Wednesday, March 21, 2012

glƏƏk! Twitter Client for Windows Phone 7 review

Users of Windows Phone 7 devices will find no short of Twitter clients on the Marketplace to play with. With establish brands like Twitter and Seesmic seemingly unable or unwilling to focus on the platform, third party developers has come in droves to fill in the missing gaps that Microsoft has failed to provide with their Twitter integration.

That's not to say Microsoft didn't do a good job integrating Twitter into Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, but there is so much more to Twitter than just replies or uploading pictures to Skydrive. After all different people use Twitter differently. With Carbon, Rowi and Mehdoh leading the charge, it is fair to say that there is a healthy amount of Twitter clients on the Marketplace.

I have been trying out a new Twitter client that has somehow slipped through attention. glƏƏk! (yes, it is spelled that way) is a pretty and fast client. It is built to fill in a small niche, aimed at users who are looking for something 'fun' from a Twitter client. As this is a version one release, I wasn't surprised to encounter a number of bugs that will hopefully be ironed out in the future. Developed by the people who brought us the useful ...I'm a WP7! app, glƏƏk! (or gleek! as it should be called!) is the only Twitter client on the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace that brings you a random tweet (or so they claim). It is beautiful, and it is very fast.

The random tweet thing, which the developer dubbed as Peeks, might be a gimmick and you will be glad that it can be switched off completely. Still it is an intriguing feature for those who like to explore Twitter randomly. glƏƏk! claim to fame however, in my opinion at least, is their extensive number of options available to the user. One I particular like is the ability to choose which tab to show whenever the app starts. These includes the start screen, peeks, timeline, mentions and retweets. Orientation can be locked to either portrait or landscape. Sadly there are no options to change the font size with this release.
The UI can also be changed somewhat, with two modes of presentation available for the user to customise how the timeline of tweets should be shown. glƏƏk! also support conversations mode. For now at least, there is no way to specify which image host to upload to when attaching images. On the upside you can add text effects to your tweets such as bubble text or upside down text. It's silly, and one I would never use - but hei, it's there if you were ever so inclined to annoy your fellow followers.

As a Windows Phone 7.5 Mango compatible app, glƏƏk! also features full Live Tile support. Unfortunately like most Windows Phone Twitter clients, Live Tiles do take some time to update. It is nice that the developer has given us an option to enable only Live Tile support for either mention or direct messages, or both. This is great as I normally use the built-in Windows Phone 7 Me tile to keep track on mentions while using third party clients for direct messages.
In addition to regular Live Tile support, you can also pin almost anything to the front screen. These includes short cuts to the compose screen, direct messages, trends, searches, individual lists, individual Twitter users and different accounts (yes, glƏƏk! support multiple accounts). It is one of the few great Windows Phone 7 apps that truly embrace the concept of Live Tiles, one I hope other developers will attempt to emulate.

While glƏƏk! doesn't support in-line image preview, images embedded on tweets are easily identifiable and viewed. This to me is preferable anyway as it prevents images from clogging up the timeline as with other clients that support in-line image preview. You can select different kind of retweet styles you prefer. A context sensitive menu also pops up if you hold onto a tweet, giving you an option to quickly reply, retweet, quote or share post. Profiles of Twitter users are easily accessible where you can follow or unfollow as you so wish. Unfortunately there is no way to add or remove users from individual lists.
I like glƏƏk!. It is fast, sleek and well designed. In fact it has more or less replace Carbon as my Twitter client choice for Windows Phone 7 - that's just how good it is considering how much I've raved about Carbon. However there are a couple of issues with it that prevents me from completely switching and using it exclusively. The lack of ability to reply-all is a huge issue, one that I dearly hope will be fixed with the next release. It also lacks any features to mute tweets based on keywords or source - something which no Windows Phone 7 Twitter clients yet has, though it has been confirmed that it is coming to Carbon in the future.

Update: Liquid Daffodil, the developer behind glƏƏk!, has informed me that mute feature will be coming to version 1.2.

Right now, glƏƏk!! feels more like an open beta than a full release, but it still offers significant amount of features and performance advantage over other third party Twitter clients. The developer has been very pro-active in seeking suggestions and feedback, which is more than I can say for most third party app developers. It is definitely an app that I believe will be well received by the Windows Phone 7 community and Twitter power users.

glƏƏk! is currently under beta testing and will be available to buy soon for £1.49/US$1.99 from the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. An ad-free trial will also available. You can follow me on Twitter at @jonchoo

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