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Review: Tweetdeck Open Beta

My phone plays a large part in retaining my daily sanity. I work at a summer job where there is a lot of downtime, and at the moment I do a lot of switching between my Twitter and Facebook apps to check social streams. While I’ve never been one of those guys to say “Man, I wish I didn’t have to do the arduous process of switching between apps”, I won’t turn down apps that do both jobs well.

I’ll come out and say it: Tweetdeck for Android does that. Amazingly.

Though I had an account, I had never really used Twitter intensely until I installed the Tweetdeck desktop client. The web version’s interface makes is very unwieldly, as you can only see one stream at a time: sometimes friends of mine don’t even notice people are tagging them in posts until way past the fact. Tweetdeck made it easier by sorting different streams into different columns: one for your friends, one for your replies, one for your direct messages and customizable columns for custom searches. Later adding FourSquare and Facebook support, Tweetdeck makes it easy to post and monitor multiple accounts from one suite.

Tweetdeck for Android replicates this well by keeping the column design, which is accessed by swiping from side-to-side, like your home screens. When you start up the app for the first time, it prompts you to add as many accounts as you’d like: currently supported are Twitter (duh), Facebook, Google Buzz and Foursquare. As a result, you can see friends from each network’s posts, which are color-coded for easy viewing. Along the bottom of the home screen are four buttons: from left to right, they allow you to post a new message, manage accounts and view friends (divided by account, or all at once), do a Twitter search and bring up a GPS-enabled map (I’ll come back to this later).

Creating a new post allows you to check off which account you’d like to post the message to. The interface for this is easy to use, as each check-button is color and label-coded, so you don’t confuse accounts. You can attach pictures, location, and search an address book to tag your friends (Twitter only, at the moment) all from one screen. This is everything I expect from a full-featured Twitter client, but being able to post to the other services without having to switch to a widget or app is a great relief.

The account management and friends portion is very robust, allowing for a complete listing of every friend by service and alphabetical order. This is great for messaging specific people, especially when you don’t want to wade through the Twitter web interface’s horribly-sorted mess of icons. You can also write directly to a friend’s Facebook wall from their entry, as well as direct message them on Foursquare.

Also in this part of the app is a listing of your accounts, which allow for a singular view of everything having to do with them; the support for Facebook, Google Buzz and Foursquare is amazing here, even featuring full badge icons and mayorship listings.

Search is very functional, letting you find usernames and hashtags easily. Those hashtag searches can then be added as columns, allowing for real-time tracking. Ultimately, it’s simple, be effective.

Now, I said earlier I would come back to the map, and I’d like to say this: by itself, it has made me uninstall my Foursquare app. The reason is simple: it allows me to view nearby checkins on a map, instead of refreshing an oft-inaccurate list of nearby locations. I like this visual component of the game, as sometimes my GPS will think I’m miles away from where I know I am, and I will have to go into the text search to find my venue. This is a very large improvement over the Foursquare app, even if it requires listings to have accurate addresses. It also lists where friends have checked in by placing their icon on a map, Google Latitude style.  I haven’t been able to see if it works with GPS-enabled Tweets yet, as they do not show up. This would also be a big plus.

The options section is a little lacking, only letting us customize which columns will send a notification to our tray. It would be nice if we had the ability to choose how often they would, but I’m sure that will be included when it comes out of beta. Another desireable feature would be the ability to change the theme, like the desktop client.

But all in all, Tweetdeck has made me go against my rule of loving the first party. They have put together an amazing application that has made me uninstall my Twitter and Foursquare applications from my phone, as really, I don’t need them anymore; Facebook will stay, however, as I need message/photo/event support. Improving systems that already exist by making them easy to use and visually appealing is a sign of great development, and should be what people designing Android apps should strive for.

So go out and sign up for the Tweetdeck open beta; you get an .apk in your confirmation, which you can them use to install your app. Happy tweeting, and feel free to add me @mattdemers.

Matt Demers is a Toronto writer who can’t wait for summer to be over. He writes about Android for Droid-Life and about comics, D&D and other nerdery for NerdGirlPinups.com.

  • http://twitter.com/deannh deann hose

    Can I have two twitter accounts on my phone (Droid Incredible) if I download tweetbeck? I have 2 twitter accounts, one for school and one for personal use.

  • http://twitter.com/deannh deann hose

    Can I have two twitter accounts on my phone (Droid Incredible) if I download tweetbeck? I have 2 twitter accounts, one for school and one for personal use.

    • http://mattdemers.com Matt Demers

      Yes, you can. That's the point of Tweetdeck.

  • JDub429

    press the settings button in tweet deck, column settings, then drag the bar all the way to the right to manual update. you can also change how it notifies you.

  • adams

    this has been updated to version 0.9.2 :)

  • Trez Borrell

    I cannot add columns or get my other twitter accounts. I have a droid. Can anyone help?

    • Mrpicolas

      its still in beta some bugs still patience it'll come

  • miosis

    Didn't this turn out to be a scam?

  • CompCrash

    it is confusing at first, I have trouble getting thing to work the way I like. I know its a beta and things will be improved and get better is it goes. But it is good to see all the postings in one spot. I do like the foursquare a lot better, easy to find venue and check in. Also like seeing where my friends are.

  • BAoxymoron

    I like it so far mostly… obviously needs better option settings and stuff but i've noticed that everything is stored permanently ie. if you unfavorite something it doesn't well for all intents and purposes unfavorite it stays in the column now sometimes it does unfavorite it but it remains in the column permanently…. anyone else notice this?

  • http://www.facebook.com/beegore Brandon Bombard

    Seriously where the hell is the widget??

  • theineffablebob

    It needs a widget.

  • http://twitter.com/Pollita_Droid Erica Marchand

    I'm a fan of Touiteur.. I really really like it and it works great, prior i was all about the official twitter app but Touiteur has put out an incredible product

  • http://chrisbrownweb.com/ Qnowledge (Dominique)

    Personally, I was underwhelmed. I'll stick to using seperate apps. The UI seems to be lacking. It's clean, sure — but I feel like there is not enough functionality. Either that, or it's hidden well. I'll pass on TweetDeck for Android.

  • http://twitter.com/davidgreenville David Coiner

    As someone who is not that familiar with Tweetdeck I found the app to be a but confusing. I was not aware of what I could make columns out of and just had to hunt around in the app. It seemed like I could not do simple things like make a column that just showed my Facebook wall (if there is a way please let me know). I know this is a beta so I will defiantly wait and see how this shapes up.

  • BostonB

    KELEX! Please do a review on the app Talking Tom…. It is the funniest thing I have ever seen

  • Eazy$

    Hey Kellex completely off topic but i was wondering if you can switch between the droid x and the droid. I have both devices and i wanted to upgrade my original droid to the newest froyo update. I currently have the droid x activated and am using it. THanks in advance

  • Rysnstrr

    Off topic hey guys I want to root my droid1 using universal androot v 1.6. Do you guys think that it works. And the say it doesn't unlock the bootloader.what's the bootloader????

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ESR26U42ILWNXGVMWFZ73X24QA Meko Suka

    The notifications in the beta are WEAK! Here's my issue. If I have 10 columns open, I can only use a single notification for all of the columns. Not only is it limited in this way, it's made worse by using the default Android notification system. This is terrible for someone who tracks tons of information on Twitter, FB, FS or even GB. My phone was notifying constantly. The only thing I could really do to alleviate this mess was to disable notifications for all columns.

    I'd like to see if they can implement something which allows custom notifications for each column. This goes for both sound and LED notifications. As it stands now, this is really a beta in every sense around notifications. If they can't work this into FR, I don't really see myself abandoning Twidroyd Pro, FB and FS apps.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shannon-C-Kerr/827781725 Shannon C. Kerr

      Meko, were you able to get separate columns for twitter, facebook etc? I was only able to have one consolidated column for all of my accounts. I really wanted separate columns at least for each of the accounts, but I also I wanted separate columns for each of my twitter streams.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001189473993 Al Melara

    Yah… This is about as exciting as watching grass grow, how about more info on birdman opening the boot loader?

  • dandroid

    Matt, I can't figure out how to organize multiple twitter accounts with this app–do you have any tips? (Or, does anyone?) I have a separate Twitter account for business related issues, how can I use both that account and my personal account in this app?

    • http://mattdemers.com Matt Demers

      You can add a new account by pressing the menu button and then “accounts”. You can add a new Twitter account from there.

  • JosueD

    Wow, Very nice review, Explains everything about the app! Thanks!

    [JD]

  • Serqet

    I'd be very curious what your battery history was like after using this for a while… cause mine, wasn't too hot…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=55712305 Lee Sandy

    anybody know if there's a way to not have it refresh every 5 min (as this is a good way to drain battery quickly)?

    • Paul E.

      That's my only problem with it too… I can't find a settings menu to have it do it less often. Maybe when it's out of beta?

    • Paul E.

      From the support forums, looks like it is a planned update:
      http://support.tweetdeck.com/entries/237031-log

      • JDub429

        press the settings button in tweet deck, column settings, then drag the bar all the way to the right to manual update. you can also change how it notifies you.

    • Serqet

      Agreed… thing killed my battery and has no option of refresh interval. If they get that going and maybe a scrollable widget, this will be awesome.

  • adada

    the original droid is back on the verizon site for sale? anyone else see this?

  • Doolidg

    ZZZZZZZ………zzzzzzz……,,,,,,

    ZZZZZZZZ……zzzzzzzz

  • kulz

    wb Matt, haven't seen one of your reviews in a while

    • http://mattdemers.com Matt Demers

      Thanks man. Good to be back. Work is draining during the summer.

  • nabooska

    first??

    • nabooska

      dammit :(

      • TechDeft

        :) Nice try, you tied him timewise! It was down to seconds!

  • James_g_henry

    wow!!!!!!!!!!!! first