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Twitter for Android hands on: Voyeur mode and a sleeker interface await you

Twitter's official Android app got a pretty hefty update today, which brought some added features along with a complete makeover. All in all, the update is a positive move for Twitter, since it brings the app into a more current style of design while giving Twitter Search a bit more prominence and functionality.

For one, the app now bears a striking resemblance to Twitter for Mac, which makes it one of the most visually polished apps to be found on Android today (sorry folks, I love Android too, but the apps tend to be a bit on the fugly side). Not only is it a surprisingly good look for the app, but the minimalistic style does tend to make things easier on smaller touchscreens. Tablets may be the future, but most of us use phones when it comes to tweeting on the go, after all.

Aside from the new look, the first thing you may notice is that the app's start page now puts functionality ahead of fluffy animated clouds. It's now a bit more like Twitter.com, in that users don't have to log into the service to use its search functionality (immediately dubbed "voyeur mode").

On that note, Twitter Search has also been revamped, making it much quicker to find what you're looking for on the fly. Depending on what you type, intelligent options are made available to make the search a general one, a username search, a search by proximity to your location, or to simply go directly to the profile of an @name (if what you entered is a term that matches a username).

Twitter for Android - Updated (Feb. 2011)


Once logged in, you'll notice that the timeline is much different. Again, functionality is king in this update, so navigation buttons are placed prominently at the top of the screen in a sleek bar, which gives great readability while managing to take up as little space as possible.

"Pull to refresh" is now implemented for the timeline (which is pretty slick), and tapping a tweet goes to a dedicated screen for that tweet, which also contains the standard set of options for retweeting, replying, etc. Composing tweets is clean and simple, with options for camera/gallery/location made clearly available. One thing that already irks users of other similar apps is unfortunately present as well -- links are automatically shortened whether you want them to be or not.

Another new feature that's been added to this version of the app is contact-scraping. Once logged in, you'll have the option to allow the app to search through your phone's contact list for Twitter users. The official Twitter blog post doesn't say the exact method used, but does say that discoverability is still a per-account option, so for now we'll just have to assume it's by email address since that's the only method for discovery mentioned in Twitter account settings.

The app also has two home screen widgets: The large size needs two rows and allows you to tap through the timeline one tweet at a time, while the small size uses only one row, but only shows the latest tweet from the timeline. Despite the widgets being a bit weak, the app itself is more than worth the time it takes to update, so be sure to hit it up on the Android Market now!

Twitter for Android on AppBrain

Tags: android, apps, cellphones, hands-on, handson, mobile, socialnetworking, tweet, twitter, twitter for android, TwitterForAndroid

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