We’ve seen a steady stream of ‘smart’ Twitter clients in recent times, with the likes of Tweetary rolling out as a sort of diary for all your tweets. Then there’s TweetDig, a Web app which tidies your Twitter stream by sorting tweets into custom folders, or Slices which makes creating lists of people to follow on Twitter easier than it is on…Twitter.
Now, however, another so-called smart Twitter client has hit our radar, going by the name of Neatly.
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Available for iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad and…wait for it…Symbian, Neatly comes courtesy of F16Apps, a Cairo-based startup that graduated from the Flat6Labs accelerator. F16Apps develops “socially productive” mobile apps, with Neatly serving as its current flagship product.
The whole premise behind Neatly is to help users combat information-overload on Twitter, letting them customize smart timelines based on their social preferences and interests, surfacing what’s really important.
How it works
Firstly, it’s worth noting that Neatly boasts a pretty sweet interface, and is very easy on the eyes. But Neatly is more than just looks.
Also, it’s optimized for both the smaller form-factors of iPhone/iPod Touch, as well as the iPad. While the features are similar across both, the look is slightly different because of the available screen real estate. For this, I’m basing the verdict on the iPad incarnation.
The first thing you’ll see when you connect your Twitter account is your timeline. But down the left-hand side you’ll see a series of different options to the usual Twitter interface.
It’s worth noting here that you can use Neatly as a standard Twitter client – it has @mentions, Direct Messages, Lists and all the usual features you’ve come to expect of Twitter. But Neatly is more than just a standard Twitter client.
You can customize your timeline, filtering similar updates into separate, single timelines, while eking out topics that don’t interest you and putting them to one side.
Neatly collates similar tweets as a Topic, and within each one you will see a list of users who have posted a relevant tweet under that topic – they are entirely contextual. For example you will find Apple, iPhone and iPad lumped together under a single topic.
You can even assign a visual indicator (e.g. a different colour) for specific users so their tweets stand out on your timeline.
The settings menu is where you can elect to ‘mute’ specific sources and topics, or choose to highlight specific topics with a particular colour too. So if you want to ‘silence’ a particular person that you’re following, without actually ‘unfollowing’ them, you can do. You can also do the same for specific hashtags, if you wish.
There’s also a Smart Timeline, which looks not too-dissimilar to the regular one, except you’ll see it’s not sorted by time – it’s sorted by what’s important to you. And the more you use the app, the more it learns from your actions, and makes the timeline more efficient with key tweets at the top.
You can also click on a specific profile, which highlights things such as common interests, purely based on the content of your respective tweets.
Also, it’s worth pointing out the multi-stack feature on iPad, which lets you open numerous windows on top of each other, rather than having to navigate back and forth between screens. If you want to keep a window open for later use, you can pin it to the window and keep it for as long as you need it.
This applies to each section, so as you go in and out of, say, ‘Timeline’ and ‘Smart Timeline, you will retain the windows in each.
It’s actually difficult to go through all the various features and nuances of Neatly – the more you use it, the more you’ll find neat little facets that really sell it to you, or you can simply ignore them.
For example, you can easily attach a tweet, conversation, topic or image to an email directly from within the message, via a dedicated email icon at the bottom of each tweet.
As noted already, however, Neatly is a very nice alternative to the official Twitter client, even without all the bells and whistles. But the icing on the cake with Neatly, perhaps, is the ability to add multiple profiles to the app, which is good if you have a work and personal profile.
“I came up with the concept for Neatly because I follow a lot of people on Twitter on my iPhone, and it was hard to keep up with specific tweets I wanted to follow,” says Ahmad Essam, co-founder of F16Apps and creator of Neatly. “No one wants to scroll through Twitter all day looking for specific information. Neatly has many user interface features that create feeds based on users’ activities to save time.”
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