Services that offer public APIs often get their best tools from third-party developers. Social platform Twitter is no exception: almost anyone who uses Twitter professionally will have TweetDeck on their desktop, which started out as an independent tool before Twitter acquired the project.
If only the company was so proactive with its mobile apps. The official Twitter app can get the job done, but updates tend to focus on Twitter’s branding and questionably useful new features rather than the usability or quality of the app itself. Here’s a selection of alternatives you should try if you’re a Twitter addict on Android.
Fenix (Free For 2.0 Preview)
I can’t tell if the developer of Fenix is a poor speller or just a really big Starcraft fan, but either way, it’s the Twitter app I use on my personal phone and tablet. The interface is clean without being too minimal, it offers advanced features like saving drafts and an internal browser, and it supports multiple accounts used at once. Best of all, it has the best scrolling Android home screen widget I’ve seen in any Twitter app (something that’s essential to me for quickly catching up on my main feed).
The developer constantly updates the application for bug fixes and compatibility with Twitter’s platform. The interface can be customized with background and accent colors, and columns for mentions and direct messages are easy to navigate. I only wish there was some way to add Lists to the main tabs. Right now the preview version for the big 2.0 update is free for all users, but it will probably be $3-4 when it becomes stable.
Most of the modern Twitter apps seem to share a similar columned layout and a focus on dark, high-contrast user interfaces. Flamingo keeps the former but ditches the latter for bright colors in the default theme with a focus on photos and videos. The app’s signature feature is “hover,” which allows users to tap and hold images to blow them up or start a video preview, then release to go back to the main feed.
Flamingo supports “tweetstorming” if you’ve got a lot to say in Twitter’s arbitrary character limit, and it can apply different themes to different Twitter accounts if you’re using more than one. “Advanced muting” lets you silence specific users for a time without unfollowing them. Its scrolling widget is much more customizable than most, and even includes image previews.
Plume (Free, $5 for Ad-Free Version)
One of the older go-to Android Twitter clients, Plume still has loyal users who wouldn’t consider anything else. While its interface is a little dated by Twitter client (and general Android) standards, it’s one of the few apps that takes tablet support seriously, with multiple columns visible at once if your screen is large enough to support them—great if you use your tablet as a desktop notification center. The app can also double as a Facebook client, if you’re not a fan of the dedicated apps for that other social network.
Plume includes an optional internal browser and wide image sharing support, along with bit.ly URL sharing if that’s your jam. Muting tools are extended to words or phrases, for when you just can’t stand to see “covfefe” one more time. Plume is a must-have for tablet enthusiasts, and they might just like it so much it because their go-to on the smartphone as well. The standard app is free, but the $5 “Premium” add-on will remove the app’s advertising.
Talon was one of the new batch of “next-gen” Twitter apps that began appearing a few years ago, and its developer has diligently kept it at the front of the pack with maintenance updates and feature improvements. Though it only supports two accounts out of the box, it goes above and beyond an internal browser with an “article reader” that strips most of the formatting from web pages to let you focus on readable text.
The column interface can be re-arranged and removed as the user sees fit, and the app supports videos and images competently, though easy sharing doesn’t appear to be a primary focus. Powerful filters, a scrolling widget, and support for Android Wear watches round out the $3 package.
Tweetings shares most of the modern features with the above Twitter clients, but its “stacked timeline” view is the most interesting to me. This allows you to separate tweets by user, with a nested list showing which followed accounts have been tweeting the most. It’s a great tool if you’d like to focus on a few specific accounts. Tweetings also includes built-in statistics and advanced tablet views in the Settings menu.
Tweetings is free: though there are in-app purchases to tip the developer, they’re optional and they don’t unlock any features. They make this particular app one that’s worth looking into if you’d rather not spend any money on a premium client.