This post is part of my “Twitter clients roundup!” post read more here
First off, Timelines. Birdsong allows you to configure multiple timelines, saved searches, and lists on your home screen in any order you wish. A flick of the action bar at the bottom of the screen reveals 4 options, favorites, profile, settings, and accounts (we’ll touch on accounts later). Selecting settings will bring you straight to the timelines option. You will see your current timelines in the current panel. By default home, mentions and messages are showing in that order, and that is how they will be displayed on your home screen. You can add lists and searches to the list of timelines by clicking the plus button at the bottom. I had a list of tech related tweeters already made from when lists were first announced on twitter, last year(?). I added that, dragged it to the top (which determines the order they appear on the home screen) and returned to the home, to take a look.
It wasn’t what I expected, when you add or remove a timeline, its not simply the “home” panel that is changed, but the entire application layout. You will notice (if you haven’t already) the top of the app shows icons for home, messages and mentions, with a small colored bar, under the currently selected pane. Adding a timeline adds another icon to the mix, and the order, top to bottom that you set your timelines in the settings, is the order left to right, they appear in. Not was I was expecting from the description on the website, but not a real issue in the grand scheme of things.
Second is integrated picture viewing, twitpic was the reason I got a smartphone, though there are many alternatives, until I see a good reason to switch to yfrog, or one of the other few services, I will be sticking with twitpic. This is a pretty common feature of most twitter apps, it simply, upon clicking the tweet in question brings you to another pane with the full tweet and a decent sized thumbnail of the picture. tapping the thumbnail will bring you to another scree with the picture increased in size but still not the original, clicking the action bar will reveal the option to view the original photo in its full resolution. This in turn loaded the integrated browser, with an image not much better looking than the image in the app, but it did load the users twitpic page.
Next up are threaded conversations, if you reply with a mention to another user, the tweets back and forth will be marked with a small “speech bubble” icon indicating this is part of a conversation. Clicking the tweet will bring you to a screen showing the tweet, the same as the twitpic screen but, with a link below the tweet saying in reply to @someuser. Tapping this will load up a threaded conversation the same as your integrated text messaging on windows phone 7, with the most recent message at the bottom.
Direct Messages are also threaded but in a slightly different format, all messages from one user will be grouped together with the most recent thread at the top, clicking a certain thread will reveal all the messages between you and the other user are laid out similar to the text messages again with the most recent message at the bottom.
A neat feature of Birdsong is the ability to lay out geo tagged tweets on an integrated Bing map right inside the app. twitpic integration is again a pretty common feature across all apps and platforms at this point and it almost required for a good app, and its here, so don’t worry, simply click the camera icon while tweeting and choose from your saved images or take a new one. Follow links with the integrated browser, its not as full featured as internet explorer, but does have the option in the action bar to view the page in IE.
The status bar I mentioned earlier shows each timeline you have added, along with a number showing how many unread tweets are in that timeline. A few other minor features are the ability to view users profiles in the app, and that the theme of the app is directly linked to the theme you choose for your phone, something not all apps in the marketplace offer.
One other thing I wanted to touch on was the ability to be logged into more than one account at once, Birdsong does not allow this, but does keep track of your accounts in a list which you need only click the desired account under the accounts page, in the action bar. Doing this will reload all the timelines and rearrange your configured timelines and settings for that account. Refreshing was quick, and changing from screen to screen panel to panel was responsive.
One complaint I and a couple others in forums had was the ability to mention another user on the fly by typing the @ symbol and seeing a list of users you follow. Push tile notifications are not in this version (1.0) but Birdsong promises to add them in version 1.1, hopefully they can deliver, because tile updates are a great feature of Windows Phone 7 and its a waste to not take advantage of them.
Overall I give Birdsong 3.9 Home Runs out of 5 (since I did most of my testing at the Blue Jays game last night). Its a good app with one or two features that stand out but also missing some basic features, that after a while I started to miss from my previous twitter app.