Twitter for BlackBerry launches in private beta, we check it out

Joanna Stern
J. Stern|02.11.10

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Twitter for BlackBerry launches in private beta, we check it out
Well aware that 140-character-loving BlackBerry owners don't have the largest selection of Twitter applications, RIM's given up on leaving the task to third party developers and created its own. Released today in a private beta, the app aims to take advantage of the platform's push technology and better integrate Twitter into your message lists. Sure, we'd assume if anyone is going to be able to design a killer Twitter app for Berrys, it's got to be the Waterloo bunch -- but has it managed to create something that can replace paid apps like TweetGenius, or free, feature-packed ones like SocialScope or UberTwitter? We're told it won't be available in a public beta for another month or so, but we've got your first look after the break.%Gallery-85275%

From the second you select the Twitter for BlackBerry icon from the main menu, it's apparent that RIM is focused on basic functionality. The tabs along the top make it very easy to view your friends timeline, mentions, direct messages and even popular topics, and including a picture in your tweet is as simple as selecting the camera icon (you can also view tweeted pictures in the app). It's all pretty basic, and besides the bubble that slides up from the bottom when you respond to a message there's really not much eye candy here. Our only real complaint about the layout is that you can't easily adjust the font size in order to fit more updates on the screen.

We can live with the simple layout, but not with the lagging performance. We tested the application on both a Verizon Curve 8530 and a Tour 9630 and found the entire solution to be incredibly sluggish. It took more than six seconds to open our direct messages and another four to see if we had any new mentions. That's not going to cut if for us -- and though we can forgive the slowness for now considering its early beta status, RIM has sure got its work cut out for them before they bring this thing public. Not to mention it also plans to add multiple account support, lists and geo-tagging capabilities.

So, is this enough to pull us away from the TweetGeniuses and SocialScopes of the world? Don't get us wrong -- we applaud RIM's efforts to officially enter into the dangerous world of 140-character social networking -- but when it comes to a integrating a service that can dominate your life with a device that's intended to simplify it, efficiency isn't just important, it's vital. Twitter for BlackBerry simply isn't there yet; that's not to say that we won't see this app get better and better over time, but for now, we're sticking with our old standbys until Waterloo learns how to step on the gas and get this thing running with a little more steam.
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