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Archive for the ‘Seesmic Desktop’ Category

The new seesmic desktop vs. the new TweetDeck

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Hot topic. Yesterday saw the release of the new and improved TweetDeck and the matching iPhone TweetDeck, hard on the heals of the first non-preview version of seesmic desktop. Seesmic has been slowly overtaking TweetDeck in the features race, if  not in actual user base, and clearly TweetDeck is fighting back hard.

Let me say right up front that in my mind seesmic has been the app to catch for quite a few releases. I never warmed to TweetDeck, and therefore I am not addicted to its UI or feature set. I don’t have an investment in TweetDeck groups, etc. On the other hand, seesmic has been my desktop twitter (and Facebook) client for several generations now, and I, maybe, am biased through habituation to its UI and feature set.

So, lets just say that TweetDeck would have to try really hard to win me over. Did they try hard enough in this last release?

The primary reason I invested my time in seesmic in the first place was the ability to follow and manage multiple twitter accounts. TweetDeck, until this release, could not do that…so it was, for me, a non-starter. With the new version, TweetDeck not only adds multiple Twitter accounts, but establishes an master TweetDeck account (one account to rule them all) which allow you to log in to all your accounts with a single log-in, and, allows TweetDeck to sync your account info (groups, columns, read/unread etc.) across multiple computers and devices.

Of course, along the way seesmic began to add Facebook features. First the ability to post updates to your FB account, view your stream and like updates, and then, wonder of wonders, full integration, with the ability to comment on friends’ updates. With full FB integration, seesmic desktop became the one app I always have open on my desktop.

I even began to use the UserLists (groups) features and the saved Twitter searches. All very easy and very useful. To add a user to a list/group, just click on the gear icon in the atvar, choose add to Userlist, and pick your list from a dialog.

Seesmic also, to my mind, has the most natural way of managing @ (mentions), DMs, your posts, and favorites. Little icons across the bottom of the Twitter columns are one click fast in pulling up the selected items for your view. No new columns to deal with. When done, just click the Home icon to return to the normal view of your friends’ tweets.

It should be noted that you can have all tweets, from all accounts, as well as your Facebook updates, appear in the same column if you want, and use the navigation panel provided to navigate to @, DM, Favs, etc.

Then too, seesmic makes finding individual users profiles dead simple. You can click any @user and their profile and recent tweets appear in the column, or you can type in a user search field and find anyone. So easy.

This last release (o.3rc) fills in a few of the remaining gaps. You can now simultaniously post to any combination of your open Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can set the app to intelligently reply only to the account where you hit the reply icon (very slick).  And, for UI fanatics, the Update bar now sits narrow and restrained at the top until you click it…then it expands to a two line text entry box.

Of course, seesmic has full integration with url shorteners, including (new this release) the ability to use your own bit.ly account for statistical purposes. Seesmic can post pics to any one of  5 different services, using either personal (generally Twitter) accounts or the default account.

So what does seesmic not do? There is still no way to view a list of your friends (a la Tweetie or Twitterfon or Twitter.com for that matter). There is no conversation view for @ or DMs, so to find out what tweet some cryptic Reply is referring to, you are booted out to the Twitter.com site, where you see the single referenced tweet and nothing else. We are spoiled by the iPhone clients who manage @ and DM conversations much more elegantly.

And no Trends, though the very effective Twitter search makes up for it somewhat.

Both seesmic and TweetDeck, of course, suffer from what is, in my opinion, the major frustration of AIR apps…flaky browser integration (at least with Chrome…I have not tested other browsers). When you click a link in a tweet or update, it really looks like the app has died while it is sending the url to the browser and the browser is dealing with it. And it takes an unacceptably (imho)  long time to deal.  (seesmic, at least, is developing a browser-based version which may eliminate this issue.)

The major advantage, to my mind, for TweetDeck at the moment is the iPhone version and the ability to sync between iPhone and desktop…and between any number of desktops. That is cool!

However, on first impressions, I just can not like TweetDeck desktop a whole lot. I don’t like separate columns for @ (mentions), DMs, and Favs (even if you can hide them). I do not like the Facebook integration, which lacks the ability to post or view comments (a killer for me).

So, okay, with use I might come to accept the way TweetDeck does its business. In fact, I am certain that I would, and especially if I began using some of its deeper features. What you can do with individual tweets, for instance, is impressive. And the though neither seesmic or TweetDeck have trends in the usual sense of Twitter.com or the iPhone clients, TweetDeck has some unique tools: TweetDeck recommends, StockTwits, and TwitScoop. I will admit I have not experimented with them much at all. And, of course, you might actually prefer the TweetDeck way out of the gate…and you are certain to favor it over seesmic if TweetDeck is already your client of choice.

So, what about the iPhone TweetDeck.

Way cool!

The interface is elegant (with some obvious, not to say glaring, lapses), fully functional, and does a very good job of translating the desktop TweetDesk experience to the smaller screen of the iPhone. Columns appear first as smaller windows (very like pages in the Safari browser multi page view) which you can flick through (or even rearrange using the same metaphor used for rearranging apps on the iPhone screen), and which open to full screen with a tap. Once open you can flick sideways to move between columns. Here we have one of those glaring UI things. There is a huge arrow at the bottom of the column that you can tap to move to the next column if you don’t want to flick…two arrows if you are in a center column…which is, imho, a total waste of space. A little popup telling how to navigate columns on the first use  (or until you turn it off) would eliminate the need for the ugly (and huge!) arrows.

Major fail! No Facebook in the iPhone app. Not even the limited integration of the desktop version. Massive fail! Worse. You can’t even post to Facebook from the iPhone app. Can you hear the sorrow in my voice as I report this inexplicable fail?

Also, I managed to crash the iPhone TweetDeck already, while viewing a linked web page in the in-line browser.

So, no, as far as I am concerned, TweetDeck did not try hard enough to overcome the lead seesmic desktop has in features and UI on the desktop (unless you really need TwitScoop, etc.). Facebook integration alone, even if there were no other differences, would decide it for me. And even though the TweetDeck iPhone app is one of the most inventive uses of the OS I have yet seen, it offers no compelling reason to switch from the much more fully featured Tweetie or Twitterfon Pro.

I am waiting, with bated breath, as they say, for seesmic’s iPhone app. I only hope they manage to shoehorn Facebook in there as they have on the desktop, and that they preserve the one column multi function model made popular by Tweetie and Twitterfon (and seesmic desktop for that matter). That would make it a killer social client for the iPhone, and make seesmic the clear choice for both desktop and mobile applications.

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Written by singraham

June 17, 2009 at 5:45 am

Managing Social Aggravation on the iPhone and Desktop

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Seesmic Desktop Preview, feedalizer, zensify, Darkslide, Mobile Foto (with Tweetie and TwitterFon thrown in the mix) and a brief encounter with PeopleBrowser.

Seesmic Desktop Preview: Twitter accounts and Facebook in one app.

Seesmic Desktop Preview: Twitter accounts and Facebook in one app.

In this day of multiple social networks and multiple social network personalities, the task of keeping up with your Facepeeps, Tweeps, and Flickr buds can be daunting,  even for the least social.

And then too, many of us are multiple device folks: desktop, laptop, netbook, internet connected smartphone, etc., etc. so we are often tracking our networks from two or three directions at once.

Of course there are several good desktop and iPhone clients for Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr…in various combinations.

My favorite for  Twitter and Facebook is Seesmic Desktop Preview, which handles multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, updates, replies/comments, friend/news feeds, follow and unfollow on Twitter, and most of the essential features of both sites. It is still a work in progress (it lacks the ability to view your own friend/follow list for instance), but it is excellent already and only stands to get better as it develops.

Recently I discovered zensify on the iPhone. zensify is a social network aggregater  that puts my Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr feeds in the same list on the same app, and allows me to update, reply, comment, etc. on each of them, with more or less ease.

Twitter interaction is pretty good, on a basic level, mimicking closely the functionality of  other iPhone Twitter apps like Tweetie and TwitterFon. You can choose to Reply or Direct Message. You can post images.

zensify: one stop social aggreation for the iPhone

zensify: one stop social aggreation for the iPhone

Flickr interaction is very good also. zensify displays single or multiple new image posts from your contacts list, and at it also captures images with new comments. In cases where there are multiple images opening the viewer provides a slide show effect where you can flip through the offerings. To comment you have to tap the image (lower right corner seems to work best) and the Flickr .m site opens with the image displayed. Commenting is quick and easy and relatively fast.

Facebook interaction is the weakest so far (though there are hints they are not done with this section).  It collects your friend’s status updates just fine, and you can view them the viewer, and like them, but to make a comment (so far) you have to open the friend’s profile in the browser. Awkward.

One good feature is that you can make simultaneous posts to Twitter and Facebook.

Of course, there is a whole layer of functionality provided by dedicated clients for these networks that is missing so far in zensify. You can not view followers/friends, follow or friend, unfollow or block, view friend’s/follower’s timelines, view follower’s followers, see the update that was replied to, etc. etc.

zensify takes a while to aggregate all that information too, and clearly strains the limits of what current iPhone hardware is capable of.

Therefore, wonderful as it is being able to interact with all my important social networks in a single app, zensify will not be replacing Tweetie or TwitterFon for Twitter, or the Facebook app for Facebook until it reaches a more complete level of development (and maybe not until I upgrade to a new iPhone).

But that leaves me without an easy means of keeping up with my flickr account. I can easily fall 400 images behind on my contact’s submissions if I am away from the netbook for more than a few hours!

Darkslide: list view, Mobile Foto: grid view of contact's recent images

Darkslide: list view, Mobile Foto: grid view of contact's recent images

I have had the free, ad supported, version of Darkslide on my iPhone for some time, but never gotten into the habit of using it. After zensify I gave it another try and liked it so well, I ended up buying the paid version.

Darkslide implements the full feature set of Flickr, including image uploads, groups, sets, etc. etc. but for me the best part is that it  gives you quick easy access to your contacts’ recent posts, with an excellent viewer and easy commenting and is just the thing for keeping up with the image flow on the iPhone.

Unfortunately Darkside has two annoying habits. 1) when you reopen it, it stalls and refuses to reload whatever you were viewing last until you manually initiate a reload by tapping, for instance, My Photos if you are in Contacts, and then retapping Contacts. Annoying! Then too, Darkside is evidently working without a parachute (no local cache) so it has to reload everything every time you work with it. That can take a while if you have a lot of contacts, and forever if you have a lot of images yourself. Annoying. (Interestingly there is a Cache size readout in Settings, but it is always blank.) [Note: v 1.6.1 (current in the app store) is apparently broken in several ways, prone to crashing, and to hanging up internally when switching functions. The company is aware of the problem and working on a fix.]

Which lead me to search for alternatives. Mobile Fotos presents itself as a full featured Flickr client, and it is just that. Since it does cache locally, it is much faster than Darkslide, and it auto reloads on launch. I do not like the way it displays Contacts’ images quite as well as Darkslide, which groups multiple images from a single contact together under the contacts name in a list view, and it has one glaring omission (shocking!): there is no Activity function to look at activity on your own images.

Which lead me back to Flickr’s own m.flickr.com site, which is, afterall, very good. Not as fast as Mobile Foto, but in many ways the layout, look and feel, is just about as elegant as Darkslide (except no dark background view of images!!!, and the new postings are not grouped by contact), and it actually works better than the standard web version in that it returns to the actual page of contacts you were commenting on when you complete a comment…rather than poping all the way back to the first page of contacts’ images. For now, it might just be the easiest, fastest, way to keep up with contacts’ new postings.

zensify did make me wonder about developments in similar functionality for the desktop. FriendFeed I find somewhat limited from the interactive aspects, and I don’t enjoy being tied to my browser, but the availability of Adobe AIR has spawned quite a few social aggregation desktop apps beyond Seesmic Desktop.

You may have seen postings around the net for PeopleBrowser. People browser looks to be the ultimate be all and end all for social networking: once it is finished. Though a beta was announced this week, all I can find is the most recent alpha, which shows the potential. Unfortunately it appears unnecessairly complex and seems to produce inconsistent results at best. I will be tracking development on this one but it does not seem ready for prime time yet.

feedalizr: one stop desktop social aggregater

feedalizr: desktop social aggregation

feedalizr is an older, more mature app that looks like it might have been the inspiration for zensify.

Functionally they are much the same. You set up your accounts and then feedalizr aggregates them into one list. Filters are provided so you can see just what you want in the primary list, and you can open all kinds of things (other accounts, individual tweeps or Facepeeps, groups, searchs, etc.) in tabs beside the primary list. So far, I have not found a way to show new images of those who are not classifed as Flickr friends…all my contacts are missing.

Interaction with the various networks, updates, image posts, comments, replies, etc.  is pretty easy and works well, with pop down posting boxes, drag and drop for images for Twitter and Facebook, and image titling, tagging and description fields for Flickr uploads (up to 10 images at a time).

As with zensify, feedalizr appears to lack the second layer of functionality for Twitter and Facebook: friend/follow, unfollow, etc. (You can do these things but it kicks you out to the main Twitter site or Facebook to do them.) It does have a groups feature which is quick and easy (or was, until it mysteriously stopped working for me).

So, just as on the iPhone, the all in one solution on the desktop does not seem to be quite there. Seesmic Desktop still comes closest, but lacks the Flickr feed.

And I have yet to find an equivalent for Darkslide or Mobile Foto on the desktop. There is an Adobe AIR program called DestroyFlickr which attempts to be the equivalent for the desktop, but it will not run well on my netbook’s 1024×600 screen (AIR seems to still have trouble with windows).

The upstart of all this is…with the really strong social networking apps on the iPhone, it is getting to be more fun, and faster, to track my networks on the phone than it is on the netbook. This does not, somehow, seem right, but there it is!