Saturday, July 11, 2009

A good match: Twikini for Windows Mobile and my Dopod838

A lot has changed with my web habits in the last few years, and I've noticed more and more that Twitter is forming the majority of the web content I consume, especially on the mobile.

When I upgraded my phone last year, I switched from my WM dopod 838 to a Nokia E71. For me the choice was both due to the experience and the hardware - basically, symbian S60 worked better as a phone, and WM worked better as a PDA, and unfortunately for the Dopod, the phone part was more important to me at the time.

Now, I'm considering moving back to the Dopod 838, at least as a mobile web device, after I've found a really good twitter client available for Windows Mobile called Twikini, which works well with how I like to use my WM device.

Scroll wheel FTW!
Being the twitter addict that I am, I almost impulsively wake up and immediately check my twitter feed in bed (you've all done it - Don't you judge me!!!). Currently, I perform this task on my 1st Gen iPod Touch (using Twitterfon), which works really well, except for one exception (which shows off the depths of my laziness): I have to use two hands to scroll through my feed*!

Why does this matter? Well, because I surf/view my twitters while lying on my side in bed, which means that I usually have one arm under my pillow or under the covers (especially important in winter, where its good to limit the number of limbs exposed to the cold to the bare minimum). Also, if you've ever lost grip of your phone and have it smack you in the face, then you understand why body positioning is important when using a portable device in bed! Anyhoo, in the case of one-handed operation (oh grow up), this is where the Dopod 838/Twikini combo shines.

Twikini on my Dopod838 - Scrolling is easy with the little scroll wheel on the side. In portrait mode you can view 4 tweets at a time
(conveniently positioned for my thumb)

With Twikini (which offers my feed in a convenient running screen), all I have to do is use the scroll wheel on the side of the Dopod to scroll up and down my feed - the scroll wheel also works as a select button, so when I'm just passively surfing through my feeds, selecting links is a breeze and completely one handed. Unfortunately, if I do have to create a tweet or otherwise need to input some text, I will have to use two hands since the onscreen keyboard built-in to WM is not at all finger-friendly, and the Dopod's QWERTY keyboard is of the landscape variety. But again, Twinkini comes to the rescue by providing some intuitive and clever UI choices to make tweeting a breeze, and addresses one of my pet peeves with WM devices.

*Okay, so that's not strictly true - I have mastered the "hold with 4 fingers and flick up and down with thumb" manouever, but after a while it does get uncomfortable, and my thumb isn't especially flexible, so having the thumb moving around in such an unnatural position does hurt after a bit.

Keeping a firm grip
With twikini, there are several options available for replying or DMing - you can either select the option on the menu screen, or simply scroll to the twitterer u wish to converse with, and tap on the left arrow key to @reply, or right to DM. This simple UI choice might not seem that exciting, but its a godsend for me, since I loathe having to switch between using my QWERTY keyboard and the touchscreen to interact with my devices.

Twikini on Dopod in Landscape mode: In this position, keeping the device in your hands really requires two of them (but I needed one of my hands for taking the pic)

This may not be an issue that people really care/think about, but it really matters to me since I'm one of those people that constantly has their phone out and surfing the web while walking. Because I'm on the move, I like my phone to be as secure as possible in my hand/hands. Now in the case of the E71 and the Dopod 838 (in portrait mode), keeping a firm grip with one hand is a cinch because both fit equally snug in one palm. However, in the case of the Dopod in landscape mode (QWERTY keyboard in use), a firm grip can only really be achieved with two hands, so in that usage scenario, I prefer that both of my hands are holding onto the Dopod (thumbs on the keyboard) as much as possible - and with Twikini and its left/right shortcuts for @reply and DM (correction: right arrow actually performs a RT, not a DM), I can interact and with my twitter friends whilst keeping my device stable in both hands.

Anyhoo, if you want to try Twikini, they have a 14 day trial period available so you can see if you like it, at

A friend (@jodiem) did note some issues with scrolling, where use of the inertial scrolling sometimes selects a tweet instead, so its good to take advantage of this trial period to see if the device works well for your device and use case scenario. But I'll say that having used Twikini back when the app was still in beta, I've found the developers to be pretty receptive to suggestions, and are also good with updating the features on their program, so it pays to make your voice heard and provide constructive feedback.

Finally, before you all "get up in my grill" (fo shizzle my nizzle - wow, did I really say that?) - I do know of (and will be reviewing in turn) alternative clients for other platforms, such as Gravity for Symbian s60, and of course, twitterfon and tweetdeck for the iPod/iPhone. I'll also get around to reviewing some web-based, mobile-optimised twitter clients like dabr and slandr, but do let me know if there are others floating around, and I'll check them out too. Cheers!

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