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Tweet Lanes could be the best Twitter app someday

by Phil Owen

With the advent of Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, we're seeing a few Twitter apps aimed specifically at this generation of the Android OS. Tweet Lanes is one of these, and it is a work in progress. It's a beta release right now, and as such it's missing a couple features, like notifications. But if you sit tight, Tweet Lanes might be the Twitter app you've been looking for your whole life.

At first glance, Tweet Lanes looks a lot like TweetDeck or Boid. As the name of the app suggest, it's all about "lanes" here that you swipe between. The main lane, or column, you'll see is your timeline, but if you swipe to the left you'll see your own tweets – I like that it's easy to find my own tweets in this app, because I am vain – and if you go right you'll find lanes for @replies, retweets of you, lists of people you are following and who are following you, your favorites, and a lane each for your Twitter lists. A recent update added a lane for direct messages, too. You cannot currently change the placement of these lanes, but you can choose which to display..

There are a few design quirks that I like. For one, selecting a tweet does not show a separate page for that tweet. Instead, it selects that tweet, and automatically adds the names of the people in that tweet to the beginning of a new tweet, which can be manipulated in the ever-present new tweet box at the bottom of the screen. If you select more than one tweet, it will let of reply to all the people in all the tweets at the same time. This is useful for, say, if you ask a question and multiple people respond.

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So how do you look at pictures in tweets, then? Well, Tweet Lanes provides a very small preview of images within the frame of the tweet, and you merely have to select the image preview to see it bigger. If you want to look at the profile of the tweeter, you select that person's avatar next to the tweet.

Another neat feature, which people with small hands might appreciate, is that you can scroll up and down with the hardware volume buttons.

Another quirk I don't like so much is that if you leave the app open, the screen will not turn off on its own. I'm sure down the line they will allow you to turn that feature off, but for now it's annoying because I have a tendency to put my phone in my pocket while the screen is still on – yes, I've pocket dialed a few people in my time – which in this case leads to intense battery drain. Of course, as I write this, the screen turned off while the app was still open, but that was the first time during my testing in which that has happened.

Tweet Lanes is still a work in progress, but it is very promising. Look out for this one; it's going to be a powerhouse.