Twitter for Android: the best apps reviewed

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Twitter for Android: the best apps reviewed
You know what's awesome? Cookie dough ice cream. But when it comes to the smartphone market, the 18-month-old, steadily-growing Android platform is equally wondrous. Sure, Google may have a tiny bit of catching up to do when compared with Apple's market share, but at least Android users are already spoiled with a handful of good Twitter apps. Better yet, Twitter has now thrown in its official app to spice up the competition, so we thought it'd be interesting to put it head-to-head against the third-party clients. Read on to find out if we have a winner.

Let's start off with a quick introduction to each of the Twitter clients that we'll be comparing, but do bear with us while we give the newcomer a slightly longer rundown:

Twitter for Android

Knowing that the successful Tweetie 2 for iPhone is now under Twitter Inc.'s wing, we naturally had high hopes for Twitter's very own app for Android (2.1 and beyond, specifically). Sadly, it wasn't a good start -- every time the app launches, you're greeted by the menu (pictured above) instead of the timeline; alas, there's no option to pick the latter, but you can sort of solve this by launching from the widgets instead. We also find it slightly cumbersome to switch between the general feed, mentions and favorites timelines -- there are no permanent timeline tabs on the screen as offered by most other apps, so you'd have to tap on the top-left icon or go back to the menu for the other timelines.

Another complaint we have is the inconsistency of the retweet feature -- for some reason the retweet button's missing in the "By others" retweet timeline, mentions timeline, nearby tweets timeline or search results; the other apps have no such limitation. We're not exactly sure what the logic behind this is, but what's certain is that it's a nuisance and restricts our way of tweeting -- "retweet" was actually a format created by the Twitter community, after all. Hopefully we'll see a fix for this soon.

Leaving our retweet rant aside, there's one cool feature that we dig -- picture thumbnails in timelines. For now, only TwitPic and yfrog pictures can be previewed this way, but we won't be surprised if more supported sites are to come soon. Another nice and unique addition is the deep OS integration -- as pictured above, your contacts will be associated with their Twitter accounts by the power of green bot magic, plus you can have a glance at their latest tweets in your address book or messages app.


HootSuite's actually a cross-platform "professional Twitter client," covering the desktop, iPhone and Android spaces. The Android app -- released in early March -- is the only contestant in this shootout that lets you schedule tweets and track click stats on its "" links, although the latter is only available in the full version ($2.99). It took us some time to become familiar with managing various "streams" -- for some reason we had to manually add our own timelines to begin with, but otherwise this is no doubt the best Android client for professional social media users. That said, it's rather strange that HootSuite doesn't let you create or edit lists, nor does it support geotagging or even offer any widgets.%Gallery-92354%

Seesmic for Android -- released in November 2009 -- turned out to be the most popular choice in our quick Twitter survey, and we immediately fell in love with the intuitive interface. Compared to the official Twitter client, Seesmic packs more tools that makes life much easier, such as the permanent timeline tabs, font size picker, support for multiple accounts, and the plentiful options for media-upload services. Still, its inability to list out conversation threads does frustrate us from time to time.%Gallery-92382%

Swift touts itself as the most lightweight Twitter client for Android, as evidently shown in the feature charts later on. While we appreciate this app's efficiency, we feel that a lot of the crucial interface elements are missing, namely remembering the timeline position and replying to all mentions. Also, switching from one timeline to another can be a nuisance due to the lack of permanent tabs -- here you have to tap on the blue bar for the options. Don't expect an update any time soon, either -- turns out Swift's developer is also the guy behind HootSuite's Android app, and he's been under HootSuite's roof since mid-March.%Gallery-92384%

Touiteur came out around mid-February this year and it's been highly recommended by many. Not only does this app have the useful permanent tabs at the bottom, but you can also easily make a tweet by pulling down the composer from the top. Other cool features include color tagging and viewing other people's subscribed timelines (yes, one for the stalkers, perhaps). If you want multiple accounts and URL-shortening service, just dole out €1.99 ($2.53) for the premium version.%Gallery-92385%

TweetCaster's only been around since the end of January this year, but it packs the most extras out of the test group. Sure, it may be a bit weak with map integration, but it's hard to hate this app with cool features like free themes and shake to refresh. The only real complaint we have is that TweetCaster charges $4.99 for just removing the ad banner.%Gallery-92386%

Twicca is a fairly new client that's quickly gaining popularity, despite being in beta stage (we had version 0.7.8). As you can see, it features a dark, clean but also easy-to-use interface, while packing many handy tools such as inserting a custom geotag (as opposed to one forced by the GPS), color-tagging people, plus a good handful of settings to suit your needs.%Gallery-92389%

Last but not least, Twidroid was also one of the most popular Twitter clients in our survey. This old boy's been around since late October 2008, and users remain loyal probably due to its clean and intuitive interface. As you'll see later on, Twidroid's also the most fully featured client out there, with a bunch of locked extras -- including six themes -- just €3.39 ($4.32) away.%Gallery-92390%

Round one: Viewing

Twitter HootSuite Seesmic Swift Touiteur TweetCaster Twicca Twidroid
Load timeline at launch No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Remember timeline position No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
View geotagged tweets on map Yes No Yes No No No Yes Yes
View nearby tweets Yes No No No No Yes No Yes
View nearby tweets on map No No No No No No No No
View lists Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Enlarge profile pictures No No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes
View conversation threads No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Change font size No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Picture thumbnails in timelines Yes No No No No No No No
Twitter HootSuite Seesmic Swift Touiteur TweetCaster Twicca Twidroid

In the first round of this shootout, it's clear that Twidroid offers the best Twitter browsing experience, closely followed by Twicca and TweetCaster. Most of the rest fell behind with their lack of support for geotagged tweets -- to view on map or to scan for nearby tweets, leaving just the official Twitter app and Twidroid happily covering both features. On the contrary, Twitter's own client is one of the few apps that miss out on handy tools like font size picker, automatic timeline bookmarker, and conversation thread viewer.

Round two: Composing

Twitter HootSuite Seesmic Swift Touiteur TweetCaster Twicca Twidroid
Insert location in tweet Yes No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes
Old / new retweet options New Old Both Old Both Both Both Both
Reply to all mentions No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Look up user names while composing Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Upload photos / videos Photos Photos Both Both Photos Photos Both Both
Photo upload service options 2 1 4 4 2 2 1 5
Video upload service options No No 3 2 No No 1 Premium
URL-shortening service options 2 1 3 1 Premium 2 1 3
Twitter HootSuite Seesmic Swift Touiteur TweetCaster Twicca Twidroid

Again, Twidroid comes out as the clear winner in the composing category, with Twicca trailing slightly behind due to the missing options for media-upload and URL-shortening services. Seesmic could've easily won the champion title here had there not been that single red cross -- like HootSuite and Swift, it doesn't let you look up user names while composing. The official Twitter app looks about average in this round, mainly due to its inability to let us reply to all mentions with one click, plus the lack of video upload tool just didn't make sense for this newcomer.

Final round: Extras

Twitter HootSuite Seesmic Swift Touiteur TweetCaster Twicca Twidroid
Multiple accounts No Yes Yes No Premium Yes No Premium
Schedule tweets No Yes No No No No No No
Monitor link click stats No Premium No No No No No No
Create and edit lists Yes No Delete only No No Yes Yes Premium
Edit profile Yes No No No Picture Yes Yes Yes
Block / report Both Block Block No Block Both Both Block
Color tagging No No No No Yes No Yes No
Themes No No No No Premium (2) Yes (2) No Premium (6)
Widgets 2 No 1 1 Premium 2 1 Premium
Android share integration Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Background notification Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Twitter HootSuite Seesmic Swift Touiteur TweetCaster Twicca Twidroid

As you can see in this final round, most of the third-party apps here don't fare as well as the official Twitter app when it comes to list management, profile editing and widgets. On the other hand, Twitter's app could do with support for multiple accounts to catch up with this round's winner -- TweetCaster. Technically, Twidroid's equally as good as TweetCaster in this round, provided that you don't mind paying €3.39 ($4.32) for the pro version; otherwise you'd just have to bear with TweetCaster's ad banners, or pay $4.99 for the ad-free version -- it's nice to support the developers, you know? While we're here, it's also worth pointing out that HootSuite's the only client that offers tweet scheduling and link click metrics (premium), whereas Touiteur and Twicca are the only ones that let you color-tag tweets from selected people.


Twitter's first attempt with its own mobile app isn't a bad one -- it's certainly one of the prettiest choices in the market right now, but at the end of the day, for us Twidroid easily took the crown as the best Android Twitter app, with TweetCaster as the runner-up and Twicca in third place. That said, the official app is still the only candidate that offers deep integration within the OS (like the aforementioned contacts linking). If Twitter wants to play catch-up, all we ask for is for its app to remember timeline position, show conversation threads, allow replying to all mentions, and support video upload. Better still, Twitter should consider letting its users view nearby tweets on a map -- we can already do this on Tweetie 2 (soon to be the official iPhone Twitter app), so why not make this a first on Android as well? It'll be super useful for users to find out about regional events, regardless of radial distance. Until these ideas are implemented on the official app, third-party Android developers can safely stay in the Twitter game.
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