DLS Review: TweetDeck for Android seamlessly integrates Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Google Buzz
Android apps with sensible interfaces are few and far between. Interfaces can vary so much between apps that it becomes both a chore and a challenge to switch between apps. You might have a choice of one billion free apps, but why bother if it hurts your brain to use them? When one app has tabs across the top, another has them on the bottom and yet another uses side-swiping -- well, it almost makes me wish I had an iPhone. And that's a desperate place to be, gentlemen.
TweetDeck opts for my personal favourite of tabs-on-bottom (easier to reach with your thumb!) and side-swiping -- and boy does it look and feel good. TweetDeck for Android, along with default support for Twitter, also lets you connect to Foursquare, Buzz and Facebook. That means I can stick to just one awesome app interface... hooray!
Perhaps the thing that most impresses me with TweetDeck for Android is just how similar it is to the desktop counterpart. The interface is totally different, yet somehow comfortably reminiscent. The primary view is still columnar, but instead of having three or four always on display, you side swipe left and right to see your replies and direct messages -- or indeed any customized columns. The same easy-to-read, clear white font and charcoal grey theme are there to greet you warmly, too.
On to the interface itself. The column on the left, though it isn't obvious from this screenshot, is the TweetDeck 'me column' -- not the standard 'mentions' column from the desktop app. It includes any and all activity that involves you, from Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Buzz. It's very, very cool.
Columns, like on the desktop, are completely customizable. You can add a column for your Favourites, your lists, or any custom searches. As you can seen below, you can then configure each column's update rate and what kind of notifications they generate. You could make it so that every update makes your phone vibrate, but only direct messages produce a sound.
As you see above, there's a 'profile view' for Twitter. Facebook doesn't, unfortunately -- you can only see a person's latest status updates -- and I haven't checked Foursquare or Buzz.
Moving on, let's look at actual tweets and status updates. You can quite happily browse the column views, but if you want to reply you have to click through to the individual tweet or status update.
Depending on the service, you have a few options. You can reply, obviously (see the screenshot at the top of this story); you can translate tweets -- kinda cool; or you can even share them with Android's built-in sharing tool. Whether private Direct Messages should be shareable or not, I'm not sure. 'Copy' is also available, which you might find useful (and indeed, in some cases you can copy the URL of the status update or tweet, too).
Facebook functionality is OK, but minimal. What you see in the picture above is all you get. You can't browse your Facebook messages (boo) or photos (I guess that would be slightly too much feature creep).
Finally, here's the accounts page, and what the Facebook column looks like. I can only presume that the Foursquare and Buzz columns have their own gaudy primary color as a background.
If you have a TweetDeck account (as in, you've registered), simply login and your Twitter account(s) will magically appear. Facebook has to be authorized manually -- and I didn't try Buzz or Foursquare -- but it's only a matter of typing your credentials once, anyway! [Does anyone else hate typing 15-or-more-character passwords on a smartphone?]
On the right you can see the Facebook column view. Smart and simple. I should draw your attention to the little gold and grey circles at the top, because they're so cool: they let you know which column you're in. Or rather, they let you know whether you can swipe left or right. Because there are no circles in the top right corner, that means I can't go any further -- neat.
ConclusionTweetDeck for Android is one of those rare cases of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. There are no annoyingly-hidden functions. The app doesn't require any configuration to make it usable. It pulls a bunch of social networks together and makes browsing them a pure joy.
If you tweet, like reading tweets, or update your status -- and you you have an Android phone -- you should get TweetDeck.
TweetDeck for Android Tech Specs
- Installed Size -- 2MB, but it seems to cache a lot of data. It might be quite big quite quickly!
- Speed/Responsiveness -- It takes a while to load up (presumably due to the amount of data it has to parse), but the interface is snappy (Android 2.1 @ 600MHz, LG GT540 Swift)
- User Interface -- The best I'm yet to experience on Android
- Configurability & Extensibility -- Excellent, though it would be nice to be able to add other social networks! (In a future release, I'm sure...)
- License -- Free, closed-source. You have to sign up for beta access, but you will be activated immediately.