Review: Seesmic for iPhone

Originally posted at the Shufflegazine Blog (no longer exists)

The awesome people at Seesmic finally got around to launching their iPhone application last week.

I’ve been a fan of Seesmic from rather early days. To me, they edged out TweetDeck as the Desktop Twitter client to have at the time, having launched support for multiple accounts and integrating Facebook support before anyone else did. Since then I’ve moved on to Seesmic Web(I’d recommend it any day considering it doesn’t use Adobe AIR. But I digress…)

I’ll leave the app comparison for another day, but I think Seesmic’s iPhone app’s first rendition is quite good overall.

The first thing that struck me about the app was the seemingly blazing response time, both in terms of loading new information and response using the touchscreen. By this I mean that a lot of apps I use (I’m not talking just Twitter apps) are effectively hung until their update/reload is complete — this does not seem to be the case here. While I wait for the latest tweets to be updated, I can still navigate around the app freely.

Let’s talk unique features. First up is the panel view. This is a fairly neat way of using one app to encompass multiple services. The panels are cleanly organized and easy to navigate. You can even setup a panel for a specific twitter search you follow, making it accessible with one click or swirl. You can navigate between panels by either using the panel button or merely side-swapping them. I thought it was cool that when you are looking at the panel, the faded screenshot is an actual live version of the feed on that panel.

Currently, Seesmic’s app allows you to quickly sign in to your Twitter, Facebook and Ping.fm accounts. Sure there is a facebook app, but from a “feed” point of view, Seesmic does a good job. I will not be surprised to hear additional services being integrated, least of all Foursquare, which Seesmic recently incorporated into their Web client. Seesmic also integrates with Evernote, allowing you to send tweets directly to Evernote (in addition to e-mailing them) if you want to save them. Seesmic also has a separate ReTweet tab in the main window, allowing you to view all twitter-style RTs in your timeline as a separate feed.

In comparison to other clients I’ve used though, I see a few lacking features.

Firstly, I’d have thought that it would have the ability for app sync, at least with Seesmic’s Web client &mdash for unread tweets, messages and the like. Seesmic’s app is also missing the conversation view, which is bizarre considering this is a standard feature on other apps and Seesmic themselves introduced this on their Web client. It is almost infuriating if you’re trying to track back on a conversation if you have to keep tapping the ‘in reply to’ button to see each tweet. This should have been covered from the get-go.

I also miss having unread counts. This is probably more or less a luxury feature, but I think we as a crowd are just used to having that. I’m perfectly okay with not knowing this for the regular feed, but not having this for @-replies and DMs is unnerving. They also did not include in-line previews (which adds clicks, not desirable on a phone app).

Having said that, I’m quite happy with their first version. I can’t be impressed enough with the speed of the app, and for a first run, they’ve done a good job. In my history with Seesmic, I find that they listen to their users and are quite dynamic in terms of releasing new features, so I expect the same to carry over to their iPhone app. If that happens, don’t be surprised if Seesmic’s iPhone app becomes the go-to app for aggregating social networking, beyond just twitter.

Chirag Desai @Chirag