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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 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 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 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 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.

Written by singraham

June 17, 2009 at 5:45 am