Twitter released their “official” Android app on Friday afternoon, and I’ve been using it for a few days. Is it enough to unseat my current favorite (Touiteur), or even match up Twidroid and Seesmic? Read on to find out.
Let’s start with the basics. Twitter offers the usual complement of “check for new tweets at x intervals”, and notifications appear in the status bar. You can set for an LED flash as well as an audible alert. All that works great, although the LED flash seems to be a bit buggy. The big downside is that when you are notified about new tweets and head into your timeline, you’re at the top of the timeline. Not a big deal when it’s 10 or 15 tweets, but when 80+ have accumulated overnight, it’s a HUGE pain to have to scroll down to find the last one you read.
Even that isn’t the only usability issue with the Twitter app. One of the great things about Android is the dedicated menu button that lets apps add extra settings and features away from the main interface but only a quick pop away. Twitter does away with that in favor of an icon driven main landing page for @ mentions, direct messages, profile access, retweets and lists. It’s visually nice but a huge waste and an extra set of unnecessary steps. If I’m reading the timeline (which is where you enter if you open Twitter from the notification bar), I can only access all those by hitting menu, home (my only option) and then selecting from the main page. Every other Android app manages to fit almost twice those features using the menu system, and it feels like Twitter chose a perceived visual positive in exchange for a more drawn out and inefficient process.
I will give Twitter a few positives. I like the animated background, though it would be nice to have some choices there. And I like the way they’ve integrated retweet, reply, favorite, and share within each individual tweet with a pop-up menu. There’s also contacts integration, and you can choose to either add to existing contacts only or create entries in your phonebook for people you follow on Twitter. I don’t have more than one twitter account, so the limitation of one account is not a big deal for me.
To be honest, it’s not so much that Twitter for Android is bad. It actually handles most of what I need from Twitter, and if they fix the entry point on the timeline to start at the last read tweet, I’d probably like it a lot more. However, I do have a bit of an issue with the response that it was somehow SO GREAT AND THE BEST APP EVER TO HIT ANDROID because it’s simply not true. There’s this misconception that apps (especially Twitter apps) on Android are just eyesores upon the world, and I want to showcase two of the apps I’ve used. This way it makes it clearer when I say the official Twitter app has major flaws, and shows how other apps better leverage the Android experience.
Twitter for Android
What I liked:
-Lots of notification options
What I didn’t like:
-Doesn’t start you at last read tweet
-Excess number of button presses to access various settings.