Monday, November 12, 2007

mrontemp Spaceballs Series - Mobile Twitter

Continuing on my rant about the deficiencies of various products, it's time to discuss Twitter.

On the whole, I like mobile Twitter. Because my corporate phone plan has a limited number of text messages, and because fifty million text messages can be overwhelming, I choose to use the mobile browser to access Twitter from my phone. This give me the ability to tweet from anywhere - well, I couldn't tweet from BART underneath the San Francsico bay, but I could tweet from ALMOST anywhere.

However, there have been some drawbacks in my mobile Twitter use. These may be personal problems, and at least one of the issues doesn't have to do with Twitter, but here's what I'm running into:

  • An inability to mark tweets as favorites. I like how mobile Google Reader handles this particular issue; I can star items by pressing the "*" key while viewing that item. (I can unstar them in the same way.) However, there's no way in the mobile web Twitter interface to do anything similar. I can't go to an individual tweet to star it, and there's no other way to star a message (e.g. list messages 1 through 5 and star message 4).

  • An inability to easily know when new people are following me. To be fair, this may be more of a fault of the limitations of the mobile experience than of Twitter itself. On the desktop/laptop version of Twitter, you have to scroll through several screens to find out when people are following you; on a smartphone, I just don't bother to do this. Therefore, I don't know when new people are following me until I check my e-mail.

  • An inability to see direct messages. If there's a way to see direct messages in mobile Twitter, I certainly don't know it. Not that I get a lot of direct messages, but if one were to be sent to me, I wouldn't know about it until I was on a desktop or laptop, which could be several hours or days after the direct message was sent.

  • An inability to copy URLs into my tweets. This isn't Twitter's fault; it's the fault of the smartphone interface. When composing tweets on my desktop or laptop, I often open up a separate browser window or tab, use my mouse to select the URL from that second window/tab, and paste the URL into my tweet. (Occasionally, I may have to manually run the URL through TinyURL first.) There is no way to do that on my Motorola Q and Windows Mobile 5, so if I want to add a URL while mobile tweeting, I have to type it in myself. This results in tweets like this:

    see 10 nov entry in http://mrsloquacious.blogsp... for mrs loquacious' response

    It was too much trouble to type in the URL for the specific post...and the URL probably would have been too long anyway, which would have required my manually-generated TinyURL solution. Try doing all THAT on a mobile phone.
So while I'm pretty happy with the capabilities afforded by mobile COULD be better.


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Julia Roy said...

I like using Twitter SMS + iTweet. SMS allows me to post quickly and I only receive notifications from when people @juliaroy. iTweet allows me to favorite tweets and see my friends timeline, which i miss through SMS.