(Editor’s Note: This post was submitted prior to the changes at Twitter.com in regards to @replies versus @yourusername and how it handles that. Please take that into consideration when reading!)
When I was new to twitter, I had no idea what I was doing — as is the case for most people when they first sign up. After I started following a few people I noticed all the different applications their Tweets were coming from: Twhirl, TweetDeck, Twittelator, Twitterific, PowerTwitter, TwitterFon, the list goes on. How do you sort through all of them and find the right application to use? Is any one of them better than the others? After trying nearly everything, I have a few ideas as to how to find the right Twitter app to suit your needs.
What’s the difference?
Web: probably the most widely used application Twitter is through the simple web interface at Twitter.com. Upsides: simple, clean, and easy to use. Downsides: crappy link shortening, so you have to go shorten links somewhere else; can’t see @ mentions of you; can’t easily retweet; and if you follow lots of people it’s easy for tweets to get missed.
PowerTwitter: PowerTwitter is a Firefox add-on that allows you to still use the web interface, but had additional features such as including Facebook status updates, allows you to see all @mentions, allows easy searches, photos, easy link shortening. Upsides: includes a lot of the features that the web interface misses. Downside: still have to go to twitter.com in your browser to use it.
Twhirl: Twhirl is one of the most popular desktop clients for Twitter, and has a running stream of Tweets that updates every few minutes so you never miss a thing. Upsides: constantly updating stream, catches all @replies. Downsides: no groups or other advanced features; pretty functional.
TweetDeck: TweetDeck is another one of the most popular desktop clients for Twitter. The main function that distinguishes TweetDeck is its ability to let you create groups and add your favorite Tweeters to these groups. Downside: clunky, large, takes up whole screen; often takes a while to update DMs. Upside: easy organization of groups, can incorporate facebook statuses, catches all @mentions
If you’re an IPhone user, there’s tons of different apps out there; I can’t possibly cover them all in this post, but I’ll cover some of the most popular:
Tweetie: By far one of the most popular. Heavy on the features; allows you to tweet from multiple accounts, easy organization of tweets, replies, and DMs. Upsides: has almost every feature you could want. Downsides: costs $3; doesn’t cache Tweets.
Twittelator Pro: Referred to by Gizmodo as the “Big daddy” of Twitter iPhone apps. Has almost every feature you could want: search, custom groups, multiple accounts, check nearby tweets, etc. Upside: every imaginable feature. Downside: cost, and also freezes up often Cost: $5. There is also a free version of Twittelator available with less features.
Twitterific: Presents all incoming Tweets in a single stream, including @replies and DMs. Upside: extremely easy-to-read stream of Tweets. Downside: Since its focus is more on reading than doing, it lacks other major features. Cost: there’s a free version and a $10 version — but both are similar
TwitterFon: one of the most full-featured free apps. Upsides: allows TwitPic, search, easy-to-read layout, fast load time. Downsides: no multiple accounts or themes.
TwitterBerry: Is the most widely used Blackberry app. It’s free, but has limited features. Upsides: allows Twitpic, organizes DMs and @ replies and timeline. Downsides: doesn’t show @mentions, no groups, no multiple accounts
Other mobile phone apps
TinyTwitter: will work on any Windows mobile phone, smartphone, BlackBerry, or other Java-enabled phone.Has most basic features, although you cannot follow new users.
PockeTwit: also works on any Windows Mobile phone or Smartphone; popular with Windows Mobile users. Upsides: search, link shortening, multiple accounts, free.
Some questions to ask yourself
1. Are you using Twitter a lot at work, and/or working from home? Then you might want to check out the desktop applications like Twhirl and TweetDeck.
2. Do you want to see particular people’s Tweets without having to swim through the rest? Then TweetDeck might be your best bet so you can create groups.
3. Are you only interested in checking Twitter a limited number of times per day? Then the web interface or PowerTwitter might be for you. If you like constant updates throughout the day, go for Twhirl or TweetDeck.
4. Are you constantly on the go? Then a mobile phone app is for you. Consider your budget and how often you like to Tweet per day when choosing a mobile phone app.
No matter what your working style and Twitter style — there is definitely a Twitter application out there that fits your needs and style. Try a few out and see what works for you!