I am always on the lookout for a better Twitter client on Android than the official one. Finding one is harder than you'd think. I've tried various alternatives such as Plume and Tweetdeck, but I always return to the official app, simply because it's the most stable and updates the fastest.
That said, it's boring and really lacking in features and configuration options. A new and free Twitter client, Slices – from the makers of Tweetcaster and BaconReader (a Reddit client) – presents your Twitter timeline in a refreshing, data-driven way.
Slice and dice
The killer feature in Slices is the ability to "slice" your Twitter timeline into categories. A slice is very similar to a list on Twitter, except the app automatically creates categories for you, if you like.
To start with, you sign in using your Twitter credentials and allow Slices to extract all the data from your Twitter account. Slices automatically groups all the people you follow into categories, which are presented in a tree diagram from a pull-out menu on the side. I was impressed at how the app instantly grouped the 600 odd people I follow into "Tech & Science," "Business & Money" and "TV & Movies." You can create your own slice, too. Unfortunately you can't slice these slices down any further.
From the menu, you can tap into an extensive section devoted to discovery. It’s possible to scroll through topics like humour, celebs, and sports to see top lists to follow, and Twitter accounts related to that category. My favourite category is Live Events, which shows you a live stream of tweets during a trending event, such as for example a U.S. Open tennis match. The weak point here, though, is that Slices only displays a few trending events and doesn't let you search for one.
Apart from organising all your followers into categories, Slices offers a few neat features I haven't seen elsewhere. You can bookmark Twitter accounts to your side menu, temporarily "zip" or hide annoying users from your timeline, and even tweak the look and sound of an interaction or direct message alert.
However, Slices misses out some very basic features, namely support for multiple Twitter accounts, a character counter, and real-time updating. I ran both Slices and the normal Twitter app for a few days, and the former consistently pushed notifications anywhere from five minutes to half an hour slower than Twitter.
But my biggest problem with Slices is that it crashed constantly on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android Jelly Bean. I finally uninstalled the app after a week.
That said, Slices does present an interesting way to explore the Twitterverse through a unique set of discovery tools. Hyper-engaged Twitters users, or those who can spend hours exploring new content through Twitter will probably appreciate most of what Slices has to offer. It’s just a shame about the crashing.
Slices gives your Twitter timeline a mini-makeover with a unique set of filtering tools and ways to curate relevant lists and profiles. Certainly some avid Twitter addicts will find this a worthwhile app, but it’s lacking in basic features, and worse still, it crashed frequently during the week long review period.
Sadly, the frustrations outweigh the good points, and if it’s a solid performing app you’re after, you’re best sticking with the official Twitter offering for the time being. And so, the quest for an Android tweeting alternative continues…