Moving From Twitter to – Mobile Clients Mobile

On Friday Ryan Sarver, Twitter’s Product Manager for the Platform / API team dropped a bomb on third party Twitter app developers with a post on the “Twitter API Announcement” Google Group that included the chilling line “…developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience,” he wrote. The answer is no.

Sarver’s statement was echoed  by recent changes in Twitter’s terms of service. Techcrunch did a comparison of the new and the old TOS and it’s pretty clear that Twitter wants general purpose third party client apps to go away. Existing apps can stay for now but their position seems precarious.

Regardless of whether Twitter brings the hammer down on existing apps, independent developers can’t be pleased and I suspect that at least some will move their efforts elsewhere.

I use Dabr (mobile web), Gravity (Symbian) and TweetCaster (Android) for almost all my interactions with Twitter.  If those apps stop working I’ll be really annoyed.  Twitter’s own mobile web apps are pretty dire, there’s no official Symbian app and the Android app doesn’t work on my Motorola i1, which is stuck forever on Android 1.5.

I  think a lot of Twitter users are starting to look at alternatives to the service. I know I am. In addition to the uncertainty around the apps I use, I don’t like supporting companies that jerk their partners around.  As a Twitter alternative‘s seems to be the leading candidate. It’s open source, offers a superset of Twitter’s feature set, has a substantial user base and a fair number of third part clients (list).

So I’ve been looking at mobile web and app clients.  Symbian is covered as Gravity already supports StatusNet and thus On Android it looks like I have a choice of Seesmic, Twitdroid, an official StatusNet client and several others that I haven’t heard of.  I’m trying  Seesmic.  It seems to work well although the process of adding account is not at all intuitive. Here’s how:

  • Start Seesmic, press the Android Menu key and choose “Accounts”
  • Press the Plus Sign icon to add a new account
  • Chose “Twitter Proxy”
  • Enter you nickname and password
  • Enter in the “REST API server:” box
  • Uncheck “Use XAuth” and leave the “Search API” box empty
  • Tap “Sign In”

That leaves the mobile web. has added a mobile view to their web client.  It doesn’t look very good in Opera Mini (first image) but seems usable. Mobile browsers should automatically be detected.  If yours isn’t there’s a “Switch to desktop site layout.” link at the bottom of the desktop web page. There’s no separate URL for the mobile version, the switch link uses JavaScript to set a cookie which drives the mobile overide.’s mobile view is very heavy for legacy mobile browsers at 469 KB, including 348 KB in JavaScript. At least everything seems to work with JavaScript disabled.

I also found, a fork of Dabr that supports (plus Tumblr and WordPress). I don’t really know anything about it. The developer’s about page isn’t very revealing  and I can’t find the source code – so use at your own risk.

I’m going to trying moving to as must as possible.  It can cross post my notices (what calls Tweets) to Twitter. The biggest problem is that most of the people I follow on Twitter either aren’t on or if they are they aren’t active so I’m going to be:

  • Reading my Twitter timeline in dabr and my one in the mobile web client (I’d love to find a mobile web client  that offers a merged plus Twitter timeline).
  • If you dual post everything on both services like I do, I’ll unfollow you on Twitter so I don’t see the same update twice.
  • I’ll post new Notices (Tweets) to which will cross post them on Twitter.
  • Gravity or Seesmic will notify me of new mentions and messages on both services.
  • I’ll reply on the same service that the mention or message originated on using Dabr or the mobile web client.

I’m hoping you will join me on (I’m @yeswap there too) so I can eventually drop Twitter entirely.

2 thoughts on “Moving From Twitter to – Mobile Clients

  1. As a Canadian and FOSS advocate, is a subject very close to my heart! :)

    For Android there are at least three apps with support:

    1. Twidroyd (or whatever they’ve had to change the name to)
    2. Mustard (for hardcore open source zealots)
    3. Seesmic (I think…?)

    • Thanks Andrew,
      I’m using Seesmic and it works pretty well with both identica and Twitter. I tried Mustard but it seemed unable to connect successfully withTwitter.

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