Sunday, 11 July 2010

Boxcar - App Review


Boxcar is essentially an app to manage your RSS feeds but it does something really quite useful for twitter.  iPhone users with a facebook account will be used to getting pinged on their phone by the app as you a status update gets commented on or you receive a message.  But no twitter app I've come across has that as a feature.

Boxcar does though, the clever lil devil.  As well as being able to alert when you when your favourite site has updated via the RSS alerts it can also be synced with your twitter account (and facebook but it seemed a little pointless).  There are various settings that you can apply but the most useful of the features let you know when you've had an @ reply or a DM (Direct Message) on twitter.

So as an example I tweeted AT earlier to see when he was coming over for the football.  My phone vibrated and made the same noise as it does when I receive a text and the message appears on screen.  (Not that I in anyway messaged AT to get a response so that I could write this review...)

Nice huh?

Now obviously you can open any twitter app you have installed to see and respond to the message but you can also open it within Boxcar.

You'll see the familiar number in a red circle on the app, or in my case on my 'Social' folder and you can tap the app to make it open and you're then taken to a rather dull screen showing your most recent messages.  It's strange how disconcerting it is that they are the other way round from the Twitter and Tweetdeck apps, reading top to bottom, but they're easy enough to navigate.

Your own messages are missing from the feed, which I imagine is because you wouldn't want the app pinging you every time you sent a message of your own.  It's stripped down and functional looking but the  messages are legible and importantly you can see who the message is from.  Pretty crucial.

Now comes the clever bit.  Hit the tweet and the app closes down and opens the twitter app.  Now I don't think I set it up to do that, it just does.  Which is nice.  I do love it when stuff just works with no real explanation.

(Having now gone and looked back at the app settings it uses 'tweetie', now twitter, as default but there 31 different twitter apps listed that you can use instead if you're not a twitter app fan, including several for iPad.)

I imagine that the settings which allow facebook and email notifications work in the same way although they're a bit redundant for me when the relevant apps do that already but it's a useful edition to the twitter app family on my phone.

Not the best looking app in the world, function over form for sure, but actually that kind of makes a nice change and it's also free and hopefully going to help me launch a little project that I couldn't possibly talk about here.