TweetDeck versus Seesmic: battle of the Twitter apps

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TweetDeck and Seesmic are desktop clients designed to make communicating on Twitter and managing your accounts easier.

Here they go, head to head: TweetDeck version 0.26 versus Seesmic version 0.4.

Look & Feel

Both TweetDeck and Seesmic are built using the Adobe AIR platform, and have a similar look and feel.

Seemsic appears to have more subtleties designed to make it easier to decipher tweets from multiple accounts at once, yet neither application is hugely customisable when it comes to the overall look.

If you only run a single Twitter account then seeing how applications handle multiple accounts won’t matter to you, but if you’re a “power user” handling two or more active accounts, you’ll find Seesmic offers more options for handling them.

Both applications let you view columns for each account’s tweets, replies, direct messages and so on, but Seesmic also allows you to view a single stream of messages from all your accounts at once, ordered by the time tweets arrive.

Whether this works for you depends on how you like to view accounts, but at least you have the option. TweetDeck (currently) doesn’t offer this.

Core Features

Replying

Replying to tweets is easy with both clients, but Seesmic can be set to automatically use the most logical Twitter account to send that reply. That is, if you reply to someone whose tweet appears only on your “Account1” Twitter account, Seesmic will reply from that rather than from any other account. That’s a timesaver.

Direct Messaging

Like replying, sending a direct message is very easy. There’s not much to choose between the two clients when it comes to replying, except that Seesmic again will employ some “intelligence” to ensure the right account is used to send the reply.

Retweeting

Seesmic marginally beats TweetDeck in that you can set the default retweet format separately for each Twitter account. That doesn’t yet appear in TweetDeck, though it doesn’t take much to change it from the “RT @name” format if you need to.

URL Shortening

Both clients offer a range of URL shortening services to use by default when tweeting long URLs.

Seesmic offers authentication for some account-based services, if you need that.

Tweet shortening

Both TweetDeck and Seesmic offer a basic level of “tweet shortening” — that is, they’ll “txt spk”-ify your message if it’s too long. This could get rather annoying and I think it’s better to craft your messages so that they fit instead of dropping vowels and words, but if you like that, it’s there.

Facebook integration

Both platforms offer integration with your Facebook account, if you have one.

Customisability

I love to be able to customise apps, so how many options do TweetDeck and Seesmic offer?

Without delving intimately into each app’s control panels, it’s fair to say that both offer a fairly high degree of flexibility, given the fact that Twitter is supposed to be simple.

Notifications

Both offer on-screen notifications when new events happen. Annoyingly, there doesn’t seem to be a way of changing where this appears — TweetDeck is top right (which I personally find gets in the way quite a bit) and Seesmic is bottom right (better).

I don’t much care for the audio on either so it’s usually switched off.

The Rest

You can’t really do much to how the interface looks, save for changing a few colours here and there, so if you don’t like columns you’re pretty stuck either way.

Seesmic perhaps has the edge when it comes to slightly more advanced options, but in fairness most people don’t need lots of extras.

Ease of use

Both apps are pretty easy to use once you get used to their particular interface style.

I’ve been using TweetDeck for much longer than Seesmic, so I’m definitely biased. I like the additions in the latest version that make tweeting from multiple accounts (including simultaneously) a pleasure, but I’m sure I could do everything quickly and painlessly with either app.

Reliability

Since both apps are built on Adobe AIR, you’d think that their reliability (in terms of whether they start sucking up memory or becoming unresponsive after a long time of running) would be about the same.

I’ve found the need to restart TweetDeck periodically when it becomes unresponsive or seems to be affecting the overall system. This appears to be a reasonably common complaint which doesn’t affect Seesmic. However, your mileage may vary and everyone’s system is different.

Seesmic feels more stable, but that’s based purely on anecdotal evidence.

Conclusions

So which service is best?

It’s a tough one to call. Both perform admirably as desktop Twitter clients (and beat the web interface hands down), both have iPhone variants (if that floats your boat) and both handle the needs of most power users very well.

Do you want to support the home-grown (British) startup success story that is TweetDeck (which has just acquired some more funding and should mean plenty more investment in development) or the Euro-inspired and now Silicon Valley-based Seesmic?

Try them both out (not at the same time, that might give you a few update problems) and see which you prefer.

Whichever platform you choose, you’ll get regular updates with new features. Stick with it, learn how to use it well and then get on with being a Twitter superstar.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.

Andy Merrett

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