iPad Apps: Best App for Twitter

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Q: I'm an iPad owner that is overwhelmed by the number of applications available. Where should I start if I'm looking for a way to access my Twitter account?

ipad-twitter-apps.jpgTWITTER

Free | Version: 3.1.1 | Twitter

Beyond its day job of getting humanity to stop being so wordy, Twitter's also an app developer. Their flagship effort offers a slick way to blow through your tweets and the web pages most of 'em link to. Its signature feature is the seamlessness with which it lets you move between your timeline (stream of tweets) and the web pages that most of those mini-missives mention. Turns out that by serving up both tweet and linked page, your Twitter account delivers a deeper, more satisfying read. Rather than flittering through blip after 140-character blip, this app's convenient side-saddle presentation of tweeted links gives you a chance to consume more of your followees' mental nourishment.

PICK A CARD: The app's interface takes some getting used to, but the basic design is nothing more complex than columns: the left one for your account's key tools (search, direct messages), middle one for your timeline, and the right side for viewing the outward-pointing links. The latter two are actually more like stacked, movable cards; swipe 'em left or right to make one or the other center screen.

IN THE STACKS: If you want to return to your main timeline -- the one with just your latest list of tweets showing, tap the chat bubble icon on the left side of the screen. For extended web reading, expand the page to full screen by tapping the lower-right corner's diagonal, two-headed arrow. In this minibrowser, links are live and ready for tappin' (though you can't type in a new web address).

OVERHEARD: A disorienting aspect to life on Planet Twitter are those random chat snippets you sometimes run across (@oprah we liked the texmex!). These tend to be part of a longer exchange, but you're only viewing one snappy portion. Find the missing pieces by tapping the fragment in question, or even do a two-finger drag down, like a window shade. Twitter will lay out the full dialogue for your reading pleasure.

BACKGROUND: If you run across a tweet from someone you don't know (perhaps someone you follow has retweeted them), get the 411 on them, quickly: just do a two-finger spread across the unfamiliar tweet and out pops, 3D-style, a profile card listing their key details. From there, you can find all sorts of interesting details, including a browsable history of their tweets, who follows them, and who they follow.

HONORABLE MENTION: TWEET LIBRARY

$9.99 | Version: 1.1.1 | Riverfold Software

You tweet for the benefit of others, but as a collection, these micro-messages also serve as a kind of diary: where you went, what you did, and especially for power tweeters, what you found interesting. Problem is, Twitter doesn't make it easy to preserve this increasingly vital knowledge trail. (Sure, you can search online, but c'mon, who has the time?) Among Tweet Library's handful of nifty features is a system for sucking down the 3,000 most recent posts you've let fly. Now you've got a searchable, on-your-iPad record of your brain's best bursts. And if that's not enough, an export button lets you email a file of your collected works -- great for serious archivists.

CALENDAR TIME: Interested in seeing how much writing you did on a particular day? Tap the calendar icon and up pops a visual with a number logged whenever you posted. Click any day to see just those posts and swipe left or right to move through the months.

FREQUENT FLIERS: Those who like to organize might like another twist that this app introduces: "Collections." Stockpile thematically related tweets in these custom folders. And if you think the world deserves a glimpse of your curatorial talents, the share icon's also got a Publish option, which lets you post your (and others') gems online.

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

Excerpted from Peter Meyers' Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders. Copyright 2010 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Read more Atlantic Technology Channel book excerpts.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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