I have recently recommended a wonderful Twitter client called Tweetings, which is my current client of choice for my own use. In the comments for that piece, several users noted that Tweetings is actually derived from free, open-source Twitter client Twidere. This is interesting because Tweetings costs $3 and has no free version, while Twidere is completely free and definitely shares some similarities (even though it comes from a different developer). I took Twidere for a spin to try and determine what difference $3 makes – is there even a reason to get Tweetings, or is Twidere a solid choice?
Installation and First Steps: Do You Wish To Be Tracked?
Since Twidere isn’t trying to sell you anything (you couldn’t pay for the app if you wanted), it can afford to be very upfront about several things right off the bat. When you first install the app, you get a forthright message from the developer setting out what you can expect, and whose fault it is:
The other thing Twidere is being direct about is… tracking your every move:
This tracking is actually opt out, meaning you are initially being tracked – and if you happen to dismiss the notification without realizing it, you’ll just keep getting tracked. At least Twidere is being extremely clear about what is getting tracked, and boy, that’s quite a bit: Your timeline, every time you click on a tweet, and your coarse location. Yikes. Good thing it’s easy to opt out. Next, let’s look at what using the app is like.
Black or White (But Not Time-Based)
Much like Tweetings, Twidere comes with both dark and light themes:
Unlike Tweetings, Twidere can’t switch between themes based on the time of day. You’ll have to pick one and stick with it (or else go to the settings and manually switch it every time, something few users would bother doing).
The tabbed interface works just like Tweetings’ one, and you can customize the tabs to some extent. You can’t change their order, but you can add new custom tabs.
Interacting With Tweets and Users
Next, let’s look at the timeline experience:
To the left you can see the context menu for one of your own tweets, and to the right is the menu for one of your friends’ tweets. The only difference is in being able to delete your own tweet – but both menus let you do basically anything you want without having to go into the individual tweet view.
If you do want to go into a single tweet, it looks like this:
This part of the app has one of the key differences between Twidere and Tweetings: Tweetings has a built-in browser that lets you open links right in the app, and view them in a mobile-friendly, readable way. Twidere lacks any such feature – if you want to read a link, you’re just going to have to open it in your browser (not such a bad thing, given the intense competition between Android browsers which means you probably have a decent browser installed). As you can see above, though, you do get inline image previews. And no, I don’t know whether or not that image was photoshopped (let me know in the comments).
Next let’s look at an individual user page:
Again, we get a view that’s quite similar to Tweetings, but more limited. Notably missing is the option to mute a user’s retweets – that’s actually a great way to hear what a user has to say, but not what they have to retweet (surprisingly useful, and something I haven’t seen in other clients). You can set a color for the user, as well as do everything else you’d expect (add them to a list, block them, and so on).
If you’ve looked at the Tweetings review, you won’t be surprised to discover the wealth of settings Twidere puts at your disposal. This is one of the few areas in which Twidere is actually better than Tweeting:
Above you can see the Look and feel settings screen, and its sample tweet. As you change the text size and other settings, you see the sample tweet updating in real-time, making it easy to get the look you want without having to switch back and forth between the app and the settings. This is a major advantage, and something I really wish Tweetings had as well.
Remember those rate limits? Twidere includes a way to work around them:
To the right you can see the Network configuration screen, with its Consumer key and Consumer secret fields. Twidere’s Google Play page links to a gist on Github from which you can copy a consumer key and secret that would help avoid the rate limits (That’s the workaround I told you about at the outset of the post). That doesn’t sound very friendly, but such is the way of Twitter’s API these days, making users jump through hoops to do what originally gave the platform its power (i.e, consume it any way they like).
Not As Polished, But Packs Plenty of Power
Using Twidere is a pleasant experience, but frankly, it’s not as nice as Tweetings. I noticed some visual glitches on my device, and not everything worked perfectly. For a free product, that’s par for the course – and it is a powerful Twitter client many users can be happy with. My advice is that you check it out, but if you don’t like it, that doesn’t mean you won’t like Tweetings. Of course, there are many, many clients out there (at least for now).
What did you think about Twidere? And about the state of third-party Twitter clients in general? Let me know in the comments.
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