobile device you care to point at it. In most cases it auto-detects you're on a phone and sends you straight to m.twitter.com but, in case it doesn't, we just gave you the address to add to your bookmarks.
Twitter also takes SMS messages and turns them into tweets. The setup process for this involves you giving Twitter your mobile number and confirming it with an SMS message. You can then send updates from your phone via text. Handy, no?