Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Twitter for Windows Phone 7 reviewed, thoroughly unexciting

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Twitter for Windows Phone 7Perhaps my expectations were too high as I eagerly unwrapped my HTC Trophy, plugged it into my computer and booted up Zune. Installing apps is so easy! Search, click, blam. In moments I was booting up Twitter, its comforting, peaceful blue emanating from the phone's bright screen.

You're greeted with a 'top tweets' (lower-case is obviously still in), 'trends,' 'suggested,' and 'nearby' panorama. You don't have to log in to use this section, which is nice, as a lot of people use Twitter for the newsy aspect, rather than actually tweeting.

That's where the good news ends.

Twitter for WP7 is slow. Sliding between pages is spluttery and nowhere near as smooth as the main WP7 menus. Scrolling down through tweets is worse; the frame rate drops just enough to create a bit of a 'blinking' effect that will probably cause epileptic seizures amongst sensitive users.

Unfortunately... it gets worse.


I think the main problem is that it parades as a real Windows Phone 7 application. From the outset it looks like it belongs on the phone, but the more you play with it, the more blatantly obvious it becomes that this is one heck of an ugly duckling. It's hard to explain, as the WP7 experience is both subjective and tactile, but I can only describe it as sticky.

When you slide between panes, you're greeted with a blank white void while the next page loads -- which takes quite a while, I might add. Compare this to the Facebook app, which beautifully adheres to the Metro UI paradigm, where each pane seamlessly melds into the next. I'm left wondering why Twitter -- an incredibly simple service -- feels harder to use and several orders of magnitude less useful than Facebook.


Still, Twitter for WP7 does do one thing well: composing new tweets is simple and intuitive. You can easily include your location or attach a photo. Every hashtag that you use is saved, so it just takes two clicks to add them to future tweets. It's worth mentioning that the Windows Phone 7 on-screen keyboard is good, too, and comparable to Android's SwiftKey.

In conclusion

If I was the type to make analogies, I would liken Twitter for WP7 to a bowl of weak chicken soup. Ostensibly, it ticks all the boxes -- it's warm, it's wet, it looks like chicken soup -- but ultimately but it lacks flavor. Yes, you can send and surf tweets, but the experience could be so much better.

Therein lies the crux of the matter: it's very easy to make WP7 apps that look nice, but taste like ass. That's the problem with exciting new UI paradigms: developers that 'get it' will create beautiful, functional masterpieces -- while the unwashed masses will churn out mediocre apps that wholly fail to capitalize on the possibilities of Windows Phone 7 and the Metro UI.

[Thanks to HTC for providing the phone used in this review!]

Twitter for Windows Phone 7 reviewed, thoroughly unexciting originally appeared on Download Squad on Mon, 15 Nov 2010 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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