For most people, Twitter and Facebook are not just social networks, but social networking itself. Indeed, if we had a rupee for every time we saw net denizens accessing their Facebook and/or Twitter accounts before checking their e-mails and IMs for the day, we would have been rolling in money. That said, seeing these two worthies in the same form day in and day out can induce a sense of ennui — the official website and apps do tend to tread a path that is mundane. Which is why efforts to jazz up the viewing experience of these two social networking heavyweights have always been underway in the app world — be it Flipboard’s magazine-like presentation, Pulse’s sideway’s panel, or Paper.li’s efforts to generate a whole newspaper based on links shared on your Twitter feed. But if even those do not tickle your fancy, here are six apps that will totally change the way you look at Facebook and/or Twitter. Literally.
Social media pundits say social networks are not passive media but organisms in their own right. Well, it seems the message got through to the developers of this app because they have represented your Facebook and Twitter feeds in the form of microbiological cellular bodies floating in what we can only assume is information goo. Each cell is an agglomeration of different people and what they have said and you find this out by just tapping on the relevant part of the cell. Biology fans will love this, others might find it a tad yucky, but we loved the way our social feeds kept bubbling away — much more interesting than staring at dull text and images. You can link it to LinkedIn as well, if you wish a cellular view of that network.
If we ever were to be given a say in deciding what Facebook should look like, we reckon we could go with the way this app presents it. It takes a slice out of Windows Phone by putting everything that happens on your Facebook on one large screen with a black background. You can check your own status updates, activity on your wall, photos, shares and even check-ins into different locations presented on a map. You can tap on an item to get a more detailed look at it, along with comments. It might seem like an information overdose at times but once you get the hang of it, you will never go back to the official Facebook page to find out what’s happening.
Considered a Flipboard alternative by many, and best known for its handling of news feeds and turning them into something that is a cross between a flippable magazine and a very colourful bulletin board, Evri is also capable of doing the same to your Twitter and Facebook feeds. The app pulls out the links shared on your feeds and presents in the form of stories that you can read by just clicking on them, even while presenting links to related subjects and people mentioned in the story. It is simple and attractive, and a lot less cluttered than the likes of Flipboard and Pulse. The app only presents the most recent links and pictures shared, letting you just sit back and read. It is currently available only on iOS devices but we have seen an Android beta and really hope that it comes to Android users soon.
A lot of people use Paper.li to generate a daily newspaper based on link-laden Tweets they have received in their timeline. Well, PostPost does something similar. But while Paper.li is a bit dry to look at, PostPost converts your Twitter feed into something far more colourful, combining previews of images, videos and links pulled from your Twitter account. It is like seeing a wall of content. Best of all, this is a Web app, and works from within your browser (no downloads needed). You can share your comments on different items and search your timeline as well. Very handy for those who use Twitter as a source of information. It’s a lot easier on the eye, if not as customisable as Paper.li. Just give it some time to prepare your page when you start it for the first time.
“All your social streams in one beautiful journal” is the tagline that comes with this app, which is available both for your browser and for the iPad and iPhone. And while it does not exactly deliver the same level of eye candy as some others, Streamified does make the social networking experience more visually appealing by placing all your Twitter and Facebook feeds on a digital wall of sorts, including images where necessary. It is a bit like checking out a massive social bulletin board — to read any entry in detail, tap on it. No, you will not flaunt this app on your computer or iPad, but it is a fair chance that you will use it to access your social networks. Surely that counts for something.
If sheer style is what matters most in your Facebook and Twitter experience, then Spout is the app for you. Download it on your iPhone or iPad and sit back and watch large-sized words zip and zoom back and forth on your screen, forming sentences, even as they bring you the latest from your feeds. The effect can be dazzling and, to be honest, even dizzying after a while. What we cannot, however, deny is that when it comes to sheer visual experience, Spout is brilliant — you are riveted to the screen wondering what is coming next as the words zip in and out. You can even link your Google Reader account to it, if you wish. It’s not free, but then style seldom comes without a price tag.