A year ago I wrote a blog post comparing Twhirl to TweetDeck. So far, it was a very successful blog post with lots of visits and direct traffic from search engines. It could be due to the timing, or maybe comparison posts are very search engine friendly, or that it was just useful, helping people to decide which twitter desktop client works for them.
Since a year is a long time on the web I decide to revisit my findings and to check what has changed during this period. Based on this Mashable blog post from early February 2009 TweetDeck is by all mean the winner. A similar post from Techcrunch supports these findings too. The most recent TwitStat report from October 5th, 2009, shows TweetDeck with 12.82% of users and twhirl with 0.07% of the users. The next serious contender (and one of the selected top 5 based on a recent survey done by lifehacker) from Seesmic (twhirl was bought by seesmic in April 2008) is the new Seesmic client with 3.8% market share.
Up until recently I was one of the 0.07% that were still using Twhirl. I do also use TweetDeck. I used Twhirl at work because of its tiny condensed screen. Twhirl was really good at utilizing window real-estate and it allowed me to use twitter more discreetly in the office. TweetDeck on the other hand let you see more of twitter and other life stream social networks in a single glance when it is maximized. I used it more in the evenings, at home.
I recently replaced twhirl with the new Seesmic client. So now it is time to compare TweetDeck vs. Seesmic Desktop. In this post I will mainly describe the differences, feature-wise, between the TweetDeck and Seesmic applications. I will also cover what has changed since my last examination. You can assume the rest to be the same.
Features that are in TweetDeck and not in Seesmic:
- Trending topics and Tag Cloud – via TwitScoop, TweetDeck shows what is going on right now on the web. This is a killer feature and having this view locally on the desktop ensure that you won’t miss a beat. This feature was already there when I first reviewed TweetDeck, yet it is still a big differentiator.
- Integration with 12 seconds – not new and not a deal breaker for me
- Unique timelines views – there are many twitter time-line types views like: all friend (home), Mentions(@replies), Direct messages (Private), Favorites, Facebook, and Search results. Both applications shows all these view types. TweetDeck offers few more unique time-line views:
- * StockTwits view for people sharing trading information. It is not a bad idea to add more niche community timeline views. Hint: look at the #litchat hashtag.
- * TweetDeck recommend which is a group of people on twitter that TweetDeck thinks highly of. This could be a useful service for people who just joined twitter and can learn what to do and what not on twitter.
- * Groups – in this great feature TweetDeck provides a very efficient way to construct new timelines following groups of people. I have my “experts” groups for all sort of subjects. Metaphorically, a group provides you with a new lens looking into the twitter update stream. A group is a filter. Harnessing good group members ensure great stream of information. It is a great way to avoid spam.
- *MySpace – I don’t have MySpace account but I guess that this is very helpful to have just single desktop client that could brings friends feeds from any desired social network. I noticed that I do more with Facebook just because I have it locally via my twitter desktop client.
- Mark all as Seen, Clear seen tweets and Show what is popular in this column – all great and useful features that are helping to manage the time-line. I don’t understand yet why it is not available on the TweetDeck recommend column ??.
- TweetDeck multiple accounts. This, for me, was the most significant reason for sticking with twhirl. Now, actually, I think that TweetDeck is doing better job handling multiple accounts than Seesmic. Switching from account to account in the Compose Update frame takes only one click or two. In Seesmic it requires opening a dropdown and then another click or two.To be fair, it was easier to find how to add new accounts on Seesmic than on TweetDeck. But once an additional account was added in TweetDeck it is easier to know what are you doing for which account. For every new time-line added you’ll see an option to select the associated account. I liked that.
- Window management:TweetDeck minimize more horizontally – I think that it is more important than vertically.
- Translate – From an initial examination it looks like it really works and I could understand some of the tweets that I see in foreign language (Hebrew was on reverse – is this my computer?). I did not test it enough though.
- Text Shrinking – Both serviced offer this option. This feature takes a tweet and replace some of the words with abbreviated version or numbers. I tested only couple of tweets comparing the two and I found the results to be very similar.
- Reply to all – this is a cool feature that can save you some time communicating with your clique. In a single click TweetDeck copies all the referenced twitter user names from the selected tweet to the message edit box. Seesmic has this feature too. I mentioned it here because it was added to both since my previous review.
- Show preview information for short urls. This is useful in a couple of ways. It is nice to see where a link is taking us before actually going there. It is also a good way to validate that the link that I just posted is actually working.
- Show # of followers in tweets – if you care about size!
Features that are in Seesmic and not in TweetDeck
- Navigation – here I think that Seesmic did a great innovative job. The left page serves as a hypertext-ed index, linking to each one of the columns. Since there could be so many columns added, each for any time-line, it is great having the left pane for easy and quick navigation to the desired column. It is easier/quicker to click than to scroll to the right place. On the other hand Seesmic did not make it intuitive to find the General configuration page – it requires clicking the plus sign next to the Accounts label. Some of these setting are not Account specific (at least not at the time I was writing this blog post).
- Multiple accounts – I miss the single window per account. It is not always clear for which account the main five timelines will be added when I clicked on them (Home, Replies, Private, Sent, Favorites).
- FriendFeed client – gone, I don’t miss this one
- Services – Seesmic supports a list of services yet beside bit.ly I don’t use any of the other so I can’t tell much about this feature. It was easier to set the bit.ly account on TweetDeck, they did a good work pointing me to where my bit.ly API key was.
- Spellchecker (English only) – as you can learn from reading this blog post, I was not born in an English speaking language country, so for me this is a life saver.
- Friends/followers view – I need this view back! I used it to learn about my new followers. It use to be available in twhirl. Dear Seesmic, what happen to this view? In this view I could see the list of all my friends and followers, together with their profile details.
- Color coded notifications – gone, I missed those too.
- Window management– Seesmic allow multiple window mode: single column mode (good when you work from the office), One fix view and many detached column, or all column detached. Also Seesmic minimize more vertically. I prefer it to be thinner. I expected that after shrinking the right pane I would be able to minimize it more horizontally but it didn’t. One more thing, could it be possible to add another window mode? How about single window for account:) ? Hint: just launch twhirl.
- Archive button vs. Sent time-line view – I don’t know if there is a difference. Anyway it is convenient to have this right at the home view.
- Lists – It seems like an incomplete feature. There is no way to add more than one person to the list. Was this the intent? I did like the way it was organize though, as a tree.
Performance – both applications perform well retrieving information and being responsive to user action. TweetDeck crashed once on my laptop.
Each of this application is packed with features and I’m sure that I missed some from this review. I hope that I did cover the notable differentiators.
What else could be added to these desktop clients? They are already more than twitter client. If the objective is to bring the real-time web down to the desktop I can see few additional real-time web services out there.
BackType Alerts – BackType crawl looking for comments on lots of blog posts. It is possible to create an alert searching for a word or phrase in blog comments. This is another listening tool that can lead us to where the action is.
LazyFeed – Real-time stream of new content feed from web-sites, blogs and twitter, filtered by tag (subject). I love this new service and i use it a lot. This is taken from LazyFeed web-site:
Never miss out.
Save all kinds of topics and don’t worry about missing out on anything. The most recently updated topics will rise to the top, keeping you always updated.
Conclusion: both applications are doing great job helping us to constantly be connected and to find out: what is going on now, what’s hot, and what’s next. It is getting harder and harder to find a key differentiating feature that can help us to deice which way to go. It is a matter of preferences and also a matter of what is that you are doing on the web. I personally plan to give Seesmic a chance. I think that the Seesmic team is doing a great job organizing the different time-lines and hopefully soon I will see back some the features that I liked so much on Twhirl.
What are your thoughts? Do you see a killer feature that can help Seesmic to acquire more market share? Are there any other real-time services that you want to see streamed to your desktop?
The reason that I’m using Twhirl and not Twitter web page is similar to the reason why people are using install desktop applications for instant messaging, we need it right here and now, working asynchronously. I don’t want to keep on looking for my Twitter home page or keep pressing F-5.
What that is great about Twitter (it almost feel corny to write another post about it, don’t you think?) is that conversation sparks quickly and spread wide and far. See these two examples from Twitscoop: #thewaywewere and surname.
Twhirl is an Adobe Air application; a lightweight desktop client using Twitter API for getting and sending Twitter status updates, replies and direct messages. I know that there are many other similar applications out there but so far Twhirl seems to do a good job for me. Twhirl was acquired by Seesmic another interesting lifestreaming service few months ago. A great move by Loic Lemeur, Seesmic CEO.
Here are three suggestions for getting additional information on to my desktop via Twhirl:
- Twitter search Trending topics – this will help keeping me in the loop. Lately, I go to this page almost every day some times even more than once for my web-now treat. If you want to stay current on the day’s agenda all you got to do is to take a quick peek at this list. In some cases you’ll need to drill down to the conversation itself for better understanding of the context, but it takes reading only few updates to get it. One option is to mashup Twitter + TwitScoop. This combination brings to your desktop not just the Trending topics but also the volume and duration of the conversation around them. Just think about how a small change like this can get more people and quicker riding new waves of conversations.
- The number of followers – sounds trivial but it is something that I check occasionally and still have to go to my Twitter(kerendg) home page for getting this information. Twhirl Friends/Followers page is a good place to put it.
- Please make the @ and envelop buttons in different colors when I have an answer or direct message (red or green would work fine). I can mark them as read (for you to turn it back off).
To sum up this short post : Twhirl brings immediacy to microblogging. I barely install new software on my laptop these days (my OS loves me for that). Twhirl is an exception for two reasons:
- The name AIR (fantastic choice of a word by Adobe) implies something light and transparent (vs. windows application/thick client).
- I need it as close to real-time as possible.
So, bottom line is that I count on it to deliver more information supporting my lifestreaming and web right now experience using Twitter.
The home page is Google’s style page with a single edit box for entering the search term. It is very common these days minimizing the functionality presented on the first page. I’m not sure that this is in favor of this powerful tool in this case. In addition there is a list of Trending Topics showing very smartly selected items that are frequently mentioned.
The list above was taken on July 11th, 2008 the day Apple released its iPhone 3G, Dark Horse Entertainment released its Hellboy II movie and Seven Eleven served free Slurpee (7/11). We can also learn that the movie Hancock is still on peoples’ mind or watch list (released on July 2nd). Is Loopt the next big thing? IndyMac bank crashed – the financial sector is still in big trouble (7/11 was a bad stock market day).
Now, real-time tag cloud generating tool like Twitscoop should find these too but I did not see it or it just changes too fast.
Now this is what that I consider a great summary of that day’s agenda. Don’t you think?
It is very American oriented, I know, yet some of it has relevance to the rest of the world too.
Few comments on the home page minimalism:
- I think that some of the Advanced Search capabilities should be brought forward. I really like the Attitudes section.
- Maybe by showing examples for some relevant queries they could help people see how to use this important tool.
- Trending links could be cool too – I guess that this could be a challenge due to the use of multiple URL shortening services.
In the next post I will try looking beyond single “subject” search. Possibly looking at multiple subjects and looking for the associated “verb” too. Maybe there is a chance to learn more about the crowd, using Summize. Can you see how the business world can benefit from using Summize?
I’m not sure what can be learned from it but it is fascinating to see how a digital gadget is able to draw so much excitement, disappointment, frustration and appreciation. Summize provides a nice way for seeing it.