Official Blackberry Twitter App – Pre-release preview

I’ve spent the weekend testing a pre-release Beta version of Blackberry’s official Twitter application which is due to launch publically in the next month or so. First impressions are...

I’ve spent the weekend testing a pre-release Beta version of Blackberry’s official Twitter application which is due to launch publically in the next month or so.

First impressions are excellent, this is a well integrated application which doesn’t show delays in loading, and has some very neat pop up integration within your messages list.

I’ve taken far too many screen shots to make this easy to explain, however hopefully they will give you some clear idea of what the application can, and importantly cannot do.

For me, this application has been a long time coming.  I started – like most Blackberry users – using Twitterberry.  However it’s a poor excuse for an application in this day and age.

I then moved to Yatca, which, for mine, is still the best and most integrated application you will find for Blackberry – however for most users it’s not an ‘Application’ as they know it, because it has very little UI – instead it has complete message list integration and to get the most from it you need to setup some filters and saved searches.

In terms of standard ‘looking’ applications I think TweetGenius from the Team at Boy Genius Report was the best UI, and worked really well – it also cost $ to buy.

I was fortunate enough to become part of the SocialScope Alpha testing program, and have been extremely satisfied with SocialScope all along.  Mainly because it gave me basic notifications, was very fast to load and use – PLUS it has good facebook inclusions (and I cannot use the Facebook App due to the IT Policy on my Blackberry).

So, here I am today with the official Blackberry Twitter application which has been out in the wild for a little while now, and for that reason has become much anticipated.

Let me make this simple.

What I like about it:

  • It loads fast, very fast. (UPDATE: The Application home loads fast, as do pop ups, but when opening a message (to click a link for example, its SLOW – I think because its loading more than JUST the message, its trying to tell me all about the user who posted it)
  • Will provide updates within your messages list (See dislikes for more info!)
  • I quite like the UI layout, and the amount of info shown on each user.
  • The Popular Topics – Current + Recent is well displayed, with recent showing as a ‘tag cloud’
  • In your messages folder you can MENU click and go TWITTER to get a simple popup to compose your message in
  • TwitPic’ing photos – you can do that from any photo menu, and the actual sending of the photo occurs pretty much in the background.
  • UPDATE: Battery life is EXCELLENT post install – this has been an issue with many twitter apps.  This is due to the push technology that RIM are able to implement to your handset

What I dislike:

  • I like seeing the twitter updates in my messages menu.  But the ‘you have new tweets’ is useless, of course I have new tweets; I am following over 100 people!
  • If I delete a Direct Message from my messages list – it gets deleted FROM TWITTER!  I don’t want it permanently deleted, I just want it ‘filed’ and removed from my messages list!
  • I get an email alerting me to a Direct Message before I get the direct message itself – this goes against the Blackberry Push philosophy as I see it.
  • UPDATE: I’m NOT getting PUSH Direct alerts – It’s just not happening in my message folder, unless I actually go into the Direct Messages icon within the app.  They appear in Message list if I have all alerts enabled – I just don’t want this!

What it needs to be a ‘Killer App’:

  • I need to see mentions – any @replies or mentions of me – I use twitter like a communication tool, make it an option to ‘Show Mentions in message list’ – that way directly from my inbox I can reply to people, thank people for mentions etc.
  • I need to see Direct Messages, AS they happen – so, like with Facebook integration, strip my incoming mail – convert such messages to direct messages themselves so they appear in my message list and invoke the application for all interaction with them. In options this should be ‘Integrate Direct Messages into Messages list’ or similar.
  • The ability to add a filter for the main message list – filter by topic or keyword then.

So, do I recommend you download this app? For sure, it’s going to blow Ubertwitter, Twitterberry and frankly the current version of TweetGenius right out of the water.  However, they can all catch up!

UPDATE: Register your interest in the app at http://na.blackberry.com/eng/devices/features/social/twitter.jsp – I suspect it will be available by Mid March.

Below are a large number of screenshots from my current trial of the Official Blackberry Twitter App – let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Your Twitter Icon when shown on your home screen

Main Tweet list showing your ‘home’ page – recent tweets from people you follow

Loading your @mentions

Showing your @mentions

Your Profile Page

Bottom half of your profile page

Direct Messages shown within the Twitter App

Search Twitter Users

Saved Searches and keyword search

Popular Topics – Current (loading)

Popular Topics – Current

Popular Topics – Recent – Tag Cloud

Menu within Blackberry Twitter App

Options Screen (top half)

Options Screen (bottom half)

Popup within App – Save Changes

Direct Messags shown within your Messages List

Notification of ‘new tweets’ – within your messages list

Mail Notification icon shown, having received email alert regarding a new direct messages.

Email notification of Direct Message – This is where the integration should show the message itself linked to the App

A Direct Message shown within the Message List

A Direct Message shown in a pop-up over your message list – instant reply facility available (v cool)

Reply, and SEND

Sent message shows in your message list also.

Menu options when Sending a Direct Message via Pop Up Windows

Viewing a direct message from your message window.

Delete Option for Direct Message

Compose menu – as you know it, except see the bottom

New TWITTER option added.

When choosing TWITTER, you then choose DIRECT or TWEET

Direct Tweet Chosen

Choosing Tweet:

Gives you a simple way to jump in and update your ‘status’

Uploading a Photo, image is re-sized and readied to upload

Add Status to go along with it.

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Trev produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He hosts a nightly radio show on Talking Lifestyle, 8pm Monday to Friday in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
One Comment
  • David McCormack
    15 February 2010 at 1:16 pm
    Leave a Reply

    For me, the biggest disappointment about this app is that push delivery has only been implemented for direct messages. The Twitter Streaming API is now in production. It enables creation of services that can detect new tweets and replies almost as soon as they are posted. Mating this with the unsurpassed push delivery capabilities of the BlackBerry platform offers what some would almost see as a Holy Grail. For the developers of free 3rd party Twitter apps, unfortunately, this Holy Grail is not realisable. They lack the necessary cloud resources (CPU and bandwidth) to reliably consume the Twitter Streaming API in a way that is scalable. For RIM however there is no such excuse which is why the lack of push delivery is so disappointing.

    I think the UI has a great style to it but I also think the toolbar is a bit 'busy'. A long-standing UI design principle is that when screen real estate is scarce, toolbar buttons should only be used for frequently used functions. Just how often does a user actually need to view their own profile? Fair enough, in this app you have to go through your profile page to get to your favourites. But this being the case it might make more sense to have a 'View Favourites' button on the toolbar. You could also question the need for 'Find People', 'Search' and 'Popular Topics' toolbar buttons. Although I might occasionally use functions such as these on my desktop Twitter app, I almost never use them on my BlackBerry. These functions should certainly be available but the menu is the place for them rather than the toolbar.

    It's interesting to see you say “It loads fast, very fast” because my experience (shared by most other beta users) is that it is slow. They don't seem to have implemented a cache so every time the app is launched it loads the 20 most recent tweets. Not only is this slow, it also chews up battery and eats into your monthly data quota! As somebody who has developed a Twitter app for BlackBerry, I know that cache management is arguably the most difficult thing to get right. The fact that this hasn't yet been done (despite this app being anything up to six months in the making) makes me seriously question the quality and/or quantity of the resources RIM have allocated to this effort.

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