I tweet. A lot. I use Android. A lot. Therefore, I am quite choosy about the interface I use to tweet with. Simplicity and usability are key. You don’t want to be fumbling about in pop-up menus when firing off a tweet on a smartphone. There are several things that I look for in a compose tweet screen in a twitter app:
- Geotagging – It should be easy to turn geotagging on or off when composing a tweet, without having to bring up any sub-menus. Also, it should be obvious when geotagging is on.
- Multimedia – Photo and video upload services should be available without using sub-menus. Preferably, the text of the tweet should be set as the title of the photo or video on the third party website, such as Twitpic.
- Icons – The function of icons should be obvious and the ‘tweet’ button should be distinct from the other icons on the screen.
- Keyboard – A compose tweet screen should not overlap, or be overlapped by, the keyboard.
- URL Shortening – Shortening of URLs should be either automatic, or accessible via a button on the compose tweet screen. A choice of services is nice to have.
- Character count – Obvious, but subtle differences in the way it is implemented, such as going red when the character count is over 140, can make a difference to the usability.
- Access – The compose tweet screen should be easily accessible from anywhere within the app without having to bring up a sub menu.
So, let’s see how the compose tweet screens on the currently available Twitter apps on Android measure up:
First up is the official Twitter mobile website. It is pretty basic, geotagging is either on or off all the time, with no option to change the setting tweet by tweet. There is no ability to upload photos. When necessary, however, it does the job. Compose tweet score: 2/10
The new tweet screen of the official Twitter app is very good. Geotagging can be turned on and off easily. Photos can be uploaded. The ‘@’ button brings up a list of users you follow, although if you follow a lot of people this isn’t very useful. The ‘tweet’ button is separate from all the other buttons and becomes active when a tweet has more than zero and less than 140 characters. URL shortening is automatic, but there is no option to use anything other than Twitter’s own t.co. Like all the other apps in this list, there is a compose tweet button on every screen. Compose tweet score: 9/10
The ‘Send’ button is a little close to, and too much like, the ‘Cancel’ button for my liking, making it easier to confuse the two. There is a geotag button, but this brings up a menu where you choose the type of geotagging you want. It would be better if this was an option in the settings. Also, the default text size is a little small for the tweet box. Compose tweet score: 7/10
With the signature matt grey colour scheme the TweetDeck compose tweet screen has a very good user interface. There are buttons for geotagging and adding photos. The ‘Send’ button (actually, I thought all buttons had to say ‘Tweet’ these days, unless cross-posting to other websites?) is big and clear. The major bug, however, is that the tweet box itself is so big that the on-screen keyboard covers up some of these buttons. Compose tweet score: 5/10
One of the most basic looking compose tweet screens. Geotagging, URL shortening and photo/video uploads are easily accessible. Composing a new tweet is a two-tap process – one to bring up the new tweet screen and another tap in the tweet box to bring up the on-screen keyboard. The tweet button is a small arrow below the tweet box which is, on my HTC Desire anyway, slighty obscured by the on-screen keyboard. Compose tweet score: 3/10
The interface is very clean and user friendly, with everything you need at your fingertips. The tweet button could be bigger though. Compose tweet score: 8/10
Simple, easy to use interface. No geotagging option on this screen though. The ‘Send’ button is at the top right, away from all the other buttons, which makes accidentally sending a tweet less likely. Compose tweet score: 6/10
This screen has it all. A nice big ‘on/off’ button for geotags, URL shortening, photos uploads, hashtags and more. The only slight criticism I would have is that this screen is accessed by swiping down from the top bar of the app, which can be hit a miss. A dedicated ‘compose’ button within the app itself would be better. Also, the ‘Send’ button is not distinct enough from the other buttons. Compose tweet score: 8/10