Six ways to improve Twitter

How can Twitter be better? We'll tell you how.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read

We coveredTwitter in early January, and since then it's gotten a lot of buzz (especially at SXSW this week.) As cool as it is, there are several ways to improve the experience. You can make viewing posts faster, read "tweets" through RSS, and more. Check out these Twitter accessories:

Mac widget Twitterific The Iconfactory

1. Twitter apps and widgets: Get Twitter out of your Web browser and onto your desktop. For Windows users we recommend Twitteroo, a simple and small desktop app that's good for monitoring and posting to your twitter feed. Vista users also can try Twadget, which runs in the gadget sidebar. For the Mac, there's Twitterific, which advanced users will like for its hot key support, allowing for quick scrolling and sorting through feeds using keyboard shortcuts.

If you want to dig deeper into Twitter apps, try the Twitter Fan Wiki.

2. Twitter via WAP: Twitter was built for SMS, but some phones have rotten SMS clients and many users have to pay for SMS messages. An alternative is Twapper (review), a Web page that displays Twitter messages in a very phone-friendly format. It doesn't let you post messages, though.

3. Mapping services: GeoTwitter shows the latest public Twitter posts on a large Google map. You can click any of the pins to read the post. Twitterami takes a different approach, using location announcement service Frappr to show where Twitter users reside and linking to their feeds.

A Flash Twitter badge CNET Networks

4. Twitter badges: Put badges on your blog or social networking profile to show off your Twitter feed. Twitter gives you three flavors to choose from, including a friends' timeline that shows the last five posts from your Twitter friends. Instead of visiting your page on Twitter, they'll be able to see it on your site.

5. Blogging: Besides putting the badges on your site, there's not really a way to publish through typical blogs yet, which is where Alex King's Wordpress plug-in comes in handy. If you've got a Wordpress blog, you can simply install this plug-in and publish right to your Twitter feed without having to visit Twitter's site. There also are options to archive and grab Twitter updates to copy straight into a new blog post.

CNET Networks

6. RSS: Avoid Twitter's site completely by adding your friends' Twitter RSS feeds to your favorite reader. In fact, if you're using a single page aggregator such as Netvibes or Pageflakes, you can set up your own tab for just Twitter feeds. There's even a Twitter module that lets you post straight right from your Netvibes page. You can find a person's RSS feed at the bottom left of their Twitter page. If you're using Firefox, clicking on the RSS icon on the address bar will give you the option to subscribe. For IE7, just click the orange RSS button under the refresh button.

One thing none of these apps will do: improve Twitter's overall reliability. The service grew so fast last week that it is now regularly overloading the Twitter servers. The team is working on reinforcing the platform.

Rafe Needlemancontributed to this post.