Micro-blogging service Twitter.com is reported to have in excess of three million users and has become a favourite of the Web 2.0 crowd, who hail its potential as a communictions application for individuals and business alike.
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One of the reasons for the service’s success is its publication of an API developers can use to create custom Twitter clients on any platform … even the iPhone.
Twitter tacitly endorsed Twitterific as its preferred iPhone client when it announced new restrictions to its SMS service. Since that announcement, however, several new clients have sprung up on the iTunes AppStore and we’ve checked them out for you here
Twinkle starts by asking users to create an account with its publisher, Tapulous, a task that is thankfully possible within the application, rather than requiring a Safari. The reason you need an account is not explained, but turns out to be an enabler of a location-based service that lets you find other Twinkle-using friends based on their location.
Twinkle defaults to showing a feed of your friends’ Tweets, a sensible decision. But it lacks obvious methods to select other feeds, an unfortunate omission.
The program’s best feature shows itself when you tap on a user’s avatar, an act that brings up a menu allowing you to send a private message, view their personal twitter stream or stop following the user in question.
Creating a new tweet is simple and the program allows the inclusion of photographs and automatically embeds location data.
Rating: 3 tweets (out of five)
Twinkle at work
Twittelator’s provision of a menu that allows its users to select from a number of Twitter feeds is its standout feature, as this makes it splendidly easy to switch between different views – such as your tweets, friends’ tweets and public tweets.
One odd feature is an emergency tweet button, which sends your location to all your friends accompanied by text explaining the need for immediate aid. This feature was turned on by default when we installed the software and led to considerable confusion as it is poorly-labelled on the program’s home screen and Settings dialog.
Overall, however, this is a slick product. The new Tweet screen makes posting your location optional, photo uploads are easy and the information and options revealed by tapping a user’s avatar is comprehensive and easy to access.
A $5.99 Pro version lists more tweets on the program’s home screen and adds support for themes.
Rating: 4 tweets (out of five)
Twittelator's 'Groups' view
Twitterific is available in free and Premium versions, the former slipping in an advertisement every 50 tweets and the latter removing the ads and displaying longer lists of tweets.
Whether you’d want a longer list is open to question, as we found Twitterific to be the slowest of the apps we tested in this roundup.
Colour-coding is a strong point for Twitterific, which uses a different shade to denote “2 messages”. Selecting a tweet also gives you access to a user’s profile, thanks to an ‘Information’ icon that reveals plenty of information, but is not well-explained or intuitive.
New tweets are easy to create, but cannot access the GPS and must use photos taken especially for the message: accessing the iPhone’s photo library is not possible.
Rating: 3 tweets
Twitterfon can’t add photos to a tweet and does not use the iPhone’s GPS to add location-based services to Twitter. But plenty of Twitterers will turn to it for one simple feature: the large, easy-to-tap button that it places next to any tweet with a link. This feature alone makes Twitterfon a candidate for a two-client regime, whereby users chose one application for reading Tweets and another for writing.
The application also has the nice touch of evoking an “@ message” when you tap on a user’s avatar.
Twitterfon lacks easy access to different views of Tweets, but does offer single-tap access to “@ messages.” It is also pleasingly fast.
A mashup of Twitterfon’s feed handling and Twittelator’s tweet authoring (if that’s not too grand a word) tools would be a Twitter user’s dream. Until that comes along, we’re using Twittelator Lite for its easy ability to change views.
How we tested
SearchVoiP.com.au downloaded the four applications to an 8GB iPhone 3G and tested their performance over WiFi.