Twitter is unique amongst social networking sites in that it allows a number of different mobile applications, specially on the iPhone, to access its service. Instead of just extending a fully branded piece of touch screen software like Facebook and MySpace does it allows third party developers to compete for the best possible access to the same service. This would, at least in a theoretical marketing framework, be the perfect chance for Twitter to ramp up its brand image, making it appear as an established station in modern communication.
Its choice to let outside companies fight over its market could be equal parts brilliance and lunacy, but that is only from the perspective of a business model. For users it often leaves us puzzled as to where to go to simply log in to our Twitter accounts. New users will be even more puzzled, maybe even forcing them to wonder if it is worth it. Since the actual service is going to be identical no matter what iPhone application you use to do it you really have to find one that replicates the easy of using the Twitter website, uses the iPhone functions the best to make it conducive to this touch format, and does not force you to pay too much for this free service.
Twitbit, a more recently released Twitter iPhone application, matches all the functions of Twitter adequately, but still costs a little more than many people would like.
What stands out about Twitbit, but is not foreign to other Twitter iPhone applications, is that it simplifies the Twitter process down to its important essentials. The bottom task bar specific to all iPhone applications comes in really handy in Twitbit, which shows that the software was birthed purely out of the need to make the Twitter design fit the parameters set by the iPhone. The first tab will be your Timeline and will list the news feed tweets of those you follow. From here you can select a tweet specifically and perform a few functions, such as set a Public Reply, Retweet, or Mark as Favorite. In each of these tweet specific windows you can also choose to actually open the tweet up in Safari or email the link to it using your iPhone email function.
Right next door to the Timeline tab is one for Mentions, which is part of the unique narcissistic self obsession that Twitter often inspires in its users. Here you can see anytime someone tweeted about your Twitter profile, especially a post you may have included. This is an important part of the Twitter information exchange process and it is good that it has actually been maintained here in its own section.
Next to that is Messages and works similar to the way it does on the Twitter main page, yet requires you to load up quite often in the same way the Mentions tab does as well. This section is similar to most of the way the other social networking iPhone application works as the private message system in Twitter is relatively similar. We are also provided with a single tab for Lists, which can constitute a large number of subscriptions for many Twitter users.
Since Twitter rests entirely on a news feed format it is important for this to be maintained in a useful and easy to navigate way in all its tabs. Twitbit does this concretely, though it often has difficult running with perfect speed on the 3G network. The time lapse is not too significant, but for those who check Twitter for business purposes it may not be fast enough for constant reflection. Twitbit will push on you if set to, and this can be a nice addition for those that use Twitter for standard communication. The detailed settings are nice here and allow you to do things like look at your profile, search for people and things, and view trends.
The real question is not how Twitbit is on its own as it is a perfectly reasonable iPhone application that interprets the Twitter service. The big question is whether or not Twitbit is better than comparable applications for the price. The full version of Twitbit is $2.99, yet they have released a free Twitbit Lite version.
The main difference here is that the Twitbit Lite version has banner ads in it and will occasionally run slower. There are little differences between the two so for those only into Twitter in a casual way the Lite version should be entirely accurate.
It is really difficult to say whether Twitbit is going to beat out other Twitter iPhone applications like Tweetings, ChillTwit, or iTweet Reply. Many of these actually include more features from Twitter or makes a much more colorful and customizable experience. In this way Twitbit is relatively plain and basic, but for many this is going to be the right design for quick Twitter exchanges. Over all this is not going to be the best choice for the die hards in the room, but for those who just need a simple place to check their account Twit Bit Lite will do the job.
3 out of 5 – good – worth checking out