Twitter is an ideal mobile platform; constantly-changing bite-sized updates fit beautifully into the hectic modern lifestyle, and it’s no coincidence the maximum length for a tweet is 140 characters: it’s based on the maximum length of an SMS, minus 20 characters for the username, as the LA Times tells us. But when you’re on the go and you just want to post a quick update or check what’s going on, you really don’t need a client that gets in your way.
Making a good mobile client is a fine balancing act. You need to provide your users with the functionality that they need, but you can’t risk being too confusing. There’s no manual, and even if there was one, nobody would take the time to read it. The app also needs to be very snappy and responsive. The Twicca Android Twitter client rises to the challenge.
This is Twicca’s homescreen. It shows my own Twitter stream; note the ancient date for the topmost tweet — that’s a feature, not a bug: My Twicca installation is set to update manually. This conserves battery; whenever I want to get a quick fix of Twitter I can just hit the “refresh” button (bottom-right), and get a fresh bunch of tweets down the line. Also, note the work done on the buttons – just four transparent buttons, each with a very descriptive icon. The buttons are very easy to hit: you don’t have to press the icon itself. Twicca also has a light theme you can use if all of that darkness is bringing you down.
Next, let’s see what it looks like when you tweet:
The tweet screen has five buttons along the bottom. The left-most one (hash-tag button) is the only button I found confusing in the app. It was disabled for me, and I simply could not get it to work. I have no idea what my mistake was, but I’m sure you will enlighten me in the comments. Other than that button, there’s an “attach media” button that pops up the menu you see in the screenshot. There’s also a geolocation button that gets you into a map and lets you select your location (so you can shift it a bit if you want to). Last but not least, there’s a “shorten URL” button.
Now let’s go back to the homescreen and see what happens when you long-press a tweet:
As you can see, long-pressing a tweet selects it, and you can select multiple tweets. A short tap on the screen brings up this context menu:
“Set color label” is an interesting option. It lets you assign an arbitrary color to a person’s tweets. This color is then used for their username, any links they tweet out, and as a vertical bar next to their tweet. This lets you zoom in on tweets from specific people very quickly.
When you short-tap just a single tweet, you get a much more extensive menu:
The “Share this tweet” button is interesting: It pops up Android’s default “Share” action, so you could do something like “share” someone’s tweet as an SMS to one of your contacts. Weird, yet interesting. “Retweet” instantly retweets the message to all of your followers, while “Quote selected tweet” lets you add a bit of your own text and retweet a message.
Twicca also lets you create lists right from within the app.
As you might have guessed, the Twicca Android Twitter client has a daunting amount of settings. This list doesn’t even show all setting categories, and each category has oodles of options. Users are lucky the default values are quite sane, but it you’re an obsessive tweaker who likes to customize every application, you’re going to love Twicca.
The one feature I’m missing is being able to use multiple accounts; I constantly monitor/update four different Twitter accounts, and not being able use Twicca for this is a bit of a downer. Other than that, I just love Twicca.
What do you think? Does this look like a compelling client, or do you know of a better alternative? Let your voice be heard!