Although the platform supports social networking integration, there is still a need for full apps of services such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on Windows Phone.
A quick look at the Windows Phone apps + games service (where you can find Twitter) will reveal an endless list of Twitter related apps for the device – which is strange as Twitter functions (such as Tweeting and retweeting) can be found in the People Hub!
So, why do so many Twitter apps exist, and why would you choose the official Twitter app as your preferred choice?
The answers are interesting…
Why Does Windows Phone Need a Twitter App?
When you boot up a Windows Phone and head to the People Hub, you will see a list of your contacts, their telephone numbers and email addresses. If you add a social networking account to your phone, you will also see what these people are up to on services such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Twitter can also be added, but like Facebook and LinkedIn, integration is limited.
That is to say that although you can see what people are posting, you cannot necessarily fully engage with the service in the way you might with a dedicated app. For instance, the People Hub doesn’t support Twitter lists.
As a result, there is an official Twitter app for Windows Phone. There are also many third party apps all trying to improve on the original, with varying degrees of success.
Twitter App Features
The Windows Phone Twitter app has various features and functions that make it an attractive choice. Although it could be argued that there are better alternatives available, it remains the best of the free to use, ad-free Twitter apps.
Providing support for multiple Twitter accounts, hashtags, photo uploads, insertion of usernames from your friends (enabling you to direct messages @ them) the app also provides location-aware support (which can be disabled) and directs notifications to the Start screen when you’re mentioned or your posts are retweeted. Search is also available, as is access to custom lists.
There are also two themes available, dark and light, but sadly there is not a live tile feature which would display the number of retweets, for instance (a feature available with other Twitter apps).
Tweeting, Retweeting and Configuring
The most important thing about this Twitter app, however, is that it is easy to use.
To make a new Tweet, all you need to do is tap the Compose button, and enter your thoughts using the keyboard, complete with autocorrect options. It is from this screen that you can add photos, either from your library of images or from either of your Windows Phone’s cameras. Direct messages can also be sent using the Message button, although note that as per Twitter’s rules, these can only be directed to someone that you are following and who is also following you.
You can view your own profile with this app, and while doing so you will notice that there is an Edit profile option in the ellipses menu. Editing options allow a new profile picture, display name, description, location and website to be added.
Good App or Bad App?
A check of the rating for this app on the Windows Phone app store will reveal an app with around 3 stars out of 5. I’m not totally sure what the individual users that have left a low rating have found wrong with the official Twitter apps as the problems described are not anything I’ve ever come across on either a Windows Phone 7 or a Windows Phone 8 handset.
Speed issues affect all Twitter apps (usually due to capacity problems), and as this official version offers multiple account support (rare among even some of the paid third party apps) there really is no reason not to recommend this free application.
The official Windows Phone Twitter app is published by Twitter (some “official” apps are released by Microsoft) so there is plenty of reason to expect a solid, slick and full-featured app.
While Twitter search is present, this app can unfortunately be slow at times, although that is often due to issues with the Twitter service itself. Most frustrating, perhaps, is the “gap in time” created between uses of the app. This effectively means that when you’re not using, and your Twitter activity continues elsewhere (perhaps on your PC), the app doesn’t display anything when it is relaunched apart from what it is happening on Twitter at that very moment.
This can prove very frustrating.
However, given the support for multiple accounts, camera and images, lists and direct messages, this is a very good Twitter app that is free to use but could do with some behind-the-scenes improvements to keep it relevant.