There are two major criteria I have for a Twitter client, given the way that I use Twitter.

1. Keep track (and hold on to a lengthy backlog) of unread tweets.

2. Keep certain tweets out of my main timeline but still accessible to me when I’m ready to go back and read them. (ie Not simply “muted” or “blocked”)

I discovered last year that Tweecha did one very well. Months later, I’m pleased to report that it also does the second very well.

I wrote last year about the Android Twitter client Tweecha’s superb ability to retain thousands of unread tweets that I could catch up with later (with careful attention to detail on my part). It can’t be simply left for days on end like Yoru Fukurou, but it’s a mobile app that expects to close itself, unlike a desktop application that can sit running as long as the computer is on.

Since Tweecha is the only Twitter client I found that will live up to the demands of criteria #1, it instantly became my primary Android app. I was so happy with how it handled unread tweets (given mobile constraints) that it took me a while to explore all its features and realize that it also mostly satisfies criteria #2 with some tweaking (although again, not quite as well as Yoru Fukurou).

It’s the only app I’ve come across that even remotely handles one of my two criteria, let alone both. It’s not quite Yoru Fukurou for Android, but it’s as close as it gets. Additionally, with active development and keeping up with Twitter’s changes and newer features, I’ve actually come to enjoy reading tweets on my phone just as much as, if not more than, on my laptop. This has never been the case before.

Tweecha is highly customizable… so much so that it can seem a little overwhelming. I haven’t even tweaked every little thing that I could. The “choose to keep your position in the timeline when you refresh” option was the one that sold me, as it allowed me to load new unread tweets even when I wasn’t behind in reading tweets I already had loaded in the app. (Criteria #1) I don’t know whether more configurable options were recently added, or whether I only recently discovered them, but Tweecha’s current “mute settings” allow such specific customization that I can almost imitate my Mac experience of filtering tweets.

I can now save Blue Jays baseball tweets to read later (not simply mute/block) while still reading non-baseball tweets in real-time… all in Tweecha. The key is Tweecha’s finely-controlled mute settings. Most apps are all-or-nothing when it comes to muting. Either your app has blocked out these words/users, or it hasn’t. Tweecha allows me to apply (or not apply) my mute settings differently in different parts of the app. So, I can have spoilers muted from my main timeline only, while reading tweets from a Twitter list in a different tab which is not muted.

If I can do this, then surely you can customize Tweecha to do what you want/need it to do for your particular way of using Twitter!

Here’s how I have configured Tweecha to customize my tweet reading experience:

  1. Choose keywords, users, hashtags to mute
  2. Create a Twitter Blue Jays / baseball list for those users I’ve muted
  3. Use Mute Settings options to
    • Disable mute settings for viewing Twitter Lists
    • Enable mute settings for viewing my timeline (if we’re behind on baseball) or disable mute settings for viewing my timeline if I’m caught up and don’t need to avoid spoilers.

How I use Tweecha *most* of the time (when we’re caught up on baseball games):

I simply make sure that Mute Settings for my timeline are disabled (unchecked), and all the tweets come flowing in my main timeline.

How I use Tweecha during a live-airing baseball game, until we have finished watching the recorded game:

I have mutes enabled for my timeline, but disabled for lists. (In fact, mutes are always disabled for lists. I always want to see baseball tweets if I’m viewing my Blue Jays Twitter list.)

During the game, I read my regular Twitter timeline as normal. I can be caught up to real time knowing that baseball tweets (those containing particular keywords or from particular users) will be muted from this view. At the same time, I can be reading my Blue Jays Twitter list in another view, only reading as far as where ever we are in the game recording.

Since, as previously mentioned, Tweecha has excellent unread tweet management, I can be refreshing this Twitter list tab even if I’m not caught up on reading all its tweets. I simply scroll a little bit at a time throughout the game to simulate following the game on live Twitter. When I have finished watching the game, I simply keep reading the Twitter list until I’ve caught up to the same point in time as my main timeline. Then, I can go back into mute settings, uncheck timeline muting, and continue reading all tweets in my normal timeline.

The last 5%

Yoru Fukurou is really a 99.9% solution (in terms of how well it works): all the tweets from people I follow are collected and held somewhere in the application, marked as unread until I read them. Once or twice a year, a tweet might show up in my timeline that is actually a spoiler. This is usually because the language of a tweet is ambiguous or innocuous enough not to get caught by my filters but, in context, it’s obvious to me that it’s about the Blue Jays game. A simple “Blew it again” tweeted by a Toronto sports fan around the time the game should be ending is a total giveaway to me, even if not to my keyword filtering. This is the only potential flaw in the system, and the failure rate has proven to be incredibly low. It works.

But, relying on Yoru Fukurou means relying on my laptop. And, though I’m late to the game compared to many people, I have come to quite enjoy my phone. It’s more likely to be on me (and easy to get to) while out and about and especially while traveling; it can connect to cellular data service; it runs more modern and updated Twitter clients that incorporate Twitter’s newer features. So, while Yoru Fukurou operates exactly the way I want it to when I use it, it’s not always the application I can or want to use.

My Tweecha solution has technical limitations that only bring it up to more like a 95% solution:

It can’t run, non-stop, in the background collecting tweets without being prompted to do so.

It requires attention, but at least my phone is almost always on me and I’m usually able to manually connect to Twitter frequently enough.

Because it employs muting and not filtering, there is a very specific group of tweets I’m liable to miss.

During game time, Tweecha is muting tweets from my main timeline and showing me tweets from a Twitter list (certain set of users). If someone I follow who is NOT on my twitter list tweets about baseball in such a way that it is muted as a spoiler, I will not see that tweet. This is unfortunate because a tweet about baseball from someone that I follow who isn’t a “baseball twitter” person is exactly the kind of tweet I want to see! For example, this could happen when a friend or collegue who isn’t really a baseball person gets excited about the Jays’ playoff run. They’re not “baseball enough” to be on my baseball list, but their tweets about baseball during a game will be muted.

I have a semi-workaround for this, too: another list! I have a list with a small number of family, close personal friends etc. whose tweets I want to see, no matter what. Periodically, I view and refresh this other Twitter list (not subject to muting) and would be able to see those baseball tweets there. It is another “thing to do” manually, however. And, I already have an efficient way on Yoru Fukurou to notice these few, errant tweets that slip by (by anyone, not just people on this short list). So typically I’ll just get those tweets from my laptop. But in theory, this would at least give me access to a subset of the tweets I’d miss.

This refers to another way in which I use Twitter on Yoru Fukurou: designating certain tweets as higher priority by filtering into tabs which show an unread number. I choose to have a search tab for people tweeting to/from/about Joe as a tab, a tab for “deals” that are tweeted that might be time sensitive, and a tab for tweets from mostly family members so I can keep up immediately with their tweets. Most twitter clients provide notifications for things about YOU, but not necessarily notifications for anything you can dream up. (A hit for a search result, a tweet about another user etc.) In fact, these are not notifications from Yoru Fukurou, either. But, given that these tabs are always collecting new tweets and showing the unread count, they function like notifications when I glance at the app.

Tweecha does have the option to “favorite” a user and receive notifications whenever they tweet, but only if you have the native Twitter app installed (to provide the underlying function, I believe). Furthermore, the settings warn you that this uses a lot more battery life. And, it requires an internet connection. Instead, from the Twitter website, I have chosen to receive SMS notifications of Joe’s tweets (as you can do for any individual user) which uses neither any extra battery draw on the phone nor any kind of wifi/data usage. But, I don’t do this for my entire shortlist which I can set as a filtered tab in Yoru Fukurou, nor is this a replacement for hits in a Yoru Fukurou search tab.

To the future, and beyond!

Yoru Fukurou is gives me the most customization, despite being (and feeling) like an “older” Twitter client. When Apple releases a major update to Mac OS, Yoru Fukurou shows signs of life with a small update making sure it’s still compatible. At least, thus far it always has. As it is, I rely heavily on another app that at least has come out and said it’s no longer supported, so I know I can’t upgrade my current laptop until I find an alternate solution for that app. This may mean that my four-year-old Macbook Air is not destined to be replaced with another Mac product. The two applications really tying me to Mac OS are Yoru Fukurou, which at least will work on the latest Macs and Picasa Desktop, which runs neither on the current version of Mac OS, nor on retina displays.

With the recent announcement that Chromebooks will now have access to Android apps via the Google Play store, I have been contemplating whether a Chromebook, or even high-end Android tablet could be the successor to this machine. Apps like Tweecha, which come very close to replicating my Mac applications, make this a not-immediately-ridiculous prospect. This is why I’m perhaps expending a little more time and energy than one would expect evaluating my apps, pushing them to their limits, and seeing exactly how functional I can make them.

I’m very pleased to report that Tweecha is definitely one of those powerhouse apps that comes so very close to replicating all the power and features I’ve become accustomed to in a powerhouse desktop client. Especially if you’re looking to create and customize your Twitter experience, I really suggest checking it out! It seems up to the challenge. :)

App Links:

– Yoru Fukurou (Night Owl) - https://sites.google.com/site/yorufukurou/home-en

– Twitpane - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.twitpane

– Tweecha - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.sinproject.android.tweecha