So you're hooked on Twitter but find that going to the website is a real drag. In steps a desktop application that brings your Twitterverse right to your computer without your browser.
There are plenty of options, all freely available to download, with TweetDeck and Twhirl (or the Seesmic Desktop variant) probably being the most popular. But that might be about to change.
Why? Well because one of the most popular iPhone Twitter applications, Tweetie, has just made the leap from phone to Mac desktop. Instead of a Twitter application that runs within Adobe Air, this is a native Apple OS X application that promises to get your tweets to you with little effort on your behalf.
Download the 1.4MB application, punch in your Twitter login and away you go. There is some customisation to be had, but perhaps not as much as you'd like: you can't set the frequency the software checks for new updates for example, however you can change the font size the messages are displayed in (between 10 and 14pt). Then there is what image service you want to use and URL shortening service with the new controversial Digg service included for good measure.
The setup also allows you to run multiple Twitter accounts, no doubt appealing to people who run a company/group and personal Twitter account at the same time. Adding extra accounts is as easy as typing in your Twitter name and password and you can then tweet to your heart's content with the software letting you dynamically switch between accounts at the press of a button, rather than having to do anything silly like log out.
Elsewhere you get the ability to dim previous tweets, preview short URLs before you open them and select whether or not you want to have a highlight status within the app for unseen messages.
Moving on from what you can and can't do, what about the user interface? Well it's very polished, just as you expect a Mac application to be.
The software is separated into four areas all from the single column interface. Selecting an icon from the left-hand side sends that page whizzing to the top. The options are: all your messages in one combined feed, your replies/mentions, your direct messages and a search feature that lets you search the Twitter world.
The search returns back as far back as it can in within a set number of tweets and although we weren't going to count every one, judging by the amount of scrolling we had to do to get to the bottom it has got to be around the 1000 marker. It would have been nice if the search data updated automatically or that you could save a search so you could watch a trend.
Having a search function in the application, like TweetDeck, is great as you can tap into what the world is saying very quickly, although without multiple column support you can't track search words as effectively.
Within your main Twitter areas you can see who you are talking to, with their profile pic clearly marking who is saying what. Clicking on said icon allows you to then see their Twitter stream, their replies and favourites as well as their profile details, with links through to the Twitter website. You can of course also direct message or reply to them.
So what about actually tweeting? Pressing the tweet icon or replying to a tweet pops open a new text box which you can then type straight into or even better, drag an image into. Hitting the link (rather than just pressing return on your keyboard - a small annoyance - but the Cmd+return shortcut is easy enough) sends the tweet live and it is as simple as that. The text box allows you to switch between accounts as well as rather cleverly shorten URLs within the application rather than having to go off to one of the services.
But there is a catch: a $19.95 catch (with a 2-week offer at $14.95). A free version is supported by advertising and so far the advertising hasn't been too intrusive (on day 1). Whether this is a case of a soft introduction to get us hooked before upping the ads and raking in the cash, time will tell.
A slick interface that saves you running the memory hungry Adobe Air means this is lean, fast and good looking. Escaping Adobe Air also means you can close the window without losing the application completely, with it instantly springing up from the dock, which leads us to the next point.
If there is one feature that it is missing at the moment it is a notification option, such as Growl or even just a light in the icon, to tell you how many tweets you have to read (like Mail). That said, the first update has already been issued and there is an active community suggesting features, so we are sure these options won't be far off.
Other than that it's fairly top notch. Yes we would like to see the ability to change the frequency with which it checks for tweets and the ability to reconcile the account at any given moment, but we presume these are both on hold so makers Atebits can measure the demand and not let anyone down.
Should you switch? From our play so far it looks to be a killer app for the Twitter user that is interested enough to download an app, but not interested enough to be a TweetDeck power user. And seeing as that is probably most Twitter users, for Mac owners this is likely to be a popular option.
UPDATE: The company has now released a new 1.1.1 update of the software that adds both a notification icon to the Dock icon (although it is red which is a tad hard to see against the purple background of the logo) and notification support through Growl for those using the service.