After a week hiatus, we’re back with another walk-through of a BlackBerry Twitter client. This one is called Tweecaster, and it comes from Handmark, the same company which produces mobile portal Pocket Express. While we’ve covered a few minimalist applications in recent weeks, Tweetcaster is a pretty robust Twitter client, having some form of all the features we review. Plus, it has its own set of extras that help it stand out above the rest. Here’s a walk through the application.
Tweetcaster doesn’t offer the traditional download method of visiting the website and grabbing the application OTA. Instead, Tweetcaster’s method uses Twitter itself. By pasting a tweet to your account — and you can do it right from the download page — Tweetcaster will recognize your tweet and send you a download link. It’s an extra step for the end user, but it’s mostly harmless, and it helps Handmark spread the Tweetcaster brand. Once you have the download link, you can proceed as normal. Once you have the application running it starts with the standard fare of entering in your username and password. One option you’ll have initially is to follow Handmark. I leave the box unchecked, but that’s just me. If you want to follow Handmark and hear about updates to their software, you do have the option. Right off the bat, you’ll see a list of accounts. You can add a number of Twitter accounts to Tweecaster by clicking the Menu button in the main screen and clicking Add Account. You’ll go through the same process. But otherwise, to access your timeline, click on the account name.
Sending a tweet and pictures
When you’re in the main Tweetcaster page, hit the Menu button and select New Tweet. This will bring you to the What are you doing? page. Here you can type your message, clicking Send when you’re done. That’s the simple part. There’s plenty more you can do in this screen, though. Tweetcaster makes it easy to insert abbreviated URLs into your tweets. Click the Menu button, and then select Insert TinyURL. A dialog box will pop up informing you that a browser window will launch. Thankfully, if you already have your browser open it will just switch to the application, a welcome surprise. I thought it would launch a fresh one, like many BlackBerry apps. When you find the page you want to truncate, hit the Menu button and select Send to Tweetcaster. This will bring you back to the tweet page, where you’ll see the TinyURL in your tweet box. Attaching a picture is simple, too. In the tweet screen, hit the menu button and then select Attach Picture. This will let you choose from pictures on the device memory or your memory card. You can also take a new picture for attachment by selecting Take Picture. That will launch your camera application and then attach the result to your tweet.
Replies, direct messages, retweets
With Tweetcaster, replies and retweets are just as easy as the tweets themselves. You can do this either in your timeline or in the single tweet view. If you’re in timeline mode, hit the Menu button when you’ve highlighted the tweet which you want to rebroadcast or reply to, and then select either Reply to Tweet or ReTweet. That will bring you to the tweet screen, with all the appropriate text already in the box. For direct messages, go to any timeline screen (your timeline, replies, tweets, messages) and click the Menu button. Select New Direct Message. You’ll see the same type of screen as the tweet one, but with a recipient field below. It doesn’t appear you can auto-fill that field by highlighting a user. That’s the only minor issue. Other than that, you can send as normal. Plus, it allows you to send full 140-character direct messages, rather than counting the “d username” part against the total. You can check your direct messages inbox and your @replies on the toolbar atop the screen. That makes everything a bit easier to navigate.
Following and unfollowing
Following and unfollowing users is all done through profile pages. This requires some more steps than, say, Twibble, but it’s obviously better than BBTweet, which doesn’t offer the function at all. To unfollow a user, go to one of their tweets and click on the top portion, which will bring you to their profile. Under their description there will be options to see the user’s timeline, block the user, or Unfollow. Obviously, you want to choose the last. There is no prompt for you to unfollow a user, so be careful. To follow a user, use the GoTo User option from the top menu. Here you can enter in a username and see his or her profile. Where there is the option to Unfollow in the profile of someone you are following, there is a Follow option for users you are not following. There is a prompt for following, which is strange, because it would seem a bit more logical the other way around.
In the tweet screen, you have the option of manually updating your location by clicking Menu and selecting Location. You can also update your location by selecting My Profile from the top menu bar and clicking the Location option. There doesn’t seem to be any GPS tie-in at the time.
Search is plain and straight forward with Tweetcaster. There’s a search option on the top menu bar. Scroll to that and click the trackball. That will bring up the search results. This is also good for finding users to follow.
There aren’t many shortcuts for Tweetcaster. After pressing every key in my timeline, I only noticed that T, top, and B, bottom, really do anything.
Just a few final thoughts:
- I absolutely love the top navigation bar. It makes everything a bit easier.
- The battery drain wasn’t bad, but it ate 1/4 of my battery in about four hours with little other activity.
- I wish there was an option where you could auto-refresh your timeline.
- In fact, if it allowed for automatic refreshing, this would probably be my favorite Twitter app to date.
- The spot for trending topics is another great feature that I haven’t seen from other Twitter clients.
Again, if you want Tweetcaster, head to the download page and follow the instructions. NOTE:If you would like to check out some other options for using Twitter on your BlackBerry, please be sure to read our Ranking BlackBerry Twitter Apps post where we fill you in on all the best Twitter apps available.