• Ugh. New Twidroid hides tweet button behind menu. I hated that in other Twitter apps. It’s like they took away the Easy Button. # Update: They brought it back two days later. #
  • What I like about Twidroid: streamlines common tasks (less so in 2.5), custom notifications per type. #
  • Also: Just realized the “busy” animation in the ada titlebar is actually a miniature game of Pong. #

I’ve been having trouble trying to find a good Twitter app for my Android phone.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m extremely happy with Twidroid, which I’ve been using since I got the phone. The problem is that I need a good second app, because I have two accounts I want to use. Update: This is no longer a problem (see end).

I ♥ Twidroid

I keep going back to Twidroid for two main reasons:

  • It lets me do everything I want to do with Twitter on my phone.
  • It makes the most common tasks as streamlined as possible.

That second item is really the key. Most other Twitter apps I’ve tried tend to get in the way. Want to post something new? Hit the menu button, then choose an item from a pop-up toolbar. Want to open a link? Press and hold, then select from a big long menu.

With Twidroid, buttons for posting a new tweet, showing replies, posting/viewing direct messages, and refreshing the view are right there at the bottom of the screen. One tap and you’re posting. One tap and you’re pulling in new messages. One tap and you’re looking at replies. And you open links by tapping a message, not pressing and holding.

It’s like the “easy button” from the Staples commercials.

Twidroid also ties in to the Android OS, making it easy to share a link directly from the browser, or share a photo directly from the image gallery.

Another nice feature is that it can break down background notifications by category. If I want it to check for replies and direct messages and sound an alert, but not worry about general posts until I look, I can tell it to do so.

I Tweet

I Tweet ($2.99) is very close, and I’ve been using it as my secondary app for several months. It ties into the OS, does photo uploads and URL shortening, lets me customize notifications, etc… but it has a tendency to get in the way. The user interface is pretty, but cluttered. The things I want to do most often require multiple taps (or worse, press-and-hold, like opening a link).

The worst part is that if I don’t let it check periodically for new messages, I can’t tell it to pull in new ones when I launch it… and it won’t always retrieve older posts. If I post something before hitting refresh (which is hidden behind the menu button), it won’t pull in anything further back than the post I just made.

Trial and Error

At this point, I’ve got my personal account @KelsonV set up on Twidroid. That’s the one I have linked to this blog and to Facebook. I’ve got @SpeedForceOrg running on I Tweet. I’ve been using it a lot lately with the lead-up to Comic-Con International, and those few problems have started really bothering me.

So I tried a bunch of others this weekend.

  • Twitli – I used this one for a while a few months ago, but it was kind of buggy. The last straw came when I was trying to upload a photo during WonderCon, and I switched the account to Twidroid for the duration of the con. I only gave it a glance this time around.
  • Loquacious – nice w/ multiple accounts & photo integration, but incomplete. No notifications, can’t share a link from browser — heck, no settings at all other than login+password and filters. Either that or the demo is crippleware in addition to being time-limited. Also, suffers from press-n-hold syndrome like I Tweet.
  • Twitta – too basic.
  • Twit2go – Photo uploads worked decently, and it was able to do notifications the way I wanted, but it didn’t hook into the OS as well as Twidroid or I Tweet. And it was yet another case of press-and-hold to open a menu that includes opening links. I decided to stick with it for a few days, though, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it did pull new messages automatically when opened, so I wouldn’t have to worry about missing anything. Gave up on it when I tried to retweet a post that ended up being too long, and rather than let me edit it down to size it just cut off the end…which happened to be the link.

So I’m back to Twidroid and I Tweet for now. I’ll probably end up swapping the accounts again and putting SpeedForceOrg on Twidroid, since that’s the one I’m likely to be using most during the con. *sigh* Why do I have to make things more complicated for myself than they have to be?

Update: A few months after I wrote this, Twidroid released Twidroid Pro, which adds several features on top of the free version…including multiple accounts!

It’s a trending topic, but there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the Twitpocalypse. Here’s what’s going on, in layman’s terms (I hope).

What’s happening?

  1. Every Twitter post has an ID number that goes up by 1 each time.
  2. When a computer program stores a number, it sets aside a certain amount of space for it. Bigger numbers take more space because they have more digits.
  3. One common format is called a “signed integer.” It has 32 binary digits (1 or 0 only) with one digit set aside to indicate a minus sign. The biggest number it can store is 2,147,483,647.
  4. Twitter’s status IDs are approaching that number.

So what’s the likely impact?

  • Twitter itself can handle bigger numbers and will be fine.
  • Third-party apps that store the ID in a bigger format will be fine.
  • Third-party apps that store the ID as text instead of a number will be fine.
  • Third-party apps that store the ID in this particular format will end up with bad IDs as they try to cram a big number into a small space.

If I were to guess, the most likely breakage would be that replies might be attached to the wrong previous post — but again, only with apps that use this particular format for numbers.

Twitter itself will probably sail through cleanly (and has been planning to move up the schedule so that affected app developers don’t have to fix things in the middle of the night), so don’t expect any fail whales. Unless so many clients have problems that lots of people switch to the website.

Update: Not surprisingly, most Twitter clients are unaffected by the Twitpocalypse. I’ve used both Twidroid and Twhirl with no problems since Twitter passed the mark. I figured a few would get tripped up, but the real surprise is that it hit Twitterrific. One of the most popular clients on the iPhone? They do have an update, but a lot of people are unable to connect.