iPhone/iPod Touch Social and Photo Friendlies Sighted
It is amazing how many web based services are providing cloud terminal (aka iPhone/iPod Touch, iDevices hereafter) friendly clients…and if the service itself does not provide there are always eager programmers willing to hack up a client for the cloud terminal crowd. (Gotta register that one too: Cloud Terminal Crowd® aka CTC).
I have become a Twitterer of late, and suddenly my Facebook has bloomed with a whole bouquet of new friends (after languishing lonely for more than a year). Clearly I am addicted to Flickr (I have over 5000 images uploaded to date, over 350 contacts, and have had (I blush) 50 images in Explore). Recently I have started uploading full resolution, finished images to a SmugMug site, for times when I really want to show off my work, and eventual printing. I am on these sites several times a day, and had visited them all just to see what they looked like, on my cloud terminal.
Twitter, of course, has any number of iClients. A quick search on the App Store turns up Twitterrific (free and premium), Twitterfon, Twittelator (free and Pro), Twittervision, Twitfire, Tweetie, Tweetsville, LaTwit, Twitxr (photo uploader), etc. And then there is Pockettweets, a web based client that uses the Safari bowser (and, as such, is the only one that features sideways view and typing, and painless access to links within tweets).
I have not tried all these (especially not the paid versions), but using a couple of them has given me a pretty good idea of what I want in a Twitter client: 1) a good home page view, similar to the web based view. 2) easy access to the post, and especially the reply function. 3) ability open links from within tweets, either in a built in browser or seamlessly in Safari. 4) auto update when you tweet, 5) ideally a sideways view and sideways keyboard. 6) and, of course, a smooth, fast, and responsive interface.
Of those that I have tested so far, TwitterFon is by far the fastest. Home loads almost instantly. Switching to tweet view is instantaneous. Etc. Replying is easy. Updates are fast and it auto updates after you tweet. It is free. It was, for a while there, my client of choice. It took me a while to discover how to open the links in tweets (or this is a recently added feature), but now that I know how access the in-line browser, it is still a very strong contender. Getting to the urls requires a fairly unintutive sequence of touches…a case, I think, of carrying the drill down metaphore, common to most Twitter clients, one or two steps too far. And doing a direct message is unnecessairly complicated. Finally, the Tweet field does not clear itself if you back out of a tweet or message.
All in all, I continue to search for the perfect client.
MacApper has a short review of 4 clients, two of which are not in my list above, because I had never heard of them (just goes to show). Battle of the Twitter Clients.
John Gruber has another review, of a different set of clients at The Unsatisfactory State of Twitter Clients, etc. I certainly appreciate his sentiment.
Google will turn up more recent reviews, and googling individual apps, especially the more recent paid ones like Tweetsville, will give you a diverse range of opinions (certainly enough to thoroughly confuse you).
So I am just going to tell you what I like.
Twitteriffic has all the features listed above except auto update on tweets and a sideways view (though it is very fast on updates when you hit the update button). It looks really good on your iDevice, and is free. You do have to put up with an ad interspersed with your friends’ tweets once in while, but you can, if that bothers you, invest in the paid version (of course, at $9.99 it is rather steep!).
Close runners up are Pockettweets. The Safari interface is excellent, but it is certainly among the slower clients. It has the distinct advantage of already being in the browser, so opening tweeted links is a snap. Twittelator is also very usable, but the integrated browser is both slower and somehow more awkward than Twitterrific’s. And, as mentioned before, TwitterFon, now that I know how to use it, may still be the best of the free clients.
Your mileage may vary.
For Facebook, there does not seem to be much choice, or much debate. The official Facebook client for iDevices is excellent and free, so why look further? I have not discovered anything I want to do on Facebook that it does not do, and do well.
As far as Flickr goes, again the official web based mobile client is very well done. Just point your mobile Safari at m.flickr.com, log into your account, and there you go. Quite nice and quite usable. And free. Simply hit the + at the bottom of the page and choose Add icon to desktop, and you will have instant iDevice access to your account.
Similarly, SmugMug CEO and self-styled chief geek, Don MacAskill, has developed an iDevice interface for SmugMug accounts. Point mobile Safari at youraccountname.smugmug.com/iphone and enjoy. Quite good. Attractive. Functional. The navigation structure is not as intuitive as I would like, but it is pretty linear and it gets you where you need to go. Put an icon on your iDevice desktop.
So, if you use social services for photo sharing sites, and own a Cloud Terminal, you have no excuse for not keeping up now.
Another really nice feature of both Flickr and SmugMug (or maybe it is built into Safari), is that you can easily download your favorite photos to your iDevice directly from the web: no need to sync in iTunes. I discovered this trick almost by accident after giving up on being able to get images off the sites and into the Photos folder on my iPod Touch. If you put your finger on the image you want, and hold it there, a SAVE dialog appears. Very simple.
(The screen shots in this post, by the way, were taken using the screen shot utility built into OS 2.2 on the iPod Touch. Hold down the home button and click the Sleep button and the screen shot is saved to your “saved photos” folder. From there, you can email to yourself for editing on another computer…your netbook, of course.)