So I have been given the privilege to be one of fifty beta testers on an up and coming Twitter app for android called Tweetcaster made by Handmark (who have let me beta test other apps in the past) and I must say, its a damn good start. I have done the majority of my testing from a my new Nexus One but also have installed it on my trusty rooted myTouch 3G, and the devs have done a great job of making it visually stunning on both devices (though clearly it looks better on the N1). The app is feature packed and generally offers just about everything that established Android apps like Twidroid and Seesmic do even in its beta infancy. I’ve used it as my main client for viewing and posting tweets the last few days and have not experienced a hang up, slow down or a crash, so I’m thinking its about ready for prime time soon. Here’s what I thought:
Being an Android user since its debut with the T-Mobile G1, I’ve watched the Android Market really grow into maturity. I can remember when the only Twitter app was Twidroid and in its infancy, was very limited compared to the features its thrown in as of late. Now however, we have an array of decent Twitter apps and I expect Tweetcaster to be right up there with the veterans even if its not my cup of tea right now.
Upon first load, your asked to Login (it supports multiple accounts) and then presented with its default “light” theme which shows your tweets in a messaging style interface where others’ tweets are shown in gray and tweets by you in green and facing the opposite direction (think default iPhone messaging app). I believe Swift does this as well but Tweetcaster does it in a more visually appealing way. From the main screen you can quickly jump to @replies, DM’s, Favorites, and Lists you subscribe to as well options up top to post a new tweet and switch accounts if you have more than one. All in all, its what should be in a twitter client and my only complaint, is that you only see 4 tweets before having to scroll down, which makes for very easy reading but also a lot of scrolling just to see a few tweets. Clicking on a users tweet brings up options to retweet, reply, favorite as well as a clickable URL if the user has one in his tweet. Clicking on a Users profile gives the ability to block, show profile, reply, report spam and DM. For the most part, Tweetcaster provides just about everything you need from twitter without even having to click the hard menu button, which is always nice in my opinion.
Once clicking the new tweet option, your presented with a very simple blue input box with an “Eye” on the left top which, once selected, splits the screen in half so that you can scroll through the latest tweets and still have a tweet input box below, semi useful I guess. On the Right is the Send tweet button and down below is a Character Counter which if clicked, presents options to Shrink URL’s, insert pictures , find twitter usernames of those you follow and Geotag your location. Pretty standard stuff, but then again, Twitter itself is very simple and throwing the whole feature set into a client isn’t the hard part but rather making it easy to use, fast and visually appealing are.
A click of the hard menu button from the main screen brings up options to jump to top, refresh, list followers/following and a tweet filter (which will filter all the current tweets it has loaded and does it in real time as you type the keyword) and finally an option for More which is how you access the settings. The Settings Menu is in no way as intense as say Twidroid, but the basics are there. As of now, Tweetcaster has two themes, a light and and a dark theme, and I’m not a hundred percent sure which one I like better yet, there both easy on the eyes. Photo hosting and URL Shorteners are limited but you get the big names like Bit.ly, Twitpic and Yfrog which is generally what most use anyway. Video tweeting doesn’t seem to be supported at this time but I’m sure its in the pipeline. There is an option to check/uncheck background notifications and auto-refresh options range from every 30 seconds to every 30 minutes, in future releases it would be nice to see that extended out to maybe an hour or possibly every 2 hours for those who don’t use twitter as heavily.
All in all, for a beta release I am very pleased with Tweetcaster and am even more pleased to see the competition heating up in the Android Twitter department. I can’t say I use Tweetcaster as my main Twitter app yet, but I also can’t say I wont. I think the developers have a very good start to work with and I’m excited to see this project develop further. Look out for its release in the coming weeks in the Android Market.
I’ve attached some screen shots here