In the last 15 years, the BlackBerry brand has gone from being a range of pagers from Research In Motion to a re-branded company offering the latest in smartphone handsets. The latest BlackBerry 10 handsets such as the Z10, the Q10 and soon the Q5 are in the hands of the technologically savvy with their personal, business and brand Twitter accounts as well as much more. App Developers have seized on this and a massive range of business and pleasure applications are available on the BlackBerry World.
Today, we're going to take a look at some of the best and worst Twitter applications for the BlackBerry 10 range of handsets. I've been using the Z10 handset since the day it was released, I've installed some of the best (and worst) Twitter applications that take the social media website that one step further. Far beyond what's offered as default by BlackBerry themselves.
Twitter for BlackBerry 10
Why Is It So Bad?
Let’s be absolutely honest before we get into the review of some of the best apps out there. I personally think that BlackBerry took a big step back when they installed the stock Twitter App onto the BlackBerry 10 handsets. My last device was a BB Torch 9800 and the offering on that OS6 device was much, much better than what we've here.
Firstly. Most importantly, the new “official app” had originally removed all ability to have multiple accounts and it was partly due to the backlash of hardened multiple-Twitter account holding addicts that this was eventually re-introduced.
The look and feel of the Twitter App is very similar to it’s mobile website. I find the interface quite easy to use and I now use it for one of my accounts and you'll see why with Blaq in a few minutes. The more useful features of Twitter are available on the application including photo taking and/or uploading, adding locations and the usual re-tweeting/quoting/replying.
There are BETTER APPS out there though and we're going to review some of them over the next few minutes.
You MUST Have Twitter Installed
Something which really does bugbear me though on the BlackBerry 10 devices is that somewhere, Twitter, Facebook and all the other major social network players have agreements with either BlackBerry or the mobile phone carriers. This is because you no longer have a choice of whether you want the software or not!
On my BlackBerry Z10 on Vodafone (UK) I've deleted Twitter many times and the result is that when you next go to update your phones operating system you'll have a little bit more of a download which you're obligued to install. If you've a BlackBerry 10 device and you find that after you've deleted a few pre-installed programs that you magically re-install them. Do what I do and drop all the shortcuts into a folder marked “Bloatware”.
My choice at the moment is Blaq, native and Built For BlackBerry app from Kisai Labs.
This is an app that offers you real-time streaming of your social media feed when you've it open and a choice of update frequencies when you've it minimised as an active frame. There are very few mobile Twitter apps that offer that at the moment, including many of the enterprised focussed offerings like Hootsuite.
The developer has made good use of new BlackBerry 10 features such as it’s swipe gestures. Your single main screen is your accounts live stream but a simple swipe to the right brings up your detail menu including your favorites, mentions and Direct Messages using simple to understand icons. A star, the @ symbol and an envelope.
Almost every feature of Twitter is available on Blaq. You can update your profile and mugshot as well as translate Tweets if you're trying to be multi-national and mute someone if they're being a bit obnoxious. You can also now schedule your updates from within the Blaq interface, something first started by HootSuite some time ago.
One problem that Blaq is on the way to solving is how it handles you being away from your handset. So far it's only working in real-time while you've it open as an Active Frame which from my experience means that it gets a bit duff once the screen sleeps to save precious batter power. One way which you can get around this is by taping the time bar (shown as a green bar at the top on the image) and this fasts forward you to the most recent posts.
It's however –. In my opinion –. Started to slow down in terms of the speed of loading and delivery. Profile pages take longer to load, real-time streaming has become a bit more of a bulk update every 30 seconds or so. This might of course be something that it just because of the amount of junk on my handset. It could be something that's being looked at.
The application is now limited to 2 accounts per installation. This means at the moment I've resorted to using the official Twitter for BlackBerry 10 app for one of my accounts. The pop-up when you go to add further accounts does suggest though that this isn't the long-term plan.
Neatly for BlackBerry takes a different approach to those that use it’s apps by developing Smart Feeds for it’s users. Before we explain that we need to talk about the app as a Twitter client.
When you first load up Neatly and when you go to add new user accounts the process is as easy as authorizing any new app to your Twitter account. I now have 3 accounts registered and it allows you to switch between the two. If you regularly switch between accounts during the day though you might find the GUI clunky and requiring a software reboot at each switch. Indeed when I'm running the software from 3G either I become impatient or the software has difficulty loading because I've to reboot several times to get anywhere.
There are two rare features that might appeal to persistent Twitter fans though. The first is the Custom Feed which is exactly as it says on the tin. You can choose what users tweets you can see on this feed and even down to the types of Tweet you can see such as those with pictures or with URL’s.
The other is your Smart Feed and this is where the intelligence of the Neatly software comes into play. It won't simply offer you a timeline. One based on what you usually read. Your Timeline isn't even likely to be in a chronological order if you make a point of read all the tweets from a single user.
Neatly also takes a new approach to user profiles. Giving you masses of new information about your effectiveness as a business or just how many RT’s you've received recently.
For the more experienced user you can think about side-loading Android applications to your BlackBerry 10 devices. If you're a fan of the HootSuite social media dashboard then it's possible to use your Windows PC to install it. Being a HootSuite user on the PC and my Android tablet I tried this but found that the responsiveness of the interface is intermittant.
Apps that “Also Ran”
I've also been testing out a number of other social media dashboards and apps on BlackBerry 10 that are notable at not being very good. I've found a few that are merely re-directs to the Twitter webpage or have some substantial flaws.
Firstly is a bit of a brave experiment and even the developers acknoledge that the intention isn't to release a fully fledged Twitter app. Tweetian is quite possibly the first attempt that I know of to take the idea of “porting”. An Android app to BlackBerry (as many have successfully done, including Skype) and do the same with a Symbian operating system app.
The developers, BB4 Software, admit that the idea is more of a proof-of-concept than actually releasing the app as a popular contender. The app itself has loaded on my device but I was never able to log into any of my Twitter accounts. Whatever I try has the software hanging at the log in screen but others do report that it works.
Using the Twitter Mobile Site is also something which is okay if you've a single account. It's nothing over the official Twitter for BlackBerry 10 app. Would you rather use the pre-loaded software first?
BlackBerry Can Only Improve
If you've your BlackBerry 10 smartphone then you'll know how quickly both the operating system and the apps update right now. The developers are working hard for your few dollars so that you can have their latest program.
Personally I've gone with Blaq for my social media needs. Once it supports three Twitter accounts then that's all I'll need for my tweeting-needs and then it'd just be a case of finding that perfect Facebook replacement.
If you've a favorite BlackBerry 10 Twitter App then please let me know below. I don’t just review free applications either. Blaq and Neatly are both cheap paid apps. I'll always review anything new here.
This Article Was Written For
The BlackBerry 10 Series
BLACKBERRY Z10 16GB BLACK FACTORY UNLOCKED GSM
Amazon Price: $749.99 $349.99
(price as of Sep 17, 2013)
All of these Twitter Applications were tested on my own BlackBerry Z10 and I tested them personally.
I've found that the BlackBerry Z10 is a great phone but not without it’s flaws. If you're familiar with an Android device and want to try something a little different then take a look at my article on the BlackBerry Z10 handset.