Our series on BlackBerry Twitter clients continues today with Blackbird — and no, you don’t capitalize the second B. It’s a stripped-down client, allowing only basic functions. This is good for simple Twitter users, but as you’ll see in the walkthrough, there are many missing features which will certainly annoy power users. Still, there’s something to be said for simplicity, and for those who just want to update their Twitter and check on friends’, Blackbird might just be the answer.
To get Blackbird, you can head to http://dossy.org/twitter/blackbird/. From here you can check out some screen shots, view the change log, and download the application for sideloading via Application Loader. If you want to download the application OTA, get it from http://dossy.org/twitter/blackbird/latest/Blackbird.jad. I emailed the link to myself to make it a bit easier, but if you do type it in make sure you capitalize the first B in Blackbird.jad. The download is very quick, which is always a plus. Not only does it save time up front, but it’s the sign of a smaller application. This is nice for those of us who 1) don’t need a fancy and graphic-intensive interface for our BlackBerry Twitter experience, and 2) who have plenty of other apps in memory and need to conserve space. Once you install, fire up the application and you’ll get the basic login screen. Enter in your information and hit Login. Once you’re in, click the Menu button and select Friends Timeline to see what everyone on your list is up to.
Sending a tweet and pictures
Sending tweets is as easy on Blackbird as it is on any other BlackBerry Twitter client. From any screen you can hit Menu and select Send Update. That will bring up a dialog box asking the universal question: What are you doing? The contrast in the box is strange — it’s a black box with a white strip on top. Normally I’d think that’s where the text goes, but that’s actually where the phrase, What are you doing, is printed in Twitter sky blue. When you enter in text it appears in white on the black background. Just a bit strange. From there you can press the Send button and you’re good. Those who want to send a picture might be disappointed, as it’s not a supported feature. The only options for updating tweets is the simple function of entering text. Again, this is a stripped-down client, and surely eschewing support for sending features helps keep the application size small and the resources used to a minimum.
Replies, direct messages, retweets
Replying to a tweet is just as easy as tweeting in the first place. Just highlight a tweet from the person to whom you’d like to respond. Hit the Menu button and select Reply. The same dialog box will pop up, only with the @username already in place. Type your message, hit Send, and you’re good. Same goes for direct messages. Just highlight the appropriate contact, hit Meny, and select Direct Message. The “d username” will appear automatically. Alternatively, you can always enter in those symbols and usernames directly. Just hit Send Update, and type in “d username” or “@username” — without the quotes, obviously. The only way to do retweets is manually, as there is no dedicated option for it. You’ll have to go to the tweet that you want to redistribute, click the trackball on it, and then copy and paste the text. Obviously, you’ll have to add the “RT @username” part by hand.
There are no location functions with Blackbird.
Following and unfollowing
You cannot follow new users or unfollow existing users with Blackbird.
There is no way to search tweets using Blackbird.
There just aren’t many shortcuts with Blackbird, but here are a quick few: Tweet: m
Reply: e or r
Direct Message: d or f
Obviously, Blackbird doesn’t have nearly as many features as other Twitter clients we’ve reviewed. This is by design, but even so there are a lot of basic functions I’d like to see implemented, the foremost of which being search. Without search, Blackbird becomes just a way to keep up with your Twitter feed while on the road. I clearly would not recommend it for those who do the bulk of their Twittering from their phone. There are essentially no options, which is always disappointing when writing a review. Clicking through all of the options provides new ways of enjoying the software. All you can change is your account, the API, and the connection. Everything else is set in stone. There is no way to set Blackbird to automatically update. So every time you want to see a new batch of tweets, you have to manually select Refresh. Not the biggest deal, but a mild annoyance. At least there are dedicated places for replies and direct messages. Both can be accessed from the main screen by depressing the Menu button. Again, this is not for the power user. But for someone who just wants to check in while away from the computer, you could do a lot worse than the lightweight Blackbird. NOTE:If you would like to check out some other options for using Twitter on your BlackBerry, please be sure to read our BlackBerry Twitter Apps Ranked post where we fill you in on all the best Twitter apps available.