Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Chrome OS Social Update Dilemma (or Sorry Gwibber - All is Forgiven)

I miss Gwibber, there, I said it. After being annoyed, frustrated and generally dismissive of it I have realised it is one piece of software I really miss, having been 'Gwibber-less' from December 2010 until February 2011. Mainly due to me deciding to have a monogamous relationship with my Chrome OS Cr-48 and not sleep around with other operating systems, though I have 'stepped-out' on it with Window's XP once or twice. Suddenly I realised that I no longer had little bubbles popping up on my desktop any more with little parcels of social networking news, often too quick to read, but my connection to my virtual friends nonetheless. Hence my quest began to find the best replacement on the Chrome OS using Cr-48. 

I soon discovered many apps and extensions in the Chrome Web Store, but I needed something that would do most things, hence my list was narrowed down to five apps. I preferred apps over extensions because I do not like how the pop-up boxes appear on-screen and the apps could run full screen on a pinned tab. I used each app for a week until finally settling for a clear winner, for me anyway! So in order of trial I begin.

Hootsuite was featured in one of the little Google boxes on the right of the Chrome store, so I figured if it is good enough for Google, it is good enough for me. The interface is fresh, bright and clear. They also allow you to type your updates and have it send at a specified time, which I thought was a really nice feature for those of us that do not want to blast out a handful of updates at a time. BUT I soon found the caveat to many of the Chrome Store's apps, free to install and use, but all the good stuff you have to pay for. For most users the stuff to pay for will not matter, Hootsuite pulls in your feeds from multiple accounts and displays them via a tabbed layout. On the Cr-48 it did get very slow at times and the adverts popping up regularly in your feeds did no favours either. Overall I ranked this third place, mainly due to it being slow, not all your feeds are displayed on one page and the constant reminders you are using a sucky free version and your life would be a million times better if you pay for the full-featured version.

Everybody has tweeted about TweetDeck, well in many of the blogs/tweets I read, and I often see people requesting a version of it for the Ubuntu desktop. After a week I just did not see what the fuss was about and was rather disappointed. Before I say more, what I did like is that you can use it 'straight out of the box' without creating an account. The black theme I did not like, never do, personally I prefer softer, brighter themes as they are easier on the eyes. A plus is that you can put all the feeds you desire on the page in front of you, no need for tabs, but the columns do not re-size so you may need to scroll left and right. The layout is very clean and well designed, you can add your twitter and facebook feeds no problem. Overall though it did not grow on me, there are no annoying adverts, again slow to use at times on the Cr-48 so this ended up in fourth place overall.

OK...streamie for chrome was my attempt to think out of the box a little, something that would not be as flashy or slow as my previous two attempts, but was still intuitive and easy to use. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, gives you your twitter feed, you can post message and is a full screen app...but so what? It would be just as conveiniant to leave your twitter page open on a pinned tab and check in now and then. It is clutter-free though and elegant, so if you like your desktop minimilistic then I think this could be for you, but for me, it comes in fifth place overall.

After a week of Streamie I returned back to the world of full featured social networking apps with a blast and discovered my second favourite, the raccoon's favourite, Seesmic! This is a very nice and well done app, it works relatively fast and smooth on the Cr-48 compared to the others, the design is not as polished as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, but it is simple, clear and efficient. Setting up a free account allows you to access multiple feeds and away you go. You do have to scroll left to right to see multiple accounts, if you have them, but you do not mind that thanks to the speed, no annoying adverts and updates worked everytime. What is not to like?  Like I said, it is not as polished as the others, but that is really my only complaint, it was going to take something very impressive to knock this off the top spot...

I first used Yoono years ago on Firefox, but it would run in the side-bar, it looked too 'busy' and at the time I just did not need it...but how do things change. On Chrome, and on the Cr-48, for me it is a perfect match. You get all your feeds, auto-sized onto a single screen, you click a picture in your Flickr feed and it starts a on-screen slideshow, all your updates and messages from every linked account are indicated on the left bar, not in your face, but clear and effective, that includes the feeds you have not given columns to. It is easy to repy, retweet, like, comment, etc., but they do include one advert on the left of the page, but I think it is more then worth it. They also include multiple themes for whatever mood you are in. It is easily my number one and the best fit I think there is for Chrome OS for me. Even with all those features it is still very quick and smooth on the Cr-48. This is what I recommend you try if you are still looking for the perfect match to Chrome.

So there you go, my top 5 social networking apps for Chrome, Chrome OS and the Cr-48. I know many will disagree, but I found the best for me. The Chrome Web Store has plenty of options and I recommend you give anything you find a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.


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