One of the key aspects to any modern smartphone OS is how it handles social networking and considering Twitter integration in the Windows Phone 7 OS is simply non-existant as yet, it could be considered vital to the initial success of the platform that the Twitter application is up to scratch. So, I set about downloading and installing the free official app which took no more than a few seconds and I was itching to check it out.
If you are someone who bases opinions a lot on first impressions, then you may not have even made it into the main part of the app. I had a few gripes from the very beginning with this app and firstly, and perhaps you might consider it trivial, but the start screen icon is coloured with the same shade of blue used for the default blue theme for the OS.
This is the theme I use so it is not too problematic for me, but upon changing the colour of the theme you would expect that the Twitter icon was designed in order to follow that change. Not so, any other colour than blue means your Twitter app will stand out like a sore thumb smack in the middle of your home screen. Unsightly.
I would have stopped there, but it is my job to persist with these things so I went on into the Twitter app. Mistake. the actual load time for the app isn’t the problem, that is actually pretty snappy, but once you get in and try to update your timeline for the first time you may want to go make yourself a cup of tea and perhaps run a bath. It literally takes forever and it is probably quicker to give each of the people you follow a phone call to discuss the day. Of course I am being hyperbolic, and if you can maintain patience throughout the refresh process you will actually find yourself in a pretty neat application.
The entire colour scheme for the app is a simple light blue and white by default but can be altered to a dark theme which mixes a darker blue with a navy background, both of which are discrete and allow a lot of space for content, but the lighter theme is favourable in my opinion.
Navigating the app is consistent with how you navigate the majority, if not all, apps on Windows Phone 7 so far in that you manoeuvre through typical Twitter functions (timeline, mentions, messages, lists) horizontally with a single swipe. In the main timeline display you find your current Twitter feed along with timestamp and picture. Tapping a tweet takes you into a sub section from which you can follow links, retweet or reply to an individual.
Heading back to the main screens, no matter where you swipe to you will face a typical menu bar across the bottom with quick access icons to refreshing your feed (if you dare), posting your own tweet, sending a message and a pretty hand search facility.
All of this is pretty useful and gives you one of the most polished and functional Twitter experiences I’ve seen on a mobile device without actually using the full website or the Twitter iPad app, which is pretty good. Swiping up this menu brings up a pair of other functions, the second of which is simply to view your profile, but the first is settings, which is a little more interesting.
Entering the settings menu takes you immediately to your accounts page, from which you can add or remove, activate or deactivate your accounts and multi-account functionality is an option and doesn’t mess around with the app in any way unkind. You can also logout from here.
Swiping across takes you to a traditional ‘general’ settings menu from which you can alter font sizes, update frequency, image qualities and other useful tools for managing data usage. From here you can also add locations to your tweets and hashtags in trends, all pretty expected in a Twitter app. Furthermore, you can also alter your default Twitter services, such as yFrog, TwitPic, TweetPhoto etc.
So, overall a good effort. There are a few bugs that need to be sorted out as there are with any software in early versions, but the sheer length of time absorbed by refreshing your feed is enough to make a giant Tortoise grow impatient. Apart from that it is cleanly laid out, simplistic yet stylish and virtually fully functional. Until Windows Phone 7 gets proper Twitter integration it will have to do anyway, but I am more than happy to persist with it despite its early issues.