We all know about twitter, the online social networking/IRC thing. (got its own wiki now too). Well it’s been around for a while now (it’s been operational since March 2006). So with something as mature as this you would expect an extension of the API onto the desktop and generally outside the browser.
And so there are a range of desktop tools that allow you to access Twitter outside of the browser. What are they like? Some good some not so good. Is there a perfect one? Sadly there isn’t. They all lack in some point or another. Here’s a short overview:
Windows Vista – Sidebar gadget by Rod Begbie
Now this sidebar isn’t too bad, shows the letter count left, the person, and the tweet (twitter terminology explained by Ben Buchanan). But the amount of room for the tweet text and number of them it can display at once does mean that it suffers from the same problem as Twitgit, bad use of desktop space.
MAC OS X plugin for iChat by ROFL Software
Basically Chitter is accessing the Jabber configuration seamlessly, no real improvements over any other IM application. Not bad but it has been surpassed by other applications. However to be fair it is within iChat, so it has that as a limited environment.
MAC OSX plugin for Adium by Jesse Newland
Basically an addon a Adium, nothing really special as you can access twitter from Gtalk (Jabber) anyway. So this is no real enhancement.
MAC OSX by Iconfactory
This is a very professionally produced standalone application. Nice features, you can reduce the size of the window down to the current tweet (message). Switch from friends to public messages. It displays the tweeters avatar. But it fails in the basic concept that the twitter web site has. On the web site you can see the last 40 tweets, and hence you don’t have to pay attention to the screen not to miss something, you just glace at in every few hours to get an update. With Twitterrific all you see of the stream of twitters is the time and the person’s name not the tweet text as your would expect.
MAC OSX Dashboard Widget by Ben Ward
This application is limited, it’s not that functionally flash, you can only see a few tweets at a time, which can be frustrating, but you can scroll down to see them all if you wish. But Ben does get it. Twitgit displays the time, the person and the tweets all at once on the screen next to the other tweets. However it’s very limited in its use of desktop real estate, a little better consideration of the design and it could be a killer little dashboard widget.
MAC OSX Dashboard Widget by Aquabox
Very limited functionality, just allows you to update twitter. It has no download of the stream from twitter at all. For me the whole point of twitter is the stream and seeing what others are doing.
MAC OSX by RAILhead Design
Not as well designed an interface as Twitterrific. However it does have a better layout for the functionality it has. But again it displays from the stream only the persons name and when the twitter occurred in the list format, not the twitter itself. So you have to be watching all the time or you will miss some tweets. Nice feature in that it gives you a letter count.
Overall no one tool seems to get it, so that puts me back on the Twitter web interface,; luckily they seem to be having daily interface updates on the web site.