The world has gone Twitter. It seems everyone is using the microblogging service to promote products and services, communicate with friends near and far, and riff on their idle musings. We’re big on Twitter here at BBGeeks. We have a widely-read feed ourselves: @BBGeeks. Then there are the personal feeds of your humble hosts: @CooperLang and @JoePawl. As such, we tend to try out the BlackBerry Twitter apps out there. There’s the complete guide to TwitterBerry, which is due for an update. Now, though, a few more Twitter apps have entered the fray, the most prominent being ÜberTwitter. We recently learned up an upgrade to the service, so let’s take some time to walk through it.
The first thing you’ll want to do, of course, is to download the application. Head to the download page from your computer and you’ll see a few options. Go from your BlackBerry and there should be just one link. Click it and you’ll have the download. When you first run the program you’ll be prompted to grant ÜberTwitter permissions. Save that up and you’ll head to the introduction screen. This explains that ÜberTwitter is beta software, and this is the testing process. It also notifies users of a Feedback menu feature, which allows you to report problems and request new features. As you can see in the list of upgrades in the newest Beta, they do listen. Then comes the screen where you enter in your Twitter username and password. You’ll do that, and then hit Verify Account. If you see Success! in a dialog box, hit Next. If not, try again. On the next screen is the option to integrate Google Talk. If you have a GTalk account, you can enter in your information, and then your Twitter updates will also be your Google Talk status. This is good for lazy people like me, who tweet when something ticks them off but is often too indifferent to update a status message. You can also allow for location broadcast with ÜberTwitter. You have the option to use the built-in GPS if it’s available. I’m on Verizon, so it is not at the moment. You can add location to every tweet (denied in my case), automatically add location to pics/vids (makes sense), let you choose whether to add your location after every tweet, and update your Twitter profile with your current location (denied, denied, denied). After that it’s onto font settings. If you can read small print, you can opt to reduce the font size and make more of each tweet visible on the timeline. Best of all, there’s a preview right there so you can play around until you’re comfortable. You can also bold the font. It default at 16, but I found 13 eminently readable. The same process applies for the tweet text. This defaults as bold and 21-point font. Point 18 and non-bold worked just fine for me. It just keeps going, too. After you take care of the font it’s onto the interval at which ÜberTwitter will update. It defaults at 10 minutes, but I like quick updates. It makes conversations flow a bit better. Then you’ll get some interface options, including the display of confirmation dialog, merging replies and DMs into the timeline (yes, please), receiving notification of new tweets, and then the maximum number of tweets in the timeline, icon cache size, and the maximum number of tweets to receive at a time. Finally — FINALLY — you can set advanced network options. The recommendation from both ÜberTwitter and me is to leave it on Auto Network. If you have a Wi-Fi device, you might want to check Use Wi-Fi if available. One last screen lets you choose whether to run ÜberTwitter in the background instead of completely closing it. I’m sure most tweet-heads out there will choose Yes. Once you check the box, hit save, and you’ll get a familiar dialog box. Then it’s onto some serious tweeting.
Navigating the timeline screen
If you already have a Twitter account — and if you’re downloading ÜberTwitter I’m assuming you’re already at least partially addicted — the setup process will take care of most everything. Once you finish you’ll see a timeline main screen, which lists all past tweets — plus replies and direct messages, if you so chose it during the setup process. There’s so much you can do here, it’s tough to find a place to start. The Menu button is your friend right here. Hit it and you’ll see a number of options. Choosing Update My Status brings you to a familiar “What are you doing?” screen. Obviously, all you have to do here is type in your message and it will show up on your Twitter feed, including the ÜberTwitter timeline. The next option is Refresh which, as the name suggests, allows you to manually check for new tweets. I tend to use this during conversations with other users, as to not leave them hanging for three minutes or five or however long I set my auto refresh. The next two options allow you to view replies and direct messages (DM). This is more useful if you haven’t chosen to merge replies and DMs into your timeline. I have chosen to do so, so these two options aren’t of much use. However, it makes it easy to check for things people said to or about me if I haven’t checked my device for a while (sorry, but there are just times when I’m not going to go through all 400 tweets I missed). Replies are a neat function in ÜberTwitter. They work like normal replies, except here there is an option to Reply All. What this does is, as you can see to the right, send out a tweet directed at everyone contained in a message. This works well for responding to retweets (RT), or creating group conversations. The only drawback, of course, is that the usernames deduct from your total characters, forcing you to follow Rule 17 a bit more strictly. Next up are ReTweet and Direct Message. Both of these are self-explanatory for Twitter vets. To retweet a message, highlight it and hit the Menu key, selecting ReTweet. As with normal retweets, it will start off with RT @username, followed by the message. Etiquette, as I’ve seen it, is to add your own thoughts after double front slashes (//) or contained in brackets. Direct Message works the same way. Just highlight the person you want to message, hit the Menu button, and select Direct Message. Remember, you can only send DMs to mutual followers. The final two options at the top of the timeline menu are for Get Link and Make Favorite. Get Link only appears when you’ve highlighted a tweet containing a link, usually of the condensed format. Make Favorite is the same as starring a tweet. After you select the option you’ll get a confirmation box.
More timeline options
Seriously, ÜberTwitter has a ton, ton of options. So much so that we’re breaking this down into two parts to make it a bit easier to read. A line divides the main menu, so in this part we’ll discuss the options under the line. First is My Friends. This will give you a detailed look at your friends, from newest to oldest. This includes their name, bio, pic, website, and other information you’d see through their Twitter profile. From here you can hit the Menu button to view their full profile (which is basically the same, plus their latest tweet. Below that is My Followers, which is, as you might have guessed, a list of those following you, from newest to oldest. Everyone is an option you might want to avoid. As it implies, it’s all of Twitter. Or at least that’s what it looks like. All I know is that it took forever to load on my BlackBerry, and it featured tweets from three and four seconds ago. Everyone Near You will break down the list to people who has their location set — either by GPS or by their own setting — to near you. The menu in both of these screens gives you the option to follow the user, reply, retweet, and view their profile. Thankfully, the last four options won’t take much time. Favorites allows you to view the tweets you’ve previously marked. Your timeline lets you see the tweets you’ve made. Search Twitter lets you take advantage of Twitter’s search engine. Trending topics will bring you to a list of the most popular topics currently being discussed (usually noted with the # sign). There’s one more set of menu options below, but they’re all pretty basic (and can be explained in a mere paragraph). Copy Tweet does just that. Options brings you back the options you set in the Getting Started section. About tells you about the version of ÜberTwitter you’re using. Feedback sends your thoughts off to the ÜberTwitter team. Set Permissions again brings you back to the permissions you set upon first launching ÜberTwitter. Finally, Exit totally closes the program, while Close will (if you set it so) will move ÜberTwitter to the background.
When you send a new tweet, or are replying to a friend, you have a number of options. To start, either click Update My Status or reply to a friend’s Tweet. Type your message, and then hit menu for a number of options. First, you can shrink your tweet. This basically takes out all of those pesky vowels so you can say more in your 140 characters, even if it makes it appear that a three-year-old wrote it. There’s also an easy Select option, so you can copy your text to the clipboard. Don’t want to delete the entire string? Select Clear Field. You can also spell check your tweet, which is nice in most instances. Unless, of course, you’ve shrunk your tweet. Then it’s just silly. This is also where you can send pictures. In the menu, select Take Picture. That will open your camera app, and you can snap one to send to a friend. This will automatically attach the picture to the tweet. Once you’re done, hit Send Tweet, and your timeline will update. Depending on your connection and your camera settings, it might take a while for the picture to upload. Viewing the picture is a simple matter, too. If you click on a message from a friend who has a picture attached, it should show up in the message screen, below the text. If for some reason it doesn’t, you can always select Get Link and view it in the Web browser.
Random thoughts on ÜberTwitter
Just a couple of thoughts on my experience with ÜberTwitter so far:
- It eats battery. I accidentally left ÜberTwitter running overnight and it knocked a full bar off my battery. Then again, my battery is in its decline phase, so it could be a combination of the two.
- Some things take forever to load. This not only means a delay in the information, but it slows up my BlackBerry in general. Not a big issue if I’m only using ÜberTwitter. You have to expect long load times because of all the info and graphics it’s pulling from the server.
- The interface is pretty awesome. I use TwitterFox as my laptop client, and ÜberTwitter simulates that well. It works better, actually, because it integrates my replies and DMs, while TwitterFox has a (sometimes annoying) separation of them.
I’m sure plenty of BBGeeks readers are using ÜberTwitter already. So what are your takes on it? 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 Applications Ranked post where we fill you in on all the best Twitter apps available.