Blaze for Twitter Review

Blaze for Twitter Review

Apr 29, 2015

Blaze for Twitter is a new-ish option that brings a new way to consume and produce tweets. AS there can never be too many options, we were happy to take a look.

The intro sequence is humble, inviting the user to add a Twitter account. After tokenization and such, one gets an idea of the customization options available, as well as a look a the user interface. It has a clean default look, with definite lines and bold coloring. The layout option which pops up at the beginning gives one a large say with regards to tweaking the exterior. Off the bat, it is possible to adjust the way Blaze handles images, going from full all the way down to thumbnails. After that, the background color — light or dark — can be selected; there is also a theme option, which allows the user to select from several colors.

Beyond that, the app can be set up to be read from the top or bottom, and one can also pick long service to use and the frequency rate. When it’s all said and done, the app does give the user a bunch of options to make it his/her own. The app clearly pays attention the Material Design, and overall, it is a pretty vibrant-looking application.

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On the functionality side, the app incorporates a lot of the tools we’d expect in a microblogging client; one can slide through specialized screens for home, @ replies, direct messages, lists and trending topics. Each tweet in one’s stream can be manipulated individually via small symbols, and again, we get the core tools: reply, retweet, favoriting, muting and sharing. Working on an individual tweets brings even more options, like the ability to make a note or text someone a tweet. Retweeting gives one the option to quote, copy or do a simple retweet (I love the overlay). It is possible to work on one’s profile from within Blaze too.

The cherry on top? Blaze handles multiple Twitter accounts.

There’s not much to dislike; if I am to nitpick, it would be that I would have liked a “shoot-to-the-top” button, such that one can get up quickly. An option to tweet to simultaneously to multiple accounts could be handy on occasion.

All in all, it’s a great option, underscored by the option to use the ad-supported option, or the premium build. Either ay, it’s a client to appreciate, and well worth the risk-free try.

Klyph Pro for Facebook Review

Klyph Pro for Facebook Review

Aug 29, 2013

A true sign of Facebook’s reach is that developers work hard to make better portals for it than it can. This is usually a good thing, as it gives us an opportunity to check out apps like Klyph Pro for Facebook.

The first thing that will probably standout is how the app looks. After signing in with Facebook credentials and giving permission for posting and chatting, the shop goes straight into the newsfeed. It is easy to appreciate the clean, expansive look. There seems to be an emphasis on space that was quite appealing.

Additionally, the option set that governs the look of the app was interesting in its diversity. We all know howklyph1 Facebook looks with the familiar blue accents. What about green? The option to be a bit adventurous is there.

The customization options spill over into the amount of data that can be allowed to flow into the feed. Friends and pages can be made to restricted from the feed via tabs, which are accessible themselves from the menu slider button in the top left of the viewing area.

The navigation keeps Facebook’s familiar elements at the forefront, with the seamless ability to post and comment. Pictures and images take center stage. The developer clearly states the influence of Google+ on the appearance of the app, and yes, in my estimation, it is indeed there. There is a delicate balance that I think had to be maintained when doing stuff like this, and I think the developer traverses it relatively comfortably.

Klyph is a work in progress, and as such is missing some things that could make Facebook heavies howl (like chat). I was a bit disappointed that the “@” tagging convention doesn’t work — how else can I make fun of people and make sure they see it? I understand this is an API issue.

It packs a lot, missing some goodies as of now, but it works well with what it does have, and does provide decent access to the world’s most popular social joint.

Carbon for Twitter Releases for Android, Not to Be Confused With the Backup App of the Same Name

Carbon for Twitter Releases for Android, Not to Be Confused With the Backup App of the Same Name

Feb 7, 2013

While third-party Twitter app development has slowed to a crawl, some developers are forging ahead with their plans to improve on the Twitter app experience on Android. Meet Carbon for Twitter, a stylish new Twitter app that’s just released for free.

This app is primarily designed for phones (Nexus 7 users will get a dialog prompt saying it’s not optimized for their device yet), and it’s meant to provide an experience that focuses on the column at hand. Swiping horizontally switches between differnet columns, with a minimalist options bar, profile button, and new tweet button at the bottom.

This app should not be confused with ClockworkMod’s Carbon, which has also recently released to Google Play, and allows for apps to be backed up, even without root access. It’s possible to backup Carbon with Carbon. Joy!

The app already has over 50,000 downloads meaning that since Twitter claims they’ll only authorize 100,000 user tokens, the app’s days may be short-lived. What Carbon’s developers plan to do at that point is unknown. So get it on it quickly.

Flipster Tries to Improve on the Facebook App Experience

Flipster Tries to Improve on the Facebook App Experience

Aug 22, 2012

Flipster is a light shining through the darkness for Facebook users. Let’s be honest, the default Facebook app kinda blows. The HTML core and interface just are not designed to work well on Android. Even on new devices, it goes from awful to barely tolerable. However, that is where Flipster comes in. Similar to Tweet Lanes, Flipster is built around Android 4.x design standards for a smoother experience on newer devices. Many if not all of the features of the official app are here: the ability to view the main news feed, friends, events, messages, notifications and more.

The app is still a work in progress: on the Nexus 7, link and comment views below a post take up a lot of space. Also, while there were sme issues with disappearing posts, these appear to be a general Facebook problem. Not something with the app itself. Flipster is available in an ad-free version from Google Play, and an ad-supported free version that can have ads removed through completing Tapjoy offers. Seriously.

ShortBlogger for Tumblr Review

ShortBlogger for Tumblr Review

Apr 3, 2012

The official Tumblr app is free. Why do we need ShortBlogger? Well, we still use third-party Twitter clients despite the free first-party app, don’t we? Even though Tumblr’s app has its roots in a third-party client called Tumblerette that they then bought and re-released as their own app on iOS, then brought to other platforms. The problem with these official apps is that they tend to be driven by the internal philosophy of the service, instead of being extensions of how users actually use the services.

ShortBlogger’s greatest stregnth may come from its support of animated GIFs. Tumblr users love animated GIFs and are a big reason as ot why the venerable format has stayed alive in a world of YouTube videos. The app handles them better than most WebKit browsers do. Any GIFs come with an icon saying they are a GIF, and must be tapped to view, but they work perfectly with this method. The official Tumblr app does work with GIFs, but they cause a bit of a slowdown because it loads them in-line. The app just feels much smoother and slicker than the offiical Tumblr app does.

New posts come with advanced options for posting to specific blogs, scheduling for specific times, adding to the queue, saving to draft, or posting as a private post. Audio posts can be posted using either URLs or from files uploaded from the phone itself. Photos and videos can be taken from the app, uploaded from the gallery, or from an external link. However, reblogs only offer posting to a specific blog, even sharing to Twitter is not given as an option. The app makes it possible to answer questions and respond to messages, something the official app has made it difficult to do.

The thing I’m impressed with when it comes to ShortBlogger is the way that it feels like it was actually designed by someone who uses Tumblr, and wanted to design an app to use it in the way that people actually use Tumblr. The braintrust at Tumblr have been guilty of taking the service in their own direction (particularly when they implemented new restrictions on messages last year), not really directing the service in the way that other users tend to use it, and while the official app added some of these features that ShortBlogger has now eventually, it felt like they still weren’t on the pulse of what users were actually doing. This third-party app gives that feeling.

Thankfully, both this and the official app are free, and while ShortBlogger does come with ads (with an ad-free version also available), we all gotta make money, eh? This app is well worth testing out for Tumblr users.

Voxer Walkie Talkie Review

Voxer Walkie Talkie Review

Jan 31, 2012

Every day technology gives me new and better and more exciting ways to communicate with the people in my life. But it does of course come at a cost. Phoning people costs paid minutes, and texting costs to send and receive. There are also times when I need to impart a lot of information to someone but either don’t want to type it all out on my phone, or don’t want to disturb them with a phone call. Wouldn’t it be nice to leave a voice mail but skip the step of calling their phone?

Voxer markets itself as a walkie-talkie app for phones. Essentially it offers users the opportunity to leave messages for their friends that can be retrieved any time the recipient is free to do so. Messages can be text, but the better feature is the voice option. Hold down the button and talk freely into the microphone. No need to save the message – as soon as the record button is released the message is queued in the recipient’s inbox. I’ve used this feature to co-ordinate detailed plans while I’m walking and can’t text and the other person is getting ready to meet me and can’t be on the phone at that moment. It lets them listen to the message whenever they have a few seconds, without dialing into their voicemail box.

Even better, it really does function as a walkie-talkie if the recipient is in the program at the same time. There’s no need to say “over” at the end of each message – they are all time-stamped and play in order. They’re saved for quite some time, so I’ve also enjoyed going back and listening to random conversations I have had.

I really feel like I need to stress that this is a free app. I don’t know how much money it saves, using data to send messages vs paying for phone minutes, but I know that it has saved me time. Also there is something very appealing about using my phone as a walkie-talkie. It is great, and I wish more of my friends had it. If I could get them all to download it I actually think I’d make very few direct phone calls. There simply wouldn’t be a need to.

I have experienced some bugginess in it though. Or rather I should say my test partner did. He found that sometimes, rather than playing back the audio, the app would just freeze or play static. And I found that sometimes I couldn’t hear the messages he left me unless I took my headphones out and listened to it through the external speaker. A bit odd, but it doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for it in the slightest.

ChannelCaster Brings Together Web Sites and Social Media for News Delivery

ChannelCaster Brings Together Web Sites and Social Media for News Delivery

Sep 21, 2011

OneLouder Apps are expanding beyond their range of traditional Twitter and Facebook clients; recently, they’ve started launching apps for browsing through content posted on social media and the web as a whole, with SportCaster and now their newest app, ChannelCaster. this app is designed to aggregate content for users that is located in specific channels for users to browse.

The app contains a variety of curated channels right from the outset covering a variety of topics. Users can then search for other “Tier 1” channels consisting of curated content from a variety of sources, including site RSS and Twitter feeds. My favorite channel? “Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things.” These channels can be added to the main screen of the app for browsing at a later date.

However, the most powerful feature of the app is the ability for users to build their own channels. By combining web searches, Twitter feeds, and RSS feeds, they can build their own channels with the relevant content that they want to see. For example, I created a channel for Texas Rangers tweets and sites that displays information from the people that I consider relevant to the team. It is possible to share these channels publicly within the app as well. RSS feeds can be searched from within the app, though it is possible to manually add RSS feed URLs below by copy and pasting them in to the app when building channels.

This app serves as a conduit to the vast amount of information available on the internet, and tries to find ways to pare it down and focus it to display as much relevant information as possible. While this is a practically impossible task, ChannelCaster tackles a lot of the issue in an interesting way, and offers users remedies for getting the information they want in the way they want, as well as discovering new sources through the channels provided by the app. ChannelCaster is available now as a free download.

SportCaster Brings Sports and Twitter Together Just in Time for Football Season

SportCaster Brings Sports and Twitter Together Just in Time for Football Season

Aug 31, 2011

Football season is about to be upon us! This is opposed to football news season, where young men playing a dangerous game for well below market value are scolded for being caught taking extra money or selling their awards, and where billionaires argue with millionaires about how they should properly divide pennies amongst themselves. No, the time for actual gridiron-crunching football is just about on us! OneLouder, developers of TweetCaster, have introduced a new kind of Twitter app to help football fans take in all the analysis, commentary, and even the snark that is posted on Twitter about their favorite sport.

SportCaster offers 5 sections for users to explore: Conversation, where users can get the latest tweets from analysts, experts, and athletes, and filter by specific terms to focus on specific comments. By default, general experts are listed, though users can also add experts and fans for specific teams as well. There’s a scoreboard view to keep abreast on all the latest scores, and can click on a specific game to get the latest tweets from experts on both teams. The Schedule view allows users to look in advance at teams’ games, and to view the chatter about the two teams. Standings is just a basic view of the recent standings and rankings of each league. Finally, there’s a Fantasy section, where users can search for information and advice that will help benefit their fantasy football teams.

This isn’t just an app for tweet consumption without contribution, though. Twitter is all about conversation, and sharing, so SportCaster includes options to reply and retweet tweets discovered in the app. Right now, SportCaster only supports pro and college football, but over the next year as the other pro and college leagues start up, they will be added to the app as well. SportCaster is available now for iOS and for Android.

TalkBox Voice Messenger Brings Instant Voice Messaging Between Android and iOS Users

You know what problem with text messaging is? IT involves text. Tricky, tricky text. Sometimes things are just hard to put into words. Plus, we use so many services that are character-limited like Twitter and SMS that can make what we want to convey difficult. Or how about sharing silly voices and impersonations? How can Twitter handle that? It can’t! It just cannot! If only there was some kind of app that let us send voice messages to each other! Because I wouldn’t write a post that brings up a problem without suggesting a solution, I introduce for your perusal TalkBox.

This app allows for users to quickly record voice recordings and send them to other users of the service, discovered either through Facebook account linking or from the user’s contacts. By holding down on the push to talk button, the user’s voice is recorded and then immediately sent to the other user in the conversation. They can then send messages back, and users can listen to the messages. The app can either play back through the loudspeaker or phone speaker by holding the phone up to the ear. Users can send more than just their voices to their friends and other TalkBox users, as they can also geotag their messages and include pictures. It’s kind of like the best walkie-talkie ever. Unlike phone calls, voice messages can be left for later listening or to be responded to at a later time. The app also works as a way to tweet voice messages, something few Twitter apps support on any platform, largely due to the lack of easy built-in audio sharing like how photos and videos can easily be recorded and shared.

TalkBox is an app with definite potential usage, featuring cross-platform support with iOS users of the app, and is available for free from the Android Market.

Theme Thursday – Tha Plus

Theme Thursday – Tha Plus

Jul 14, 2011

I must confess that I’ve become somewhat obsessed with Google+ after my first week of using it. As the newest kid on the social networking block, sure, it’s got a few kinks to work out, but I think Google is on the right track. Google+, for me, does a lot of what Facebook doesn’t, and while it seems to lack a lot of the simplicity that makes Twitter so easy to use, the level of interaction I’m already getting keeps me coming back. It’s true, I’m completely hooked on it.

Now, if you find that you are as addicted to Google+ as I am, you might want to take a closer look at this week’s theme, Tha Plus, which carries over the unique look of Google+ into your Android device.

Tha Plus is a custom theme for ADW Launcher, a home replacement utility. ADW Launcher allows you to quickly and easily freshen up your Android device’s look and feel simply by downloading and installing custom themes that change the icons, wallpapers and other elements of the graphical user interface.

Tha Plus comes with more than 620 custom icons, covering just about every app you could possible have installed on your device. And, just in case your favorite app doesn’t have a custom icon, the author of this theme has mentioned that he is more than willing to design one for you.

You’re also getting several wallpapers, a graphically enhanced action bar and custom dock styles to complete the look of this custom theme.

Tha Plus is available on the Android Market for US$2.99. However, there is a free version called, simply, Plus, which comes with a much more limited number of icons just to give you a feel for the theme and decide whether you wish to pay for the whole shebang.

If you’re into the look of Google+, this might just be the theme for you!

AskTheLocals Review

Ask The Locals is a social networking tool with a difference; rather than connecting you with your friends, work colleagues or like-minded strangers, Ask The Locals connects you to specific places. You post a question through the app, then tie that question to a locale. Say, for example, you wanted to know if a bar you were considering going to was busy; post a question and anyone using the app in the bar would be able to give you an answer.

It’s a clever concept, presented to the user with the minimum amount of fuss. Once you’ve registered, you can ask questions, review the responses you’ve been sent and answer any queries that have been posted about where you are. The menu screen is uncluttered, with big icons and asking and answering are accessed with a single tap. Options and customization are kept to a bare minimum; your only real choices are whether to allow anonymous responses to your questions and whether to show notifications when you receive answers.

You pinpoint your question using an in-app map system, which is a little too vague for the precision that the app needs. You can zoom into locations, but it doesn’t allow you to tag your question to an actual business. You can mention the business in your question, but the app really needs a better way of making sure the question you’re asking is getting to the right people.

As with all social networks, Ask The Locals depends on a strong user base and at the moment, the major concern about the app is that it doesn’t have that. I’ve been using it for the best part of three days and despite asking numerous questions and checking in everywhere I went with my phone, I’ve not had a single response or a question to answer.

If Ask The Locals can get over this stumbling block and find a larger audience, then it has the potential to be a huge success. Because it’s so targeted, and because it’s entirely created by the people who use it, it stands apart from other geo-based networking apps. With a big community behind it and a better implemented geo-tagging system, Ask The Locals could well be massive.

[Updated] Android TweetDeck Beta Test Begins This Week

[Updated] Android TweetDeck Beta Test Begins This Week

Aug 12, 2010

When it comes to Twitter apps, everyone has their go-to favorite. Something about the style, feel, or just even blind loyalty keeps many of us using different Twitter apps for different reasons. But for power users, those that keep their finger on the social pulse or many different beats at any given time, there’s usually only one solution for those users: TweetDeck.

This week, TweetDeck announced that they’re opening up their Beta Test for their Android app. Their announcement is pretty clear that this venture into Android isn’t simply a port, it’s not TweetDeck on Android, but rather Android TweetDeck, and it’s going to have some new features that will lead the development path for the future of their mobile product.