updated 08:25 pm EDT, Fri April 30, 2010
Twitter makes simple but full Android client
Twitter tonight brought out its heavily anticipated Twitter app for Android. The official client provides the usual messaging and media sharing features but, in contrast to some outside apps, integrates deeply into Android itself. Updates for a particular contact can now be found in any app that uses Google's official QuickContact bar, and a cloud of recent Twitter updates will appear on a searchable Google map.
Due to the deep hooks, the official app needs a phone running Android 2.1 or later, such as the Droid, Droid Incredible or Nexus One. Twitter vows to be fair to other developers and notes that Google will open-source the APIs and code used to make the software.
We've already tried the app and found that it bucked the trend of featureless official apps; Twitter's is surprisingly loaded. At a minimum, it's appreciated to filter messages not just by @ mentions and direct messages but also lists (which are still only sometimes found elsewhere) and retweets. The interface is almost expectedly very simple, but it's also very clever in how it exposes features: the menu options appear attached to the tweet itself, not unlike Tweetie (which will soon be the official iPhone app for Twitter). It's fast and attractive compared to its sometimes plain competitors.
We somewhat question the practicality of the map feature, although we could see it being useful for those who often follow local friends and want to know where they are. The extensive sharing features and contact integration, however, are definitely handy and mean you can almost always share with a service you use or deal with Twitter without having to visit a specific app.
Our only immediate complaint is simply the navigation between different levels. Rather than have all tweets, mentions and other categories available through a single nav bar (again like Tweetie), the Android app forces you to jump back to the home screen to go to a different view. There are a handful of advantages, such as more visible space for updates, but it can be a pain if you regularly reply to or direct message those you follow.
Still, for a 1.0 app, the new client does a surprisingly large amount of things well right away and could be enough for even some power users.