Twitter and twhirl, Friendfeed and Alert Thingy
Originally, thwirl was developed for use with Twitter and Alert Thingy for Friendfeed, but both thwirl and Alert Thingy now support both services, so it really comes down to which one you like better and in suiting your needs. This all assumes of course that you’re obsessed enough with Twitter and/or Friendfeed to want to sync your desktop up with ongoing alerts. If you are such a person (like me), step on forward!
twhirl and Alert Thingy run on Adobe AIR, which allows for a very easy and quick download and installation. Both apps are clean and extremely responsive, and the UI and design intuitive and very slick.
I’m a little bit more familiar with twhirl at this point, and really like a lot about what it offers. From an aesthetic standpoint, I like that the twhirl window becomes transluscent when you’re not using it, and brightens when you click on it. I also really like that it incorporates Twitter’s profile pic thumbnails, and adds a sweet “picture in picture” wrinkle when displaying a reply message.
twhirl makes it really easy to toggle between incoming “tweets” or messages from people you’re following and your archive, direct messages, replies, and favorites. Personally, I like to use Twitter and Friendfeed in different ways (I go into this in some detail here) so I like that twhirl allows me to open two windows and have my Twitter messages coming through one and Friendfeed messages coming through the other.
One of the best things about Alert Thingy, which is a little bit more Friendfeed-centric, is that it displays thumbnails of shared photos from Flickr. Visually though, I find Alert Thingy to be a little bit harder on the eyes than twhirl. Trying to find new comments being made on Friendfeed posts confused me a few times, for instance. And since it doesn’t let you split out Twitter and Friendfeed feeds into separate windows, it’s difficult for me to use it in the way that I would most prefer. I do really like the sound effect that Alert Thingy uses though!
I’m not sure if I’ll use either twhirl or Alert Thingy on an ongoing basis. I may be “old school” enough that I actually prefer to simply use the web-based versions of Twitter and Friendfeed, and refresh the page when I want to see the latest posts.
One great addition for the web-based version of Twitter that I would love to see: put a little checkbox next to every post that allows you to “mark your place” (this can either be done by default or could allow the user to mark it him/herself). That way you can always easily know “where you were” prior to the most recent refresh of the page.