By: Hillel Fuld
I recently had a discussion with a friend who claimed that my standards for mobile apps were way too high. He said that my reviews are too critical and harsh on developers and that I need to be more understanding of how much work goes into developing apps. I disagreed. I explained that while I do respect the work that is done by young developers, and I give them credit for that, with all the rising competition of the various app stores, developers have to raise the bar or throw in the towel.
With over 200,000 iPhone apps and over 50,000 Android apps alone, if you are not trying to make the best app possible, in whatever field, chances are you will not make it in this space. That is not to say that if you do set out to make the best app possible, that you will accomplish that. However, if from the beginning, your intention is to make a mediocre application, you won’t go far in this industry.
One example of an app my friend claimed I was too harsh with was the Twitter for iPhone. The truth be told, I am seeing many people on Twitter using it, and more importantly, I got a lot of feedback on my negative review that people were actually loving it. So to those people I say we can all agree to disagree. However, when the new Seesmic was released, it became very clear to me that I was in fact not too harsh on Twitter for iPhone.
Seesmic for iPhone managed to impress me within seconds of opening it for the first time. I had no expectations, other than the fact that I never liked the program on PC and always chose Tweetdeck over Seesmic. As soon as I launched Seesmic, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.
The entire concept of Seesmic for iPhone is completely different than any other app I have ever used, so that is one more possible explanation of why I was so comfortable with this app, that we can disqualify. The premise of Seesmic is spaces. You have an empty screen with large plus signs. When you press one of the plus signs, you can easily add a space, with each screen holding four spaces.
A space can be one of many different social platforms. You can add a Twitter account as a space and the app of course supports multiple accounts. You can then add a Facebook account as a space, and you can also add a ping.fm account as a space. Ping.fm was recently acquired by Seesmic and it allows you to link all your social networks under one roof giving you the ability to update them all simultaneously.
So, that is the basic concept, you have spaces and you can update all your networks from one screen. However, that is just the basis, there is a whole lot more to Seesmic for iPhone. You can add a Twitter search as a space enabling you to perform brand monitoring using Seesmic. This turns Seesmic into more of a business oriented tool as opposed to competing apps, which support search, but not as a permanent solution like Seesmic does.
In addition to a search, you can make your various Twitter lists into spaces as well. This, for me, was the biggest homerun. Twitter lists have become a necessity for heavy Twitter users who follow thousand or sometimes tens of thousands of people. Using Twitter lists, you can organize and follow your Twitter network much more efficiently. With Seesmic, you have one click access to all your lists, something very much lacking in Twitter for iPhone.
You can also add Twitter trends as a space of their own if you want to know what people are tweeting about.
OK, all that was just one layer in, we have not even gotten to the spaces themselves. Before we do that, Seesmic has one more extremely cool feature. Moving or deleting a space is identical to the way you move or delete apps on the iPhone. You press the icon till it starts shaking, then simply drag it around. Seesmic did this brilliantly allowing users to simply do what they are used to, and not forcing them to learn something new. That is what is called usability and an intuitive user experience.
As for the spaces themselves, each Twitter space is basically an entire Twitter app like Twitter for iPhone or Echofon. It includes any and all features found in competing apps. It has it all, including new and old style RTs (with RT or Via), geo tagging tweets, timeline, replies, direct messages, the ability to add photos, multiple accounts support, search, trending topics, lists, favorites, URL shortening, and much more. If Seesmic was this Twitter app only, it would still be a leading app, even without the spaces and the ability to add Facebook and Ping.fm.
The Facebook space has your stream with the ability to Like or Comment on posts. The Ping.fm space is pretty simple with just a list of the various services and strangely missing the ability to add or remove services from within the app.
One other thing missing is the little iPhone popup showing you how many tweets or replies you missed. Right now, when you are on your home screen of Seesmic, there is no way to know if there are new search results in the search space, tweets/replies/DMs in the Twitter space, or posts in the Facebook space.
Besides those two features, I would go as far as to say Seesmic is everything I was looking for in a social networking app. Oh yea, and it is free…
Have you tried Seesmic for iPhone? Were you also impressed? Please let us know in the comments!