There are many Twitter applications on the Play Store, from the official Twitter application, to Plume, Tweetdeck or Seesmic. All of these have their own style and functionality. In Tweetdeck, you can customize the font and the number of columns in the application as well as connect to other services like Facebook and Foursquare. Seesmic has a similar feature set but uses a different UI style. Plume follows a Holo-like look and offers an impressive — and slightly daunting — amount of features.
The only major downside in most of these applications is that they lack UI color customization. Tweedle is a Twitter application that tries to close this gap with full UI theming freedom. However, it’s still in development and major updates are slightly sparse as the developer considers this his side-project.
Tweedle is available on the Google Play Store for free and is also ad-free. It requires Android 2.1 and up, so basically it will run on any Android powered device that is on the market at the moment.
The app uses the straightforward and well known process of linking it to your Twitter account to grant access. Once you’ve done that, you’re taken to your timeline to view all your tweets. You can swipe to the left and right to get access to the other views inside the application: Timeline, Mentions and Messages.
The great thing about Tweedle is that if you open tweets with photo links attaches to them – Twitpic, Instagram, or even Twitter’s own hosted photos — the application will load the image. You can even have it display thumbnails of photos inside your timeline, which looks quite cool.
Another nice feature is that Tweedle is built using the Holo design language, introduced by Google along with Ice Cream Sandwich. This means that you can get a fresh and modern look even on a non-ICS phone, which is great. This shows how much attention to detail the developer put in the application.
Make It Your Own
At a first glance Tweedle seems to be “just another twitter client”, but in fact it has something that every application, not just twitter applications, should have: the ability to create and personalize your UI. This might not as advanced as the UI builder in GO! SMS, but many of the essentials are there.
If you’d like to start somewhere, or if you don’t know how you want your Twitter client to look, Tweedle offers a few presets to choose from, all of which are very well designed:
- Default: this preset features, as you might expect, the default blue and white Twitter color.
- Market: this one emulates Google Play Store skin with a mix of grey, white and green.
- Light: a light grey preset that’s easy on the eyes and not too brightly colored. Only the links are highlighted in blue.
- Dark: a high contrast dark version, perfect for AMOLED displays.
Tweedle’s UI customization doesn’t stop here. As I said, you can personalize the look of every element in the application to suit your needs. You can change the Base Design, the top part of the application — also known as the ActionBar — and the color of various other parts:
- ActionBar Background
- ActionBar Menu Items
- Page Header Background
- Page Header Text
Some Minor Flaws
As with any application, Tweedle is flawed, and frustratingly so. Tweedle’s main kink is that it supports background updates in a weird and irritating manner. Bear with me while I explain this.
In the official Twitter app, if you have your mobile data connection enabled and background sync enabled, whenever you fire up Twitter, it loads the last viewed tweet, but adds the scrollbar telling you that you have new tweets. You scroll up and voila! you’ve caught up on your tweets. This is how it should work.
On the other hand, Tweedle loads your last viewed tweet when you launch it and that’s it. You’ll have to manually refresh the feed to get the new tweets. If you would like to enable background updates, you are forced to enable notifications with that. And this is where it gets weird because you’ll be notified every time the app updates in the background, which can be a major pain. Even if you pick a silent ringtone, Tweedle will show in your notification tray, and you might think that you have a new mention or message, but no, it’s just a new update to the timeline.
Personally, this is the major annoyance that’s keeping me from using Tweedle as my main client. When the developer allows us to activate background updates without a notification for the timeline, Tweedle will be solid enough as a daily driver.
Tweedle is not the best Twitter application in the Google Play Store, but it sure is the underdog of them all. The Holo UI on all Android Devices from version 2.1 and up is a great plus and the fact that you can customize the look of the application is another. It is also one of the rare free and ad-free Twitter apps, and developed by one man as a side-project which is rather impressive and reason enough to deserve our support.
The only downside is that frustrating timeline notification on background updates issue. If you can look over that, or if you don’t mind manually refreshing the timeline, Tweedle deserves a solid 10 rating, but my final score is going to be a 9 because of that.