Android App Review: Tweetdeck Beta

Platform: Android (2.0 or higher)
Cost: Free!
[Signup Link]
Release Date: August 12, 2010
Version Reviewed: 0.9.3

With great fanfare, Tweetdeck announced the release of the public beta for their Tweetdeck Android app.  Tweetdeck has been working on the application for several months, and promised to “push the boundaries” of the Android app experience.  Have they delivered?  Read on to find out.

To start, Tweetdeck makes it very easy to get up and running.  If you have a Tweetdeck account for their desktop app or iPhone, you just login to that account and it links up your accounts automatically.  The sign-in screen also makes it very easy to add accounts that aren’t already tied to your Tweetdeck account.  They’ve definitely made it all about becoming a one-stop shop for social media.

Tweetdeck’s main premise is to combine feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, and Foursquare into one main feed.  Posts from all four services show up in your main feed, color coded by type.  If you’re familiar with the desktop application, you know that it features many user-customizable columns.  This has carried over into the Android app as well. You have a mentions column and a direct messages column, but can add columns for searches, lists, or just about anything.  Switching between columns is as simple as swiping left-to-right and back.  Swiping is very quick and smooth, in fact it’s almost too easy to accidentally switch columns.  Hopefully they’ll improve the distinction between swiping through the feed and between feeds.  Scrolling through feeds is very smooth.  There is no lag whatsoever in this application, and that’s probably its best feature.  Hopefully other developers will learn from this experience and focus on making apps with a lag-free interface.

The main interface is unique in its simplicity.  Timestamps for updates are not shown on the main page, but as you scroll through the feed, the top bar shows the time of the update.  New updates show a yellow time, while older ones show white.  The app tries to remember your location in the feed, but doesn’t do the best job of this yet.

The new message window provides easy options to send updates to any/all of your services.  Clicking on the service icon at the top of the screen turns on/off the service for that message.  You also have the ability to upload a picture from this screen, but the only upload service available at the moment is Yfrog.  Hopefully they’ll add options to use other services.  Adding your location (for Twitter/Buzz/Foursquare) is easy as well.  Even with a clear sky view, I’ve often had to close the location window and re-open it to get it to show current locations.  Tweetdeck does not currently have a name auto-complete feature, or an option for reply-all.  Hopefully these will be added soon, as these are features found in most all Android Twitter apps; this is the reason I don’t use Tweetdeck as my main Twitter app yet.

Clicking on an item from the main feed brings up a full-screen detail of the item.  Tweets have reply, retweet, and favorite buttons; Facebook updates have like and comment buttons and so on. Links in posts can be clicked from this window, and pictures auto-preview at the bottom – sometimes this feature works.  Tweetdeck does not have a mini-browser built in, so all links open in the full browser.

Tweetdeck is really working hard on making this a great app.  They’ve now put out two updates in the last couple days with marked improvements over the original.  The original app had only one font size (and it was huge!).  The first update added a font size adjuster, and the latest update now lets you customize the update interval times.  If they keep this up, version 1.0 will be a very good initial full release.  They still have a way to go to make it a full-featured app, but they’re clearly working quickly to meet user requests.

Overall, I’d give this app a 6/10, but that number could change any day as a new beta comes out.  It’s already up from a 4/10 in my mind, so if they’ve accomplished that in less than a week, it could be an 8 or 9 by the time 1.0 comes out.   At this point, the beta is definitely usable for casual reading and updates, but if you’re a power user you’ll probably want more before moving to this full-time.

Accounts Page
Detail of a single tweet
New Update Screen

Published by

Ryan Minert

is the resident Android nerd. His hobbies include golfing, video games, and tinkering on his Motorola Droid. He is currently a database/project analyst for an education planning and financing corporation.

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