The State of Twitter on BlackBerry

RIM Blackberry Curve 8300 Smartphone I’ve been experimenting with twitter a lot lately. Generally, I find it’s something I use more away from my computer than while I’m at it. However, I’ve been frustrated by my mobile experience more than a few times and I’m not sure where to head next. I have a BlackBerry Curve with service via AT&T. I’m reasonably happy with the phone. If you think of twitter as SMS2 you’ll start to understand how I’ve been using it. When I’m at my computer, I reach out to individuals, I connect with co-workers via IM, Skype, Email, Facebook, MySpace etc. When I’m away from the full glory of my machine, I do lighter communication – SMS and twitter. Keep in mind, this is a generalization.

Currently as a BlackBerry user, you’ve got a few options for accessing twitter (options are good right?), each of which I’ll get into more detail about below:

  1. m.twitter.com – the mobile phone optimized version
  2. twitter.com – the full blown site
  3. TinyTwitter
  4. TwitterBerry
  5. GTalk

This chart summarizes my experience using the different methods of accessing twitter, but keep reading for more detail.

Reply History Images Usable
m.twitter.com (BB) No Yes No Yes
twitter.com (BB) No No No No
m.twitter.com (Opera) No Yes No Yes
twitter.com (Opera) Yes Yes Yes YMMV
TwitterBerry No No Yes Yes
TinyTwitter Yes Yes YMMV Yes
GTalk n/a n/a n/a n/a


For the purpose of this chart:
“reply” indicates a one click (no human memory required) method for replies.
“history” indicates the ability to see more than the most recent feed items.
“images” indicates that the sender’s avatar is present.
“usable” indicates that this method for accessing twitter is reasonable.

m.twitter.com

I use both Opera Mini and the built in browser for accessing web content. Both of these browsers are slow to start (if you don’t have an existing session) and neither is particularly snappy to navigate via bookmark or other method to sites you’ve been to already. Once you get past that, the feed is lacking in images, reply, favorites – it’s really just the bare essentials. Probably great for lesser phones, but the BlackBerry does okay with images and there’s a reasonable amount of screen real estate available. It loads quickly (~10-15 seconds) which is nice. Opera Mini is about the same, but loads a little faster and is more intuitive to jump around the page (at least for me) by using the number pad.

BlackBerry Browser - Twitter MobileOperaMini Twitter Mobile

twitter.com – the real site

The BlackBerry mobile web browser is terrible for most “Web 2.0″ sites, twitter is no exception. It takes forever to load the page (>=1 minute). The site is almost unusable because of the formatting and looks generally bad. In terms of information density, you actually get LESS information on the full site using the built in browser and for anyone thinking it’s passable, I advise against it. OperaMini does a much better job on the full site if you can deal with the ajax responses not being processed correctly (although everything seems to actually work, you don’t get verification).

BlackBerry Browser - Twitter Full

This leaves us with the only 2 contenders in my mind, TwitterBerry and TinyTwitter.

TwitterBerry

TwitterBerry is REALLY intuitive to use, but lacks a few nice features found on TinyTwitter. For example, Twitter does a really good job of loading all of your friends photos – trivial I know, but if you’ve got the space allocated, provide it! When you select the tweet your’re looking at, you’ll see the full details of the tweet, but noticeably missing is a simple “reply” feature. I know this isn’t complicated since all that REALLY happens is the user’s ‘@’ name is appended into the beginning of the tweet try it it’s easy. Not to belabor the point, but my twitter name ‘giberti’ becomes ‘@giberti’ – that’s really it folks, just remember the 2-10 character name your replying to.

Something else frustrating for me is the overall lack of depth for my feed. Generally, when I load my friend feed, I receive about 1 hour of back information. But if the NY Times hit’s me with a blast of stories, it can knock everyone off. Leaving me little choice but to go hit up the mobile site or run back to my computer to check in.

TwitterBerry Feed

If you only follow a small community of people, TwitterBerry is a fantastic tool and I would highly recommend it.

TinyTwitter

TinyTwitter puts your feed first. As soon as you load the app, your immediately taken to your friends tweets. To post a tweet yourself, you need to select that option from the menu.

TinyTwitter Feed

TinyTwitter makes life easy for sending replies — and a whole lot more. The feed auto updates every so often (it’s a setting) and it keeps the back story, so on a feed heavy day you can keep track of your tweets even if more than an hour goes by without your being able to check on them. You can also “delete” your tweets – although this is a misnomer, it really only deletes them from your TinyTwitter feed – perhaps different terminology here might be useful – like hide or clear… perhaps that’s just me.

It brings up an interesting issue with the application though, there are SO many choices! The navigation needs some serious simplification. Some of the options are not helpful, and some can be combined.

TinyTwitter Huge Navigation List

Another irritating item is the way you visit URL’s embedded in posts. First it brings up a list of URL’s to visit (often there’s only 1) then you need to select it. If there’s only 1 URL, shouldn’t I just be taken there? I already indicated my consent to move away from the app when I selected the “Access Links” menu item.

TinyTwitter is definitely better than TwitterBerry tool if your following lots of people. If you don’t follow many folks and don’t require the additional functionality, I’d stick with TwitterBerry.

GTalk

I’ve been unable to download the GTalk client to my phone OTA and I’m on a mac – so no love there :(

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3 Responses to The State of Twitter on BlackBerry

  1. Doesn’t Ramble IM support it as a RIM alternative to Gtalk? Great info Erik, if you get your hands on an iPhone check out some of those sites and see what you think. All sites that are not m.twitter.com do not have ‘history’ feeds, so don’t hold that again them. @tlimongello

  2. Erik says:

    Thanks for the iPhone tip, I’ll certainly do that.

  3. Erik says:

    @tlimongello tweeted a similar comparison for iPhone folks this am, thanks Tom!

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