One of the more common questions I get asked is about what applications I prefer. "What's your favorite Camera app?" Better yet, "What do you use for taking notes?" For the most part, I've answered all of those questions more than once here on PhoneDog. More so than any other application type, however, I'm asked about what Twitter client I use.
For what it's worth, I've covered that, too. But I grouped the answer in with all the other must-have applications I use. Twitter clients are a huge category – a testament to that should be vast amount of options to choose from on any platform. So I've decided to dedicate a piece to detail my favorite Twitter clients, specifically for Android.
Why just Android, though? Oddly enough, while there are a plethora of choices in the Play Store, that's a terribly difficult question to answer.
I've spent more time searching for an adequate Twitter application on Android than I have any of its compatriots. On iOS, BlackBerry and even Windows Phone, it's a quick and simple answer. For iOS, I was quickly pointed in the direction of Tweetbot by colleagues and strictly use it for all my Twitter needs on iOS (iPad and iPhone, and even Mac now). On BlackBerry, I was a long-time user of the one and only Scope (formerly known as SocialScope). And it's Rowi all the way for Windows Phone (now that it has support for multiple accounts).
I was always fairly content with all of these applications on their respective platform. But since day one, I have yet to find a Twitter client on Android that I'm comfortable using, that I wouldn't want to change or can't find something wrong with.
I can remember back when I first tried Android in 2009. I'm fairly certain my very first search in Android Market was "Twitter". And I remember just how unhelpful and pitiful the results were. (Now that very search query returns a daunting number of results.) I don't even remember where I started, but if I were to make a guess, it was probably with twicca. Back then, I enjoyed twicca. It was a well-rounded client, but the login process was atrocious (and it still is) and the overuse of plug-ins – versus simply having the function built-in – drove me up the wall.
Towards the later part of 2009, I moved on to Touiteur. Many of you probably don't recognize the name Touiteur, and that's because LevelUp Studio rebranded after a request directly from Twitter. What was once Touiteur became Plume at the end of 2010, and that's the Android Twitter application that has carried me since. Of all the different Twitter applications I have tried on Android, Plume seems to be the most well-rounded and user-friendly. I'm not particularly fond of how it looks and it could certainly be much better, but it gets the job done and it gets the job done quite well.
But that doesn't mean I've been totally faithful to Plume since December 2010. I have tried oodles of different clients, only to be disappointed.
I tried Alphascope (the alpha version of Scope) the minute it was made available to Android, and I've even downloaded the latest installment of Scope. No cigar. It's beautiful and chock-full of features, such as support for other social accounts like Facebook and Instagram. But it's painstakingly slow. Updates, as well as new status updates, take upwards of a minute to pull, even when on 4G or a fast Wi-Fi connection. And the app painfully lags when doing just about anything with the application. (I've tried this on multiple devices to the same end.)
I went through the official Twitter for Android app, twicca, Seesmic, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, TweetCaster, TWIDROYD and UberSocial. I even went to the desperate measure of trying Taptu. Every single one is atrocious, each in their own way.
There are, however, a few up-and-coming Twitter clients for Android that are very promising. First there is Issimo, a private beta application that I've tried off and on for roughly a year. Graphically, it isn't my favorite, but it was the first (by a long shot) to offer push notifications and is highly customizable. Then there is Boid for Twitter (4.0 and up), which is also still in beta. It's beautiful (it follows Android design guidelines), feature-rich and has one of the most responsive dev teams possible. (They're youngsters, too, which adds to its allure.) As promising as it is, though, it doesn't have all the features I need in a Twitter client yet.
And more recently, there is Tweet Lanes (4.0 and up). I've been switching back and forth between Plume and Tweet Lanes from the time it hit the Play Store 10 days ago, simply because Tweet Lanes is not yet fully-featured. But the developer is dedicated and rolling out new features faster than I can download them. What's so intriguing about Tweet Lanes is its different approach. Straight from the Play Store description:
"Get ready for a new means of tweeting. There's no 'New Tweet' button here. Instead, the ever present Context Tweet Box will serve all your tweet-creation needs."
Tweet Lanes is a late bloomer, but the developer means business and has added several of the missing features I made note of within days of its launch. This is definitely one to keep your eyes on.
And the one client I've been secretly dying to get my fingers on is Carbon for Android; it's set to hit the Play Store for free on the 22nd of this month (just a few days now). Carbon is a popular Twitter client for webOS and Windows Phone, and the developer, Dots & Lines, have been teasing an Android version on Twitter for months now, and just posted a teaser video to YouTube late last week. The most impressive thing about Carbon (besides the gorgeous interface)? Push notifications.
This is what most Android Twitter clients lack, and mostly why I have such a hard time settling with just one. I've been using Plume more consistently than any other client, but that's just because I can't find anything I like any better. Boid, Tweet Lanes and Carbon are the next generation of Twitter clients for Android, and their fully-featured, official releases cannot get here soon enough. And once those mature a bit, I will likely be giving Plume the boot.
Until then, it's Plume for me. Maybe with a side of Tweet Lanes and Carbon (once it's available) to keep from going insane. Tell me, ladies and gents. What is your Twitter client of choice on Android? iOS? Any other platform? What makes it your favorite? And what would you change about it given the chance?