Twitter may come preloaded on many Android phones, but it isn't the only worthy app to use. Here are four feature-rich alternatives.
You can spend weeks trying out highly rated Twitter apps to find your favorite for Android. I know, because I've done it. Yet it's worth sampling some alternatives to Twitter's own app in search of a great-looking Twitter client that's just as rich in features, if not more so.
Most Twitter apps worth the name serve the most basic of functions, but a handful of them support multiple accounts, themes, and user-defined options. Some take things even further and tie in Facebook, widgets, photo filters, and enhanced notifications.
I've put together a small collection of my favorite alternative Twitter clients for Android, many of which are free.
The apps outlined below are a great place to start for those of you looking to stay connected with the social network platform.
Once known as Twidroyd, UberSocial has been around since the very early days of Android. In addition to the standard Twitter functions, you'll find options such as advanced search, profile editing, custom notifications, inline photo and video viewing, and pull or shake to refresh.
Some of my favorite features include the ability to mute hash tags or users and the option to create a list of favorite users (they call it InnerCircle.) Both these extras have proven to be incredibly fun and useful for avoiding spoilers on television shows or chatting up the latest films.
UberSocial is available as a free download however it is supported with ads across the bottom of the screen. A one-time, in-app $4.99 fee is required to remove the advertisements.
Featuring a dozen themes, color coding, and the ability to Zip users or keywords, OneLouder's TweetCaster app is rich in customization and user-defined preferences.
Those of you who use Twitter as a news source or for discovering content will undoubtedly enjoy the ability to save links to apps and services such as Pocket, Instapaper, and Readability. I am particularly fond of the endless refreshing of timelines when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Flipping the coin over, you can use TweetCaster to manage your own social presence with scheduled messages, Facebook integration, and statistics for interaction.
Other noteworthy features include photo effects, cross-device account sync, Twitlonger (which lets you tweet over 140 characters,) animated gifs, and voice-to-text. As you can see in the image above, TweetCaster provides multiple widget sizes and options.
TweetCaster is available in both free and paid ($4.99) versions, with the key difference being advertisements.
With a look that doesn't immediately recall Twitter, Carbon is a dark and elegant Android app with plenty of great touches. Although this one isn't steeped in customization options, it's an intuitive and gorgeous alternative.
What I most like about Carbon is the manner in which I can browse my timelines and view photos and videos without leaving the app. Built-in Instagram, Vine, and YouTube integration keeps me humming along; I don't lose my place when catching up on a day's worth of social chatter.
Two of my favorite settings come in the ability to refresh and jump throughout my timeline. A simple two finger swipe in either direction will get me to the top or bottom of my feed. The increasingly popular pull-to-refresh gesture is present here; swiping panels brings up mentions and direct messages.
If there's a drawback in Carbon it's that there is no optimization for tablets. I am hopeful, however, that the developers are able to bring this same aesthetic to larger displays with efficient use of the real estate.
From the team behind Beautiful Widgets, Plume is indeed a beautiful, if simple, Twitter client for Android. While it won't win any awards for innovation or exclusive features, it has been a very reliable app from Day One. This is not to suggest, however, that it's light on options and customization.
As one of the first Twitter apps to incorporate color coding, Plume makes it easy to set your favorite friends and source apart from the pack. Toggle avatars, adjust font size, or swap out Twitter handles for users' real names and get that timeline looking sharp.
I have really enjoyed watching Plume evolve over the years, especially once Android switched over to the Holo standards that shape the look and feel of the action bar, swipe navigation, and menus. By doing so, LevelUp Studio has managed to create a very Google-like app experience. The left slide-out menu provides easy access to all of your common Twitter tasks, columns, and accounts.
Plume is available as a free, ad-supported download in Google Play; purchase the premium key for $4.99 and you'll be rid of the pesky banners for good. By the way, did I mention how great this looks in landscape mode on a tablet?
What about the official app?
A recent string of updates has made the official Twitter app worthy of recognition. That wasn't the case two generations ago, but the recent releases amp up both gloss and features. It's much easier to discover new content and accounts, and photo filters keep users from pulling up a separate app.
Conversations are much more obvious thanks to the blue line that runs through your timeline; notifications are much friendlier and actionable in newer versions of Android.
To users who might have only opted for a third-party app in the past, why not give the official software another look, if for no other reason than seeing the Twitter experience online and on the phone line up. It doesn't hurt that it's automatically ad-free as well.
Have your say
Which Twitter apps are you using on your Android device? Do you prefer your Twitter experience stripped down and clean or do you like the deep customization? Are you able to put up with ads or have you gladly forked over a few bucks to make them go away?
Please share your thoughts and favorites in the comments below.