With the much anticipated arrival of push notifications, Twitter clients from across the App Store (and beyond) have been updated and re-polished to support this latest feature. However, times travel fast! Jeff was right when he said to me last week: "[this article] will likely be out of date within a week or so." No fewer than three extra clients have landed onto the App Store and into our hands this week alone. We've dived in at the deep end to check out them all.
Why Push Notifications?
In the olden days, for instance, whenever 148 was the maximum amount of applications that you could install, if you wanted information you had to go to it. Be it the latest news or the latest tweets, the only way that you'd find out about it is if you went to the information source - a Twitter application for tweets; or a news website for breaking news. Push notifications reverses this role and the information is brought to you. You're updated in real time about what is happening, who is tweeting you, and why the Zune is not as good as the iPod (okay, maybe not the last one). Push is practically limitless, and developers are keen to get ahead of the game.
There are two types of clients for Twitter push notifications. Firstly, there is the fully-fledged application that has both a Twitter interface of its own and push notifications. Secondly, there are applications that leave the tweeting to the pros (eg. Tweetie / Twitterific) and a separate application is made solely for push. We'll look at both.
Full rundown of the Twitter apps after the break.
With the arrival of push notifications, Appremix, the creators of Boxcar, were quick to develop an application and get it posted to the App Store. In fact, they were the quickest: Boxcar was the first application on the App Store to support push notifications for @replies and Direct Messages. Speed is not inversely correlated with quality - the application is sound, secure and chic. We had a bit of a login issue at first (don't press "Go" on the keyboard once you've entered in your twitter details - instead tap the screen where it tells you to login/go) but after everything was set up, it was working effectively.
To satisfy even the most professional of tweeters, Boxcar allows you to use their app in conjunction with some of the most popular Twitter apps: namely Tweetie; Twitterific; Twitterfon; Twittelator; and Twinkle. However, If you aren't interested in having several applications installed, Boxcar posted an update which allows you to tweet/reply/message within their own app too.
Built for those who want a more minimalist user interface, iTweetReply is built for those who want to do what Twitter was all about: tweeting and reading others' tweets. With push notifications built in natively, you can read your general timeline, @replies and direct messages. The latter two are pushed. One feature that's noteworthy is whenever you want to @reply someone - your Twitter following list is laid in the iPhone contacts style. Bringing a piece of the native iPhone into this foreign application makes it feel more built in and user friendly, something that many applications lack.
At the other end of the scale, those who want to know about the latest trends, see others' profiles etc. are likely to find iTweetReply lagging behind. By no means does this application have it all, but what it does have is integrated beautifully.
Inversely, Twitbit has almost everything you could imagine. Quite literally. We were a little surprised at just how much could be featured into one client - everything from searching for trends, digging up accounts, and viewing profiles. Like iTweetReply, it has taken a leaf from Apple for application integration - using the iPod's "More / Edit" feature list where you can drag and drop your most used parts of the application into the bottom.
With the vast array of the features, the client still maintains an appealing general user interface. A lack of clutter and the addition of push make it an application that should be worthy of installation on any iPhone.
One step further, SimplyTweet tops Twitbit in terms of features. Among the expected, there was the option to see blocked users; notes; favourites; and photos. If you want a no-holds-barred client, SimplyTweet wins hands down. Competitively priced with push, it is a strong contender in the ever growing twitter application market. However, the interface is somewhat lacking. With so much technical expertise put into the application, it seems that there was little left in terms of resources for the graphical user interface. iChat style bubbles have been designed very basically and much of the text is small, cramped, and lacking in ease of reading.
MSN; AOL; ICQ; Jabber; Google Talk; Yahoo! Messenger; Skype; Facebook. Oh, and Twitter too. IM+ is a one-client-does-all application that is built to save you having to install separate applications for everything. Impressively, push notifications are built in too. We'll just focus on the Twitter aspect of it.
By all means, it works well with Twitter. Support for your general timeline of tweets means you're phone can never stop vibrating (should you so choose). It is one of the few applications that supports this and if you aren't following too many - it may be your best option. However, the Twitter interface was lacking a bit. To use, it felt cramped and crowded. Whilst this was almost inevitable with the amount of information IM+ provides, it was unfortunate that a better design was not implemented. This isn't to say that isn't purchase-worthy - there are very few clients that support the list of clients IM+ accept, not to mention push. But for tweeting, it didn't feel quite right.
Like the original Boxcar, Tweet Push is built for push only. It leaves the tweeting to the pros, including Tweetie and Twitterific. It supports multiple accounts and will alert you, as expected, whenever you receive an @reply or direct message. For the initial $0.99 payment, it is an impressive application. However, in order to maintain the servers used to forward tweets - TweetPush is one of the few apps on the App Store that use a monthly payment system. You can purchase an additional service in 30, 120 or 150-pushes-a-day blocks.
UK'ers can rejoice, O2 now supports tweets via texts. Whilst it doesn't support @replies and direct messages from everyone, you will receive every tweet sent from users who you specify. The texts will either a) come out a bundle (PAYG or contract) or b) be charged at the national rate. There is a fair usage policy limit - 600. As it doesn't work with push, no data connection is needed. Our tests times were about average on text message vs. push.
The App Store has a vast array of choices when it comes to tweeting. Even when throwing push notifications into the equation, there are no shortage of clients available for you to install. Which one is best? Well, that's down to you... but please twell(?) us your favorite. :-)
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