Hootsuite, the web-based Twitter interface, has launched an iPhone app so its devotees to use it on the move. The new app has all the features of its web platform, including URL shortening with ow.ly, statistics and uniquely, tweet scheduling.
As a keen Tweetie and Tweetie2 user, but a devotee of Hootsuite on the web myself, I thought I’d give the new application a try, but I’m not convinced its got the fundamentals right. Here’s why:
1. Stability on the move
Twitter is a great platform for networking online, and it comes into its own when you are traveling. With a mobile phone you can keep in touch with your contacts, hold conversations and share information wherever you are. Any application has to support mobile use.
Hootsuite, Tweetie2, and Tweetdeck, the other popular twitter platform which has moved to iphone, all crash out once in a while. I switched to the original Tweetie when it was first launched because of its resistance to crashing, and having tested all three brands for a couple of days I’d say there isn’t much in it.
However when it comes to other stability aspects, Tweetie has an advantage over the others, it looks after you.
Tweetie gives you full control over your tweet loads manually, keeps you in the same part of the stream you were in when you come back, restores your entire user interface if you cut out for a phone call, and best of all, saves your unsent tweets if there is loss of signal.
I’m a fast twitter user, and on the train the signal comes and goes. With Hootsuite, marking a tweet a favourite or following someone just won’t work. No error message, the button just doesn’t do anything. With Tweetie2 all your favourites, follows and searches are saved and synched when the signal returns, so you can keep on going.
Even better, if you send a tweet and there is no signal, Tweetie2 will save it as a draft for you to send later, and you can stack up a row of tweets ready and send them all with one click. If you try and send a tweet with Hootsuite when there is no signal, you can return to the tweet but there is no saving, you just have to wait until the signal returns.
So if you’re an avid twitter user on the move, I’d suggest you stick with Tweetie2 until some caching comes to Hootsuite.
2. Find out what’s going on
If you like Hootsuite on the web, you’ll like the fact that you can import your entire setup, tabs, accounts, lists and groups, into the iphone app, though you might not want the same setup on such a small screen.
Both Hootsuite and Tweetie2 have saved searches and trending topics, and with Hootsuite you can save your search to a particular tab on your layout.
If you want URL shortening with Hootsuite you have to use ow.ly, but this does give you statistics on clickthroughs on your phone. However with Tweetie, as with Tweetdeck, you can choose from a range of shorteners and even set up your own. Bit.ly is more popular than ow.ly, partly because the link doesn’t make a frame around the web page, but you can’t use bit.ly with Hootsuite.
Both apps handle hashtags well, but Tweetie2 again has the edge, giving you a compose button on the search results which pops the hashtag direct into each tweet you compose from there. If you’re tweeting an event from your iphone this is a must!
Hootsuite does not have a ‘Go to User’ function, only a simple search, but Tweetie2 does, and autocompletes bringing up a list of your friends as you type. If you hit cancel, Tweetie2 shows you a list of all friends in alphabetical order. With Tweetie2 you can also search ‘Nearby’, another function Hootsuite doesn’t have yet.
So if like Chris Brogan you want to spend 60% of your time on twitter using search, I’d suggest Tweetie2 has better functionality.
3. Conversations – the killer
And here we come to the real nub of the problem.
I use twitter as a conversational medium, a tool for interacting with people. Though I like to schedule tweets, its in order to spread my content over time and not inundate my followers, its not so I’m not there. The most important quality of any twitter iPhone app for me is REPLY.
Hootsuite has a reply button, but it doesn’t have ‘in Reply to’ functionality. This means that you can’t see what someone who tweets you was referring to. You can even do this on twitter.com so to me it is a fatal omission.
Conversely, Tweetie2 has really thought about conversational tweeting. Not only can you reply, you can ‘reply all’ – replying to everyone whose handle was in the tweet. Not only can you ‘in reply to’ but you get a threaded list of your conversation with the other person. Tweetie2 even produces threaded DM (private messages), a brilliant innovation, and lets you email an entire conversation so you can pass it on for action if you wish.
Without the ability to see conversations happening, any advantage scheduling and statistics gave the new Hootsuite application are lost on me. If I can’t converse, I don’t want to tweet. So for now I’ll keep the application on the side to check some stats, but I’ll be using Tweetie2 for the foreseeable.
Have you tried Hootsuite iPhone app yet? What do you think?