The official BlackBerry Twitter client was shipped out to a group of select testers, one of which is BlackBerry Cool. I thought I’d put together some initial thoughts on the app, with the understanding that it’s still in beta and and a work in progress.
The design of this app is really nice but a little too cluttered. The top row of icons takes up too much space, and you can only see 2 tweets when you immediately press the “Home” icon. If you scroll down, you can only see at most 3 tweets. This alone would make me not use the Twitter client as scrolling through tweets can be a huge pain. Ideally, you could change something in the options to shrink the font size or tweak the UI. Many of the icons are duplicated in the options menu, which makes me wonder why they even need the icons.
Along the top of the screen, you have Home, @ Mentions, My Profile, Direct Messages, Find People, Search and Popular Topics. While the first icons are all standard and nothing to write a blog about, Find People, Seach and Popular Topics are a cool addition to a Twitter client. The Find People section is almost useless, because it asks you to type in a username, business, first or last name. I’ve said this a million times but the whole point of RIM developing an app is so that it integrates with the device. Not only should it search my Address Book for contacts, but it should add something to each of my contacts that says “See Latest Tweets.”
The Twitter search is really robust, allowing you to specificy the proximity of your search, as well as define keywords, hashtag topics, language, location, dates, “Attitudes” (positive, negative, asking question), and whether the tweet contains a link. While it’s a really cool feature, I’m having a hard time understanding why the average Twitter user would find this useful. This sort of feature is really useful for public relations professionals but the average person tweeting about the awesome ham sandwich they had won’t care.
Trending is another feature, like search, that I don’t see the average Twitter user really making much use of. Sometimes it’s fun to find other people through trending, but I don’t think it gets used enough to merit a place on the homescreen of the application. Overall, this app needs to do a better job of icon hierarchy. That which is not used daily, or even hourly, has no place on the homescreen. Also, quick keys will get us there faster than an icon, so perhaps everything should be left to the menu button.
In terms of integration with your BlackBerry, there isn’t much. Direct Messaging is built into the Messages folder in a pretty cool way. When you receive a DM, you get a notification in your inbox, and when you select it, you get a quick access version of the Twitter app to respond. As you can see from the screenshot, it is a pop-up version of the client for DMs. The downside is that this pop-up also applies to @ Mentions and DMs that you send. I can see this cluttering my Messages folder pretty fast. Although you can completely turn it off in the options, you should be able to customize it more.
The options menu provides the following:
- Include Twitter Messages in the BlackBerry Messages Application
- Automatic Tweet Resfresh
- Resfresh Tweets Every: 10 minutes (default)/ 5 minutes/ 15 minutes/ 30 minutes/ 1 hour
- Notify on new tweets
- Number of Tweets per Refresh 20 (default)/ 40/ 60/ 80/ 100
- Distance Measured in: KM/ Mi
- Spell Check Before Sending
- Check for Upgrade Now
Since this is a beta, I’m not going to say difinitevely whether this app is a success or failure. All I can say is that as it stands, it needs to work on more features that will differentiate itself from the Twitter clients that are already on the market. Unless something major is done with the UI and feature set, I’ll stick to UberTwitter and/or Social Scope.
UPDATE: Just some other thoughts I’ve had after reading Inside BlackBerry’s post. It’s great that Push technology is being used to get the tweets instantly, and I know a lot of users will appreciate it. It’s also good to be able to share pics, but I would have liked video as well. Also, you should be able to select what Twitter picture service you would like to use.
Head to blackberry.com/twitter and sign up to receive notification when Twitter for BlackBerry is available to all via open public beta later this year.