Tweet Lanes review - a new twist on twitter, but still a work in progress

Tweet Lanes for Android fits in very nicely with ICS design, but is that enough?

Tweet Lanes launched on Android earlier this month and somehow managed to muscle its way into a plenty-crowded category of Twitter clients. There are a few things that Tweet Lanes does differently that immediately sets it apart from the norm.

The main thing is that all outgoing tweets are pumped through the same context-sensitive text box. no matter if you're starting a new tweet from scratch, replying, or retweeting. This is done by selecting which tweet (or tweets) you want want to interact with, and the top bar changes and bottom tweet box adjust accordingly. Secondly, Tweet Lanes can use a device's volume up and volume down keys to navigate through feeds. 

Functionality

TweetLanes.

Tweets are organized in tabs, starting with the standard ones (my tweets, @ replies, timeline, favorites) then moving into lists. Tapping a user link goes to their profile page, from where you can start following and flip through their tweets, mentions, and favorites. Advanced functions like filtering retweets and replies from lanes, monitoring multiple accounts, reporting spam, blocking users, and attaching location and images to tweets are included and working. Tweets that link to videos or images will also show in-line thumbnails, which is always welcome. 

TweetLanes.

Unfortunately, many features aren't yet implemented, and apology pop-ups result when users try to activate placeholders. Some of these disabled features include the creation of new lanes, managing friendships, and even the settings menu. There doesn't seem to be any section for direct messages, nor are there system notifications for mentions, which may be a dealbreaker for many.

In terms of performance, I wasn't entirely thrilled with how long it took to load threaded replies to selected tweets, but otherwise, Tweet Lanes ran very smoothly on my Galaxy Nexus with stock 4.0.1 

Style

TweetLanes.

The overall user interface of Tweet Lanes falls very nicely in line with the ICS style: underlines indicate active lanes, while the top bar hosts familiar icons such as search, back button in the top-left, and the app menu in the top-right. The dev claims to "adhere strictly to the Android Design guidelines" and I believe it. No doubt Tweet Lanes will grow into Jelly Bean in due time. The neutral grey color scheme with blue highlights is very readable and not overly flashy. 

One particularly cool feature is VolScroll, which allows users to scroll up and down through feeds with volume keys. In a lot of ways, this feels more natural than swipe-scrolling, even if the animation isn't as fluid. If there were some accelerometer controls for switching lanes, then you'd be able to full navigate Twitter one-handed. While the smart context bar is neat and all, it feels like Tweet Lanes is relying on it a little too heavily - for some tasks, long presses, double-taps, and swipes work perfectly well.

The good

  • ​Polished UI fits into ICS perfectly
  • Context-sensitive tweet box is a unique twist
  • VolScroll is neat

The bad

  • Many key features still a missing
  • Over-reliance on contextual tweet box

Conclusion

While Tweet Lanes is promising, it still needs some time in the oven before it's fully-baked. That said, it's commendable on the developer's part to release what is basically a beta app, but the app isn't clearly labeled as such in Google Play, which may feel like a bait-and-switch for those hoping for something full-bodied. A devblog would go a long way to roping potential users into the beta culture and providing feedback to upcoming features. Hopefully this early look will work out as a mechanism for drumming up excitement prior to a full launch. Carbon is coming to Android soon, and assuming it's as awesome as it was on webOS (if not moreso), Tweet Lanes will have some catching up to do. 

The plan for Tweet Lanes in the long haul is to add premium features which will be unlocked through in-app purchases, but early adopters that get in on Tweet Lanes now will get all of those features for free later on. For that reason alone, it's worth checking out the app, especially since the app's currently free. I would have to see the list of premium features later on to know if they're worth it, but if nothing else, Tweet Lanes will make a name for itself as a Twitter app that melts seamlessly into the native Android UI. 

Download: Tweet Lanes

 

Reader comments

Tweet Lanes review - a new twist on twitter, but still a work in progress

21 Comments

I like Tweet Lanes as well as Boid. Both are very good but missing a few key features. Boid doesn't remember my last tweet position. Tweet Lanes isn't as smooth as Boid in scrolling on my G Nexus. I'm hoping Carbon is the next great Twitter client.

Tweet Lanes runs great on my Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.1.1, and even though it is still beta I ditched the official Twitter app for this. I have been testing this app since it started and love it. The Ice Cream Sandwich look and feel is what turned me on to it.

I really like many of the features. Still deciding between many apps, Social Scope, Boid, and Tweetdeck, but liking this. Now waiting for a widget to replace Tweedeck's. Nothing good about Tweetdeck except for a widget. Lol.

I found VolScroll a waste and silly to trademark. The effort to scroll with the volume was far greater than simply using your finger on the screen.

I prefer something like twicca, which lets you actually designate functions with the volume presses. For instance, I can jump right to my lists from hitting volume.

Speaking of lists, in its current form, changing lists really puts the lanes into tweet lanes, and is the equivalent of trying to get from the fast left lane of the highway and merging across 12 lanes to get where you need to go: not good at all.

I also don't care for light themes and it's ironic to toute ICS guidelines when it doesn't have a background friendly to the first ICS phone.

VolScroll is an optional input method. I mainly use it when navigating my feed whilst eating with the other hand. You will be able to turn it off in a future release if it's not for you.

To quickly get to your lists, swipe the tab headings. That will jump you across your feed very quickly.

A dark theme is definitely coming very very soon. Thanks for your feedback!

I've used alot of Twitter apps:

Boid
Tweetlanes
Plume
Tweetcaster
Uber Social
TweetDeck (TweatDeck & TweetDark)
Seesmic
HootSuite
The Official Twitter App (the worst of them all)

And I have to say that I like the direction and development race we got going here with Twitter apps on Android. But, what effect will Twitter's tightening the reigns on their api's have on this burst of 3rd party innovation?

As for Boid vs. Tweetlanes, first one to get notifications wins. I have both installed along with Scope. The one I keep coming back to though is TweetDark. Buttery smooth and straight meat and potatoes for Twitter.

With you on TweetDark - no muss no fuss - simple, clear, clean and smooth - but I'll keep Tweet Lanes installed for a while if for no other reason than to keep track of their updates. Very excited to try Carbon, however.

Have been using Boid solely until I saw a few Google Plus mentions about Tweet lanes and wow didn't think anyone else would be able to make a holo themed twitter app without looking identical. Tweet lanes is slightly refreshing due to the unique features mentions and the dev should keep increasing this feature set.

Damn it just feels good to have choices. Now lets see what this Carbon hype is all about.

I love this app.. well.. the idea of the app. It just fits into the ICS theme so well and what it does do, it does well i think. I dont knwo why almost all twitter clients are missing the scroll-able widget though. I dont get it. For me, thats the ONE must have feature. I like to have all my info on my home screens.

I have big plans for widgets in Tweet Lanes. From my perspective, I didn't include them in the initial release simply because I seem to have underestimated how many people wanted them!

I learned about this app from a...ah, *other* Android blog about a week ago and have been using it since. It has totally replaced the official Twitter app on my phone.

Love how Chris is in here actually talking with his apps audience. Reminds me of the Android days of old. Keep up the good work, I'm enjoying it & looking forward to coming developments.

Hey Chris..beautiful app! I encountered an issue though.. thought I'd tell you...

When I go to a user's profile and choose the 'tweets' tab/lane, my sent tweets appears there first. Sometimes the users tweets don't load at all. In one case I had to navigate away and back to get it to load the correct tweets. Maybe something you can look at..

Edit: the correct tweets load after pulling to refresh.

Also, when my phone orientation changed I lost what I was typing in the text box!

BTW..the free premium offer is smart!