It seemed fitting that when I went on Twitter this morning I noticed that it had been updated to a new version. The new version is noticeably different, seeing as the Twitter feed is now on the right hand side, and all other information, including follower requests, and trends are listed on the left hand side. In addition, the area to post a tweet is also on the left hand side, whereas before it was located on top of the twitter feed. Additionally, when I updated my Twitter for iPhone app a few days ago, I noticed that the interface of the app had noticeably changed as well. The symbols/buttons are the same for both applications so they have very similar representations. I also think it gives the site a much more clean and digital-type look.
Moreover, it’s interesting to think about how Twitter will continue to change in the future. I can’t even imagine what Twitter will look like in years from now, and what kinds of features have been added. I think about how Facebook has evolved and changed drastically over the years and I really think the possibilities are endless for social networking sites.
And I have to admit, I never thought I would jump on the Twitter bandwagon, but I’m really happy that this project forced me to do so. I couldn’t imagine my life without Twitter, seeing as it has become the main way that I access information on a day-to-day basis. I also have found that I like Twitter much more than Facebook and have replaced my preference of Facebook with Twitter. While don’t tweet every day or even very often, I check my Twitter feed multiple times throughout the day and reply to any @ mentions that I get from my friends. I have obtained 53 followers and am currently following 98 accounts. So slowly but surely I am constructing my networked invidualism and online identity, which will only continue to expand in the future.
I recently found out about a specialized Twitter app called UberSocial. Up until now I have just been using Twitter on my computer and through the regular iPhone app (I’m not as “Twitter dependent” as most people are), so I was intrigued to see what this app was all about. I looked to their website to find out more information, in which I found out that the app works not only on iPhones, but also on Blackberrys and Androids. The website claims that UberMedia (the maker of UberSocial and another specialty app called Echofon) “makes it easier for users to find, follow and communicate with others on Twitter and other social media platforms.” I went ahead and downloaded UberSocial. I had to authorize the app to access my account, and informed me this application can: read tweets from your timeline, see who you follow and follow new people, update your profile, post tweets for you, and access your direct messages; which is similar to how the regular Twitter app functions. However, this app allows you to customize it by choosing a color scheme that you like, which differs from the default theme of the regular Twitter app.
UberSocial was also a bit more pervasive than the regular app. After I chose a color scheme, a message came up telling me to follow UberSocial on Twitter and to provide an email address so that they can send information about service issues and product updates. Since I don’t really care to know all this information, I decided not to follow UberSocial. Once I declined, another message came up asking to follow UberSocial just for news and updates, which I declined again. I personally found it annoying and didn’t like how the app itself had a social/interactive function on Twitter because I simply wanted to use it as a service.
Once I was all logged in, my Twitter feed immediately came up. While it has similar features as the regular Twitter app, there are a few differences. First, it shows account names, @ mentions, links, and hashtags in a different color than the main text of the Tweet, which I actually really like. Also, instead of the toolbar of options on the bottom, access to everything is located on the top of the screen. It also features advertisments on the bottom, which is a little annoying but tolerable. The biggest difference between the regular app and UberSocial is that it has a whole hidden toolbar of options. I clicked through most of the buttons and found that UberSocial is definitely more advanced than the original app. There are a ton of different types of settings that you can choose, including account settings, tweet settings and performance settings. It seems to give the user a lot of control over how they want the app to run and certain information or actions. While I can definitely see why many Twitter users would want to use UberSocial, it is just a little too intense for my liking. Everything that I would want to do on Twitter can be done with the regular app, so I’m not sure if I will continue to use this or not.
The activity element is accessible through the tab at the top of the Twitter timeline, and it is also featured on the right-hand side listed under trends and who to follow. This new activity facet allows you to see the favorites, follows, retweets and more by the people you’re following. Now that the activity tab contains all this real-time active information, Twitter has changed and condensed your ability to view your own tweets that were retweeted and @ mentions into one tab under your account name (before, there were two separate tabs for retweets and @ mentions). While I don’t mind the structure changing to condense all the things that are pertinent to your account into one place, I really can’t stand their new activity aspect. I think it coincides with the desire of SNS, like Facebook, to be more public and pervasive. Recently, Facebook has added a real-time activity feed onto the side of its main page, showcasing every comment, “like,” tagged photo, post, recent friends etc. that your friends make while you are accessing the site. While Twitter already has a real-time Twitter feed, it has never included any additional information of those you are following except for their tweets. More importantly, every move you now make (i.e. what posts you favorite, who you choose to follow, what you retweet, etc.) is showcased to the people who follow your account.
This definitely represents the more public shift that social networking sites are moving towards. The current settings that SNS are implementing make already publicly available information/activity into being even more public without the consent of its users. This basically demonstrates the concept of data mining, which is the tracking of online activities. The things you now do based on the structure of SNS sites like Facebook and Twitter are tracked and presented to others on those sites. This also brings in the concept of reputation management, which entails that we can actively manage what we do online, because Twitter has moved toward a direction where our control of online privacy seems to be dissipating. I personally find seeing everyone’s activity annoying, and I similarly don’t want my activity to be showcased to my followers. It’s disappointing because I’ve liked how Twitter never publicly included activity information like Facebook does, but now it seems to slowly be moving down that path.
I’ve found that I really love the Twitter app on my iphone. It’s incredibly easy to set up and use on my smartphone. All you have to do is provide your username and password and then it automatically shows you the real-time news feed ticker. In order to refresh the twitter feed on my iphone, I simply have to slide the news feed down via the touch screen. Twitter on a smartphone basically works the same as it does on a computer, except that it is a smaller and more simple version. You definitely need to be familiar with the twitter lingo and processes, however. The “@” symbol at the bottom of the screen allows you to see if anyone has tweeted at your or mentioned you in their tweets. Similarly, you can see if you have any direct messages through an envelope symbol, and there is also a convenient search engine that you can use to find a topic or name throughout the entire site.
Tweeting on the app is just as easy. By clicking the icon in the upper right-hand corner, it brings you to a page that allows you to add a new post. Again, it is extremely unfussy and clear. When twitter is used on a computer, you add a tweet at the top of the news feed, whereas this separates it as its own entity. Still it allows you to do all the same things as the online site does, including tweeting at other people, using hashtags, attaching images and providing a location. It also conveniently shows you how many characters of the 140 that you are using, so you can make sure that it doesn’t go over the limitation.
When attaching an image or video, you can choose from one already on your phone or you can take one while you’re on the go. I think this is very convenient because often times you take a picture on your smartphone and then want to share it on twitter, and the only way to do that online is to email it to yourself and then post it from your computer. With the app, you can post the attachment straight from your phone which is a much better alternative. I will definitely be utilizing this more to tweet and not just to keep up with my newsfeed.