Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

Twitter Apps for the Palm Pre

by Eric Stewart on Aug.01, 2009, under Cell Phones & Providers, Technology, The Internet

The Palm Pre is Palm’s latest handheld.  In the US, it’s currently only available on the Sprint network.  I picked one up a few days ago, and of course one of the first things I did was look for Twitter applications for it.  So far only two are available via the App Catalog: Spaz and Tweed from Pivotal Labs.

First, a few notes about Palm’s App Catalog: It’s considered a beta product, and it’s kind of thin on applications.  Currently, there’s no way to charge for apps through the catalog; but you’ll find the odd “trial” software that will stop working after so many days or uses, requiring you to visit the software company’s site and purchase a license.  A glance at Spaz’s pages indicate that they will eventually charge for the app, but it’s currently free (and fully so).

There are certainly ways to install applications not available via the App Catalog (and perform “unsupported functions”) on your Palm Pre, but I’m sticking to the “officially available” stuff in my blogs (EDIT: Okay I lied – but MyTether doesn’t have to involve fully rooting your device).  I leave it to others to explain “rooting” or other development level possibilities when it comes to the Pre (however, I may get desperate if an SSH application doesn’t show up in the App Catalog soon after it goes “release”).

Now, on to the comparison:

The apps are very similar in basic function; both display tweets (and can be configured to include replies to you from folks you do not follow in your timeline), post pictures to multiple media hosting sites (like TwitPic) – but via email (a comment on Spaz’s site indicated that this was due to missing APIs in the webOS for file uploading), have different font sizes available, and can handle multiple accounts.  Beyond the basic functions, the differences become quite stark:

  • Spaz shows the avatar for folks in your timeline; Tweed does not.  This can be a preference issue, as it allows Tweed to show more text in the same amount of space since none of the room is taken up by the avatar.
  • Tweed can open the timelines for all of your accounts simultaneously, as different pages.  Spaz, as far as I can tell, does not.  However, if you only want notifications about one account (in other words, you really only want to have one account logged in of the multiple you might follow), Tweed cannot do that.  EDIT: Tweed will continue to notify you even after the app is “closed”.
  • In addition, it looks as if Tweed’s notification settings are buggy – if you have “Notifications” on, it turns on both sound and vibration notifications, as well as the notification icon.  Any time I try to turn off either sound or vibration, when I exit the preferences and go back in, they are still on. EDIT: I had sent in a note about this issue to Tweed’s support folks and the key is to “tap” the setting switches for the sound or vibration, instead of “swiping” them. /EDIT Spaz has a sound option, but not a vibration option.
  • Spaz’s update interval is configurable – not just for your timeline, but if you perform a search, it will periodically update the search timeline as well, if you so desire.
  • When you ReTweet a ReTweet, Tweed will only include the text from the original ReTweet.  Spaz will include all the users in the ReTweet.  So if I go to ReTweet something that someone I follow is ReTweeting, Spaz allows me the opportunity to provide attribution to the person I follow as well as the original author.  Tweed only includes the original author.
  • Spaz is not just for Twitter – it also handles and Laconica accounts.
  • Both seem to be able to display the less crucial parts of Twitter, such as your Favorites or the Trending Topics.  They do go about them in different ways though; in some ways, these options were initially easier to find on Tweed, but after I found them in Spaz, they made a little more sense that way.
  • Spaz seems to be a bit pokey sometimes, particularly if you’ve got a lot of Tweets cached up.  Tweed I haven’t noticed issues with, but admittedly I’ve been using Spaz more.
  • Spaz is light text on a dark background; Tweed is dark text on a light background.
  • EDIT: Tweed has conversation tracking: if a tweet is involved in a reply (or series of replies), Tweed will pop a “conversation” icon to the right of the tweet, and if you so choose, you can view just the conversation in Tweed.  Tweed has become my preferred Twitter app on the Palm Pre because of this feature.

Well – I guess that’s pretty much it for now.  I’ll probably add more to this as time goes on, but I wanted to get this review at least out there …


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