Android Apps: Tweetdeck v/s Seesmic

21 Dec 2010
Posted by Kiran
Update (07-Sep-2012): Seesmic has now been acquired by Hootsuite and they say "Consumer users of Seesmic are encouraged to explore new tools, apps and features available at Twitter.com". Effectively, what they seem to be saying is that general users should go and find some other client that suits their need and Seesmic will no longer be around for long. With that, I suppose, this comparison is now moot since Seesmic will soon cease to exist as a great option for general users looking for a powerful Twitter Client.

When I first started off on Twitter, Tweetdeck for Desktop was my preferred client. I found it to be extremely user friendly, feature-packed and intuitive. Once I got my HTC Desire though, I realized that the best way to use Twitter is through my mobile phone. Twitter is all about instantaneous sharing of views and opinions and my phone allowed me to do just that; it soon became my primary platform for Twitter usage and I longed for an equally feature-packed Twitter client. I longed for Tweetdeck for Android.

Though I initially used HTC Peep, the in-built Twitter client on my phone, once I discovered Seesmic for Android, there was no looking back. Seesmic had everything I was looking for and was the perfect client for me.

That is why when Tweetdeck finally got around to releasing their client for Android, I found myself in a dilemma. Should I stick with my new found loyalty to Seesmic or should I go back to Tweetdeck?

I decided to compare the two with regards to the functionality that I use most and here is what I found.

1. User Interface

As I have said earlier, the Tweetdeck for Android GUI is much slicker and easier to manage. The concept of columns that can be accessed by simply flicking the screen either to the left or to the right makes interacting with the application very easy. Tweetdeck also provides dots at the top of the screen to subtly hint at the additional columns that are available — this approach, though it may not be very intuitive to a new user, is very classy.

Tweetdeck for Android — Main Screen
Tweetdeck for Android — Main Screen

Seesmic on the other hand has a more functional approach to its UI presentation. Seesmic utilizes a tabbed view which is much more intuitive but far less impressive.

However, with Seesmic you will need lesser number of taps to get most of your day to day tweeting done. Allow me to demonstrate with a few very simple examples:

Simple features such as a preview of an embedded image in the main timeline, or the time of each post being easily visible in the main timeline, all add to Seesmic’s usability advantage.

Seesmic for Android — Image previews
Seesmic for Android — Image previews

Though these may not be huge achievements in terms of usability improvements, they do contribute to making your day-to-day usage of the tool much simpler.

In Tweetdeck for example, you would need to position each tweet at the top of the page just to read the time when it was posted. Alternatively, you could just open the message — but that would still add two additional taps to read the time.

Tweetdeck for Android — Image Views
Tweetdeck for Android — Image views

A similar situation occurs with images. While Seesmic gives you a preview of the image right there on the timeline, Tweetdeck requires that you open the message to check out the image.

These are very simple differences; but they contribute to a simpler user experience on Seesmic.

The UI differences don’t end there.

While composing a new message on Seesmic, it allows you easy access to routinely used Post features such as addition of a picture, shortening of URLs, or adding your location — they are all neatly arranged at the top of the compose screen.

Seesmic for Android — Compose New Post
Seesmic for Android — Compose New Post

Tweetdeck too allows you to do all of these things. However, these controls get hidden behind the keyboard and that means that you would need an extra tap to first hide the keyboard before you can access these features.

Tweetdeck for Android — Compose New Post
Tweetdeck for Android — Compose New Post

Moreover, to shorten the URLs, you will need to press the physical menu button and access the option off of the menu.

Seesmic and Tweetdeck are both very well created programs and provide a good user experience, albeit in their own way. Given that, I think on the User Interface front it is a tie between both Seesmic and Tweetdeck, though I am personally inclined to give Seesmic a slight edge due the functional nature of its UI.

2. Ease of managing communication

Tweetdeck for Android — Me column
Tweetdeck for Android — "Me" column

Tweetdeck has introduced a concept of a single view for all accounts: all updates from all your accounts automatically get consolidated into a single stream. Hence, if you have an account with Twitter as well as Facebook, Tweetdeck will stream all updates coming in for you into a single timeline, which you can conveniently keep checking.

Seesmic on the other hand, requires you to switch accounts and check the update-streams for each individual account.

One more very impressive aspect of Tweetdeck for Android is the "Me" column. The "Me" column provides a consolidated view of all things related to me, the user. Be it replies to me, retweets of me, or any message to me in any other service, they are all consolidated in one column, and that makes managing all that communication much easier.

The "Me" column, I might add, is the single biggest, killer feature that Tweetdeck has over Seesmic. On Seesmic, accessing all this information will need tapping through multiple tabs or screens. While replies and legacy RTs are visible in the "Replies" tab, accessing the new retweets is a painful affair that entails navigating into the user profile and then to the retweets section from there — needs 3 taps on Seesmic as against a single flick in Tweetdeck.

Tweetdeck wins this round hands-down.

3. Widgets

Tweetdeck for Android — Me column
A comparison of widgets

In Android, widgets allow you to make optimum use of the Home-screen space that you have for frequent activities that you perform. The idea is to not have to open the application every time you want to perform an operation.

While Seesmic provides one widget, Tweetdeck provides you with three. However, none of Tweetdeck’s widgets provide the all round convenience of the single Seesmic widget.

Seesmic’s widget is by far the best. Compact, and feature packed, it allows us to directly compose a new post, have look at random tweets on the widget itself as well as open the Seesmic application.

Tweetdeck has a widget per functionality. If you were to use the "Tweetdeck Post" widget, it wouldn’t allow you to open the Tweetdeck application to view the timeline; if you were to use the "Tweetdeck Bar" widget, it wouldn’t allow you to directly compose a post. After struggling with its widgets, I finally just decided to have one icon in my home screen to just launch the Tweetdeck application and then carry out all remaining actions from there.

Here, it is Seesmic’s turn to be winning the round hands-down.

4. Under the hood & other niceties

I also took a look at some of the core functionality that the application comes with, the settings page and the flexibility the application provides you to customize your experience.

Tweetdeck allows you to check your accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz and Foursquare. It has kept its settings page very simple and straight forward. It allows you to have a different setting for each column that you have. This definitely improves the flexibility the application allows.

However, Tweetdeck lacks integration with some of the other services that Twitterers generally use. For instance, though Tweetdeck will allow you to shorten URLs using Bit.ly, there is no way in which you can ask it to use your Bit.ly account to store a history of the URLs shortened.

Seesmic too allows you to check multiple services — not the same ones though. Seesmic provides support for Twitter, Google Buzz and Salesforce Chatter. For a Facebook user, this is perhaps going to be a big drawback. However, I am not a Facebook user and the lack of Facebook support doesn’t matter to me.

What matters to me and Seesmic does provide is integration with services such as Twitpic for Images, Bit.ly for URL shortening and YouTube for videos. You can put in your Account details into the Seesmic settings page and the URLs you shorten or the videos you upload will get tagged into your history on those services. This for me is a critical piece of functionality that is missing from Tweetdeck.

It is for that reason, that I am giving Seesmic the edge here and declaring it the winner of this round.

Update (03-Mar-2011): Seesmic version 1.6 was released yesterday (02-Mar-2011). Seesmic has now added support for Facebook as well, which was missing when I wrote this blog. This only adds to why Seesmic is a better client.

My Verdict:

Seesmic has been a well entrenched player in the Android Market; it has a very good product on offer and it continues to work to make it even better each day. Tweetdeck, though a late entrant, has come up with some very innovative ideas and offers up a very compelling product.

However, as things stand right now, I believe that Seesmic has a better, a more functional product. Tweetdeck is not too far behind but it still comes in second.