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Review: Seesmic (Twitter app) for Android

On Windows Mobile the definitive Twitter app for me was PocketTwit. Although there were many different Twitter clients available on Windows Mobile, none of them could match the functionality and the user interface of PocketTwit. But on Android i still haven’t found the single best Twitter client for my demands. I started out using HTC Peep because it comes with great UI style and a good widget, but because of performance issues (updating tweets just took way too long) i switched to Swift, which is my current default Twitter client. Recently Seesmic released a Twitter app for Android (also available for Blackberry) which i tried out for a few days. Let’s take a look how good the newest entry to the Twitter client list for Android fares.

When it comes to the user interface, Seesmic is the best Twitter client on the market. You don’t even have to use the app for a long time to realize this, just take a look at the timeline view after setting up your account and you’ll see that Seesmic provides a much more professional look than any other Twitter app out there (including Twidroid Pro). The only Twitter client which may look even better is HTC Peep which is not available on the market, but only preinstalled on HTC devices like the HTC Hero with HTC Sense UI. So as already mentioned, after setting up your Twitter account you’ll see the following timeline view.

seesmic timeline

The top area shows the timeline, replies, direct message and profile tabs. This is one of the standard layouts many apps on Android use, and it just works very well. Every tab is comfortably reachable and i prefer this layout to the other approaches on the market. There is also a button placed above the first timeline entry which can be used to refresh the timeline. Furthermore pressing the menu hardware button will provide the options to refresh, compose a new tweet and to access the settings (this is valid for the reply and direct message tabs too). Sadly the first setback is also visible on the timeline view: the speed. Seesmic just can’t compete with Swift when it comes to the pure speed of updating the timeline. In this regard all other Twitter clients are not as fast as Swift, so Seesmic in not the only app which falls short.

seesmic timeline options

Opening the replies tab will show the list of @replies to your Twitter account.

seesmic replies

By tapping on an entry you will open the detail view. A very nice feature is the possibility to directly open the Tweet which you got the reply for. That way you can actually browse easily through a complete conversion without much effort, since every @reply will show the Tweet it replied to (this applies not only for your Tweets but also the Tweet of the person who replied to you). Of course you have all the basic options on the detail view, like composing a public reply, a direct message or retweeting.

seesmic reply detail

The direct messages overview is similar to the timeline and reply lists, with a little twist. As you can see on the screenshot every item has also an arrow icon at the right edge. This is the indicator that a conversation view is available.

seesmic direct messages

After opening the detail view of a direct message you will see the complete conversation as a list. I really love this feature, and the implementation is even more comfortable than the way you can view conversations on the reply tab. I’m not sure why Seesmic doesn’t use the same conversation view for replies, but i guess this has to do with the Twitter API not supporting this kind of query for public conversations.

seesmic direct messages conversation

Seesmic also has an own tab to show your profile with informations about your tweets, your followers, the people you follow and your favourite tweets. By tapping on the corresponding button you can open details like the complete list of your followers, and their profiles.

seesmic profile

The next screen shows how the profile of your follower (or a person you follow) looks like. You can see details about followers, tweets and people the person follows (like on your own profile view) with following additional options:

– Public reply
– Direct message
– Follow/ Unfollow/ Block

Not every Twitter client provides the following/ unfollowing function, so it’s nice to see Seesmic supporting this, besides the messaging options.

seesmic profile follower

Composing a new tweet is very straightforward. Write your message, choose to shorten an URL if needed or to upload a picture/ video, and select whether you want to send your GPS position too.

seesmic new tweet

Seesmic provides quite a few options including:

– Number of Tweets displayed
– Notification options (background notification, update interval, vibration, ringtone, LED)
– Photo services (yFrog, Twitpic, MobyPicture)
– Video services (yFrog, Twitvid, YouTube)
– URL shortening services (Bit.ly, J.mp, Tinyurl)

Lists are not supported yet, and multiple accounts are missing too. But other than that most important options are there.

seesmic preferences

The verdict

Seesmic is a very good first effort. The user interface is clearly the best out of all Twitter clients on the market, and there are also a few very cool features available, like the conversation view of direct messages. One of the areas were Seesmic needs to be optimized is the performance, since updating tweets and scrolling is not as smooth as on other Twitter clients for Android (like Swift in example). Furthermore Seesmic needs a font size option, since the default font size for the timeline and other lists is way too small. But overall i can recommend to give Seesmic a try, and then decide for yourself if the great style is enough to compensate for the slower pace of this Twitter app. After the latest update, Seesmic is already a little bit more stable and faster, but still has some way to go. If the performance issue is solved, it has the best chances to become my default Twitter client, because i really like the nice and intuitive user interface.

UPDATE: Seesmic (Version 1.2.1) really made some big strides after the initial update, as nearly all of my mentioned drawbacks have been solved. It’s much speedier now, you have font size settings and the scrolling is very smooth too. Therefore i have changed my rating from 3,5 stars to 4 stars. Seesmic is my current Twitter client of choice for Android.

Rating: ★★★★☆