Twitter Desktop App Showdown: Which Twitter Desktop App Is the Best?
Twitter is really hot right now, which means the number of third-party applications developed using the Twiter API is growing rapidly. One of the largest sectors for growth is the desktop Twitter application market. Most people that use Twitter do so through desktop applications instead of the Twitter web interface. Most Twitter desktop applications are built using Adobe’s AIR platform and use the twitter API to allow users to send and receive messages and use Twitter search.
With the announcement of the Seesmic desktop application the space is beginning to get crowded. So which one should you use? Which on is the best?
Those are two very different questions. All of the major Twitter applications need improvements and depending on the type of Twitter user you are will impact which application you like the best. I am going to go through and list the pros and cons as well as “who” should use the top 4 applications: Tweetdeck, Yahoo Sideline, Seesmic, and Nambu. Additionally, I have included a video walk through of all of the apps if you would like to get some additional feedback.
Note: All of these applications are currently free.
Pros: Tweetdeck in recent months has emerged as the gold standard for Twitter desktop applications because of its layout, twitter search features, 12seconds.tv integration and overall design and performance. When compared to the four apps reviewed in this post Tweetdeck has been in development the longest and as you would suspect has a deep set of features and a refined design. Tweetdeck integrates most of the URL shortening services along with tweet shrink which helps shorten your message to fit the 140 character limit.
Cons/Suggested Improvements: For an app that feels polished and is out of beta, I have had a lot of problems with it crashing in OS X. Additionally Tweetdeck can be a big RAM hog and really slow down your computer. The black color scheme does not blend well with other applications windows and needs to be changed.
Who Should Use It: If you have a powerful laptop and desktop with plenty of RAM and want the feel of a polished app with all the bells and whistles then Tweetdeck is the desktop app for you.
Pros: Yahoo maybe in decline, but it still has people that build clean useful applications. Sideline which allows a user to track search terms and trending topics on Twitter search is fast and extremely stable for a new app. It is easy to use and the design aside from the color scheme is spot on. The tabs for saved searches work well and will make sense to most users because they are like the tabbed web browsing experience. The ability to add multiple search terms under one tab is also a key feature.
Cons/Suggested Improvements: Sideline is a one-trick pony, despite the fact that it is a good trick, the lack of other features won’t work for some users. Sideline is strictly search, to reply to a tweet that you see in Sideline, you must click the reply button, but it will take you to your Twitter.com page to actually type and send your reply. Sideline also doesn’t have many other features that regular Twitter users have come to use heavily like direct messages and URL shortening.
Who Should Use It: Sideline really only serves a niche of the Twitter comunity. It is best for companies that want to monitor but not participate in Twitter and for Twitter “power” users that are following too many people and need a better way to filter tweets.
Pros: Seesmic desktop is clean, has the look of an OS X application and is very user friendly. Though just released and still in beta you can tell the app has been well conceived. Seesmic desktop supports multiple twitter accounts, provides single or multi column viewing options, and allows for new columns of saved search terms. Additionally it lets you group people for further filtering and supports many popular URL shortening services. The left hand navigation makes it easier to access columns and is faster than scrolling like Tweetdeck users have to do. It also features a mute button for the sound effects, which is a nice touch.
Cons/Suggested Improvements: From the start you can tell the Seesmic’s new desktop client is still in beta. It is buggy and needs further tweaking. Having to click to add a link versus just having a blank below the message box will be a turn-off for many Tweetdeck users. For me and many others the inability to adjust column width and placement easily is the biggest usability hurdle the app faces. Columns are not wide enough, but at the same time individual tweets are taking up too much space.
Who Should Use It: People who do or did like using Twhirl will feel at home with this app, as will users who still haven’t fully embraced the design and UI of Tweetdeck. Seesmic though much like Tweetdeck seems friendlier to new users, but will likely not convert many loyal Tweetdeck users.
Pros: For Mac users Nambu is a Twitter client that has burst onto the scene and gotten a lot of early adoption and positive feedback. Though Nambu uses columns like Tweetdeck and Seesimc the remainder of the user experience is different. The message composition box is on the bottom instead of the top. One of Nambu’s killer features is the ability to search and filter words within columns, meaning you could see all of your replies about a certain keyword instead of having to hunt and peck for them. Nambu also supports one or multiple column viewing as well as URL shortening. It uses growl to check for software updates. Instead of offering shortcuts such as replies over profile images it has an action icon on the far right of each tweet and action icons at the top of each column. It is a clean refined app that doesn’t crash and runs really fast. It also threads replies in the sent messages column which is really nice!
Cons/Suggested Improvements: Nambu is Mac only so it is going to leave a lot of folks out who use PCs. Additionally the compose box should be bigger and I am not a huge fan of having it on the bottom. The action icon with the drop options still seems a little out of place and needs to be refined.
Who Should Use It: Mac owners who want a native desktop app that is lightning fast and packed full of features will love Nambu. Long term users of Tweetdeck and Twhirl will be thrown off by the UI changes but if they can stick it out will be rewarded with a strong user experience, but few will probably have the patience to.
For an additional look at these four applications please take a few minutes to watch my video walk through:
Did this review help? Which app will you use?