Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Twitter: Different Clients for Different Needs

How do you access Twitter?  From a web browser?  An application running on your computer?  Text messages on your mobile phone?  Applications on your mobile phone?  Through a third-party website?

As Twitter has grown, so has the Twitter app industry.  To begin with, you could only use Twitter on their website.  Now there are literally thousands and thousands of ways to use Twitter.  Twitdom holds a directory of over 2000 Twitter applications, and this doesn't include websites that post, display, or interface with Twitter, or applications not registered with the site.

Today I read the following article in the Ars Technica blog on my Kindle.  It raises some concerns.
Twitter permission change hurts third-party mobile apps
While the authentication issue is a concern for developers and may impact end-users, the wider concern of Twitter wanting to limit third party applications has a direct effect on me and many Twitter users.

Web sites won't have an issue with the new authentication change, as OAuth is built for that.  And it doesn't look like it's websites that Twitter is concerned with.  It's actual clients.

On the desktop, I have tried many Twitter clients, some web-based, some traditional applications.  Of these, Seesmic Desktop is the one I've found most useful.  The abilities to use it with other services besides Twitter is very nice, and the support for multiple accounts is the main draw for me.  But most of the time, I use the normal Twitter website when I'm on the computer.  With Chrome plug-ins to allow URL shortening right on the Twitter website, and using a separate website like twitpic for pictures that has the ability to post to Twitter, the website works pretty good.  But other people have other needs.

On a mobile phone, the Twitter website isn't as useful.  Twitter's preference seems to be for people to use their application or to use text messages.  If you use a supported phone, the application is an option, but there's phones that only support third party applications.  If support for third party apps is removed, this will only leave text messages.  Some people love doing Twitter that way, while others don't.

I've used a bunch of different Twitter applications on my Blackberry.  Each have their pros and their cons.  I settled for two:  Seesmic for Blackberry and Twitter for Blackberry (Twitter's own client).  The main reason I don't use Twitter's client solely is that it only supports one account at a time and is difficult to switch accounts. In Seesmic, I can add as many accounts as I want and it's simple to switch which one is active.  I can also post to multiple accounts at once if I want to, which is nice, but not necessary.  Many people have both personal Twitter accounts and business accounts.  If Twitter's client supported mulitple accounts, I would probably use it exclusively, since there seems to be less connection issues with it.  The other advantage over Seesmic with Twitter's client is when it comes to lists.  While Seesmic finally allows you to add people to lists, it still doesn't allow you to manage your lists, to create or delete them.  This is the main think I use Twitter's client for.

As I said, different people have different needs.  It is impossible for one client or application to do everything that everyone wants or needs, and to do it the way each person wants.  While Twitter has come a long way with their clients, third party applications are necessary to meet this wide range of wants and needs.  Part of Twitter's current popularity is all the things you can do with it because of this wide range of applications.  If Twitter limits desktops and mobile devices to only their client, many users will no longer be able to do what they use Twitter for.  Only time will tell it Twitter has reached a critical mass where they can eliminate people's ability to do things they don't support and still maintain the momentum they currently have.

Bethany Kennedy
IT Professional

No comments:

Post a Comment