Windows Phone 7: Twitter Apps

The Lowdown

I recently picked up a Nokia Lumia 800 phone, running Windows Phone 7. In short: I’m a geek, I like trying out new tech, I’ve had an iPhone since mid-2008, and I really liked the look of what Microsoft has done with Windows Phone 7. I’m working on a full review, but as I’m getting to grips with the phone and the OS I figured I’d write up some of the issues I run up against.

Today: finding a Twitter app.

A note on terminology

Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Windows Phone 7, it features a number of different notification methods. I’ll mention these later on, so I figured I should briefly explain what each type is:

  • Live Tile updates
    Windows Phone 7’s Start screen features ‘Live Tiles’ – essentially large icons that can be used to launch applications, access music, files, or other useful parts of applications that you might want to jump straight in to. They can also be dynamically updated with badge counts, text, or images.
  • Toast notifications
    Toast notifications are most similar to iOS notifications. They appear briefly at the top of the screen to notify you of events such as text messages or new tweets.
  • Raw notifications
    These just push some data into a running app.

Twitter Apps

Windows Phone 7’s App Marketplace still feels pretty immature in comparison to iOS. There are a number of Twitter apps available (but nowhere near the number available on iOS), and thankfully you can try most of them out for free. Free trials are a huge plus for the WP7 Marketplace, and I’d love to see a similar feature on the App Store. Unfortunately I haven’t found a perfect app (sadly, no WP7 Tweetbot), but here’s a quick summary of everything I’ve tried that was even worth mentioning.

System-level integration

WP7 features great system-level Twitter integration. You can check your main timeline, send tweets and replies, and view mentions.


  • Fast.
  • Updates your ‘Me’ Live Tile with any mentions you may have received.


  • No conversation views.
  • No toast notifications.

Twitter (official app, free)


  • Looks really nice (I especially like the dark theme).
  • Performance seems very good (scrolling, etc).


  • Doesn’t remember your position in the timeline.
  • No toast notifications or live tile updates.

Mehdoh (free)


  • Has notifications.
  • Remembers your position in the timeline.
  • Gap detection.
  • Instapaper support.


  • Only seems to do toast notifications, and they’re nowhere near real time. App seems to state that it does live tile updates, but I’ve yet to see it work.
  • Not the prettiest app in the world.
  • By default, it doesn’t grab many new tweets, but this seems to be configurable.
  • Ugly splash screen

Birdsong (free, with trial)


  • Looks nice.


  • Says it does notifications, but they don’t work.
  • Jerky scrolling (seemed to mainly be triggered after viewing a link and then returning to the timeline)
  • Doesn’t remember your position
  • Ugly splash screen

Rowi (£2.29, with trial)


  • Looks nice.
  • Keeps timeline position.
  • Paid version does notifications (haven’t tested these yet).
  • Instapaper support.
  • Really responsive devs, and a big update will be out very soon.


  • Conversation view isn’t great – have you manually click through each tweet.
  • Doesn’t seem to multitask particularly well (this will be improved in the pending update).
  • Scrolling occasionally goes a bit … clunky (again, I think this should be improved in the next update).

Which is best?

I’m currently mainly flitting between the system-level integration and Rowi. Rowi has most of the features I need, the developers are very responsive, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming update which is apparently going to bring full Mango support (Live Tiles, etc). It’s not perfect, and I think style-wise I prefer the official Twitter app, but Rowi offers more of the features I need. I’m currently only using the trial at the moment, but I’ll likely buy the full thing soon as I really want notifications (and Mehdoh’s just aren’t up to scratch).

All of these apps have free trials, so there’s no reason not to check them all out and see what suits you best.