I, like a lot of other people, have accounts on a couple of social networks. Most prominent might be Twitter, where we might have more then one account, FaceBook or/and FriendFeed. The last time I looked I counted around 30+ social network sites. That is a lot of updating and keeping up with the news. After all, who wants to miss the latest and greatest 🙂
Thought there are a lot of social network sites around and the publicity around it have risen in the last couple of months, most prominently because Barack Obama has used Twitter and other sites to get the people vote for him (and he has done so very successfully). The one thing that is really (still) missing is the one client to fit it all!
The Quest for the client application starts
In the past I have used TweetDeck as my main Twitter client, because it simply features a couple of really useful functions, but again, it is only for one social network (Twitter) and can handle only one account (for now). So, my quest for a client which can connect to the social universe was still going on.
Then I found EventBox. EventBox has the mantra I was actually looking for, that is “Pack Your Social Networks in One Box”. Great, I thought and started trying it out. After all, it promises to bring together Twitter, FaceBook, a RSS-Reader (with synching to Google Reader) and Flickr support into one box.
Frankly said, after trying out EventBox for a week, I was disappointed, because it does not actually bring your social networks together, but is a client which tries to be everything. It might suite some people, but it did not work in my work flow. See, I am trying to find a client to connect to my social network to keep up with all the news that go on. For me it did not make sense to have a RSS-Reader build in (for that NetNewsWire does a much better job) or putting photos on Flickr. Second, the application costs you $20 (during beta $15). Personally, I would love to pay for a client, but then I would have to have a web, desktop and mobile interface that would sync with each other. That would make sense, and would be a perfect Business model.
Then the other day I have found Twhirl. Twhirl just like TweetDeck is based on Adobe AIR and has been around for quite some time. The main difference between TweetDeck and Twhirl is probably the possibility to connect to multiple Twitter, laconi.ca, Friendfeed and seesmic accounts. Which alone is a big plus, in that it covers 4 social networks that a lot of people use. Especially, Seesmic looks like a promising network and from what I see and hear, will be a big player in this field.
After using Twhirl for some time now, I have to say that I replaced TweetDeck with it. I am now able to keep up with 4 social networks in one client (thought from the architeture, I am sure that adding other networks will be easy to do). Also, the notification window does not only notify me of new Messages (like TweetDeck) but also shows me the messages itself. If you are using Entourage you know those notification windows in the lower right corner, Twhirl also has those. Thus you won’t have to switch to the client just to read what just came in. This is a huge time saver for me!
So, for now, Twhirl wins my sympathy as it helps me save time and lets me read and write messages to more then one network in one application. If the developers add some more networks to it, I believe it can become the social network client for people who want and need to read/write to more then one account.
What about Chat?
Instant Messaging is also another big part of my communication with friends, customers and team members. Be it on MSN, Yahoo!, GTalk, AIM or FaceBook Chat I found that IM is one of the best communication channels to quickly discuss a topic with a fellow developer or get/give help.
As written before, AdiumX is a big lifesaver in this regard as it allows you to bring together all your IM accounts in one client. With the addition of linking in to the FaceBook Chat, AdiumX has a foot in the social network and I wonder if they will expand on it. I could imagine that the developers would add Twitter to the bundle or some other networks.