Thursday Tech Tip – BlackBerry Twitter App Shoot-Out

Posted on Thursday, Feb 19, 2009

UPDATED on 4/20/2009 to include ÜberTwitter

As I mentioned yesterday, we’re on a Twitter kick here at Good Old Rock. I’ve spent the past two weeks evaluating different Twitter apps on the BlackBerry, and have the results of my arduous testing available to share with you today. Some notes – every client was used for a minimum of one day, treating that client as my main gateway into Twitter. I have provided screen shots (and by “screen shots” I mean “photographs of my BlackBerry’s screen) to illustrate what the Friends Timeline looks like with each client. Also, please note – all testing was done with my AT&T BlackBerry Bold – your mileage may vary on different models of BlackBerry, so I make no promises about that.




The least-frills client on the list, Blackbird is about as straightforward as you can get. No fancy user icons or TwitPic integration, Blackbird does one thing – display the timeline and let you post tweets. This was definitely my least favorite client, although it didn’t put a lot of battery drain on my phone. Customization is slim to none (your only configuration option is to choose between TCP or BES/BIS for the network connection).

Clicking on an individual tweet will bring up the entire message in a popup window along with the user’s icon (okay, so I was misleading in the intro when I said it did not have user icons). There is no way to post pictures to TwitPic with Blackbird. It does contain the usual “Replies” and “Direct Messages” views for isolating those particular messages, but otherwise, it’s very slim and unassuming. I could see how this could be a good client if you are rocking an older BlackBerry, such as an 8700 series, but for a Pearl, Curve, or better, I would say skip this client and move on.



The appeal of twibble is that it is location-aware; only one other client on this list has location-awareness. What does that mean? Well, if you choose to allow it, twibble will figure out your physical location from the GPS in your BlackBerry, and append that information to a tweet. This is apparently desirable for some people (yes, I know I am the pot calling the kettle black, given my interest in Google Latitude, but both my hypocrisy and location-aware applications are a post for another day).

In my testing, the location-awareness is about the only thing that twibble has going for it. Out of all of the clients tested, it was the hardest on my battery. The tweet windows do not contain a character count (this is essential for a Twitter client, as most of us cannot count to 140 without help).

Twibble does have the ability to attach a picture to your tweet (it uses TwitPic for this) but the interface is so poor it is almost laughable – you are expected to navigate directly through the filesystem on your BlackBerry (and every folder you open causes a new security prompt to appear). When you finally do find the directory with your pictures, there is no thumbnail view; you need to choose the photo based upon the filename only.

Due to a clunky and slow user interface and a terrible, terrible TwitPic implemenation, I rate twibble as a giant FAIL.


This was the first Twitter client I tried on my BlackBerry, and for a while I really enjoyed it. I still have to admit I go back and forth. One of the only negative things I can think of is that the icon for it does NOT jive well with the new BlackBerry OS on the Bold; I want to put it on my home screen, but the gaudy blue “t” just looks weird. TwitterBerry, you need a new icon.

Of all the clients reviewed, TwitterBerry has the best TwitPic integration (once you get it to work – here’s a tip: change the network connection from “auto” to “tcp” and suddenly TwitPic works perfectly). You cannot choose a picture to attach within the tweet window itself, but when you are browsing media on your BlackBerry, a “send to Twitterberry” context menu option appears. This is quite slick, and I’m frankly surprised that TwitterBerry is the only one who does this.

Posting tweets is simply and straightforward. In the Friends Timeline, clicking on a tweet brings the entire message up in a window, from which you can select and copy any of the text (this is more useful than you might think). Scrolling through the Friends Timeline can be a bit slow at times, though. Battery-wise, TwitterBerry stands up pretty well against the compeition. Of course, as with all of the other clients,  the update interval you set will impact your battery life.


The next client in the list is TinyTwitter, which boasts the coolest Friends Timeline of them all. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice; it’s referred to as the “expanding UI”, and it has a nice feel to it. One other nice feature of TinyTwitter is that it will “remember” where you are when you exit – so next time you load, you will be at the same place in the timeline for reading. This is a nice feature, but the lack of a keyboard shortcut to take you immediately to the top (all of the listed clients lack this) (note – this has been resolved in the latest TinyTwitter) make it a little annoying if you get really far “behind” on the timeline.

TinyTwitter also boasts of TwitPic integration, but it is only slightly better than twibble’s; you don’t have to ferret through the filesystem in as clunky of a manner, but you’re still choosing pictures based upon filenames. This is not ideal. Far from it.

An additional annoyance that was pointed out to me by @danciupuliga is that, on the BlackBerry Pearl, instead of the menu button being functional, the menu is called into existence by clicking the trackball. This is not the case on the Bold. This would be annoying, if I had a Pearl, but I no longer do, so it does not impact my life in a meaningful way. But it annoys Dan, so it bears mentioning here.


When I first wrote the Shoot-Out, this app was not around. It’s recently become available (in beta), and it’s really showing itself to be a contender in this space.

Boasting BlackBerry standard keyboard shortcuts, Google Talk status integration, and a clean and easy-to-use interface, ÜberTwitter is a pleasure to use. It does NOT feature integration with TwitPic, but you can take a picture and upload it with your tweet (using a specific UT service). There currently is no provision for attaching existing images to a tweet, but I imagine that will be coming soon.

Location-awareness is provided by cell tower triangulation, and you can have UT update your Twitter profile with your current location, or even include it in every tweet. Battery drain is less than stellar, but I still find it to be quite a good app. If you want to know more, check out my in-depth review of UT.

The Envelope Please….

In conclusion, of the four five apps reviewed here, my ultimate recommendation is TinyTwitter, which only edges out TwitterBerry by the slightest of margins – if TwitterBerry could get an icon that looks nicer on my home screen, it almost becomes a tie ÜberTwitter, which has taken over from TinyTwitter as my Twitter BB app of choice.. Ultimately, your choice of client is going to depend upon what is important to YOU – I should mention that the mobile version of the twitter site ({.linkification-ext}) performs admirably on the BlackBerry web browser – both the older version and the new hotness that is used by the Bold. And, of course, the web client won’t suck the ever-loving-crap out of your battery. But then again, battery-suck is the hallmark of a really fun application!

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