Anyone who’s been with Android – and naturally, with Twitter – since the beginning knows the story about Twidroid: It was the first Twitter client on Android to set the bar of what a Twitter app should be. It gets a shaky reputation for being unreliable, somewhat unstable, and very inconsistent on its performance over time, but that was back in ’08. It’s 2010 now, and Twidroid has grown a considerable amount since then. It’s even pioneered the advancement of new core Twitter features such as native retweets and list support.
We’re going to focus on what Twidroid is and not what it was: a damn good client that should be your first stop in the market if you need something to get all of your tweeting done. Twidroid’s user interface should stand out as remarkable to anyone that needs a good combination of features, usability, and aesthetics: it looks absolutely wonderful.
The default sky-blue theme fits well with the look and feel of Twitter.com itself, and the ability to switch between multiple themes in the “Pro” version grants you a degree of customization that isn’t often available in other clients.
Hi-res icons ensure that everything within the app look great, and on various screen sizes and resolutions. You can change font settings and even disable profile pictures for faster loading times and better performance. Twidroid steps away from the usual cast of icons to put its own spin on the different functions you can tap into. There’s a lot more substance beyond the app’s looks, though.
This high degree of style doesn’t come with any notable performance issues. The Twidroid of today is miles ahead of the version we were treated to just months ago: tweets load exceptionally fast, navigating through the interface and scrolling through the timeline is a lot smoother, and I rarely, if ever, run into any force close issues.
Those are all things you expect from any application, though, but Twidroid packs a powerful feature set that a lot of apps can’t hold a candle to. In the pro version especially, multiple account support (with combined or swipe-able view) is a god-send for those of us who need to handle multiple accounts. Usually, you’ll have to look to a desktop client to get that sort of functionality but Twidroid manages to put it all in the palm of your hand.
Managing multiple accounts is simple, but I would love it if I could select multiple accounts from which to tweet (currently, you can only select one at a time). I also found it quite confusing to delete an account: naturally I’d long-press on the list item and expect to find an option there, but instead you have to press the Account and then press your phone’s “Menu” button to find an option to delete.
That was a minor annoyance, though, which doesn’t bother me as much now that I at least know how to get to it (and honestly, who’s going to be deleting accounts that much anyway?). Other useful features that you won’t find in many other clients is the ability to reply to all (so you don’t have to type each name separately if multiple people were mentioned), auto-complete usernames whenever you press use the “@” character (in case you can’t remember the exact twitter name of someone you follow) and in-depth search features to ensure you stay on top of whatever you’re looking for.
Specifically for search, I would love to see some options for setting local Trend and Search options – even if divisible by country alone – so I can weed out some of the tweets that I can’t even understand. Everything else here seems to be top-notch, including support for saving your search terms and synching them to the Twitter server, as well as a Twittersphere option that’ll pull up a list of links related to what’s trending on Twitter at the time.
Composing a tweet is very simple as the app presents you with a collapsable interface to write your tweet, attach files, and send it off into the cloud, but there are some annoyances here. For starters, if you’re a fan of using a d-pad or trackball, it’s rather difficult to navigate the composition window as there is no graphical queue to tell you what’s currently highlighted. Another frustration presents itself when you’re using a phone with a smaller screen (or even any phone in landscape view) and the window takes up half of the real estate.
This might not seem like a deal breaker to some as you’ll most likely be focusing on the tweet you’re writing, but if you are using a large font style and need to go back and forth to reference something in a particular tweet, it does a fantastic job of getting in the way. Check out the gallery of screenshots at the end of this review for examples of what I mean.
That’s very nitpicky stuff, though. Beyond the stream of updates you’ll be getting, Twidroid equips you with an impressive set of preferences you’ll want to dive into to make the app behave exactly as you need it to. There are a ton of options here and it would take too much time to go into each one for the sake of this review’s length (and for the sake of your insanity).
Luckily, whatever you think you’ll need to change will most likely be customizable. From the photo provider you want when you upload those quick pics to changing even the smallest nuance of notification preferences, if Twidroid isn’t what you want it to be out of the box then I’m pretty sure you can make it what you want.
Twidroid was and continues to be an app of firsts in the Twitter space. That continues with its unique – and now imitated – ability to bring plugins into the mix. If you’re a developer, you can create plugins that interface directly with Twidroid to extend its features beyond what you get with the 1.7mb download that this clocks in at. There is very little support right now – There are only two plugins known to exist – but what’s out there shows just how well built Twidroid’s engine is and how extensible it can be. Hopefully, with time, more developrs begin to support this functionality (which I can only describe at this point as virtually useless to the end user).
- An extremely large feature set which includes multiple accounts, a reply-to-all feature, and more
- In-depth customization of every corner of the app
- Great looking app with options to change colors and other appearance settings
- Multiple widget styles in the “Pro” version that give you a great look at the latest tweet information on your homescreen
- Jumping between timelines is somewhat clunky when you have the “remember timeline position option enabled”
- Hashtags can get messed up due to punctuation
- Geo-information seems to work only when it wants to
The Bottom Line:
The guys behind Twidroid work hard on this app to ensure its quality is upheld over its development cycle, and it shows. There are still a few annoyances here and there – such as punctuation being used in the link of a hashtag if there is no space between them – but punch for punch, you’d be hard-pressed to find another Twitter client that gives you this much control over your 140-character life. Try out the free version, and if the features of the pro version house functionality that you can’t go day-to-day without, then I’m sure you won’t even care about the $5 you’ll have to shell out for it. For more details on Twidroid plugins and the differences between the Free and Pro versions, visit http://www.twidroid.com
Be sure to check back frequently as we’ll be bringing you more reviews of some of the premier twitter apps that the Android market has to offer. If there’s a review for an app you want to see in particular, let it be known in the comments below! Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already.
Other posts in the Twitwars series: Twidgit Lite