app review: skimmer

application: skimmer

result: undecided

with so many great twitter and social networking apps out there, there’s a lot to choose from, and some stiff competition. and with so many social networks and a lot of crossover between them, you’d need to work hard to build something to suit everybody. this is a review for a new app called skimmer which was featured recently on smashingapp’s 13 free adobe air apps that can make your lives easier (thanks to @creydesign for tweeting this earlier today).

skimmer allows authentication to twitter, facebook, flickr, blogger, and youtube. that’s great, but what about the facebook chat? i hate it and rarely use it but what about myspace (i do have a page. two actually, one is an artist page)? we have a blogger account, but it’s not our main blog, and has only recently been launched since we started making blogger templates, so what about room for another blog. or any rss feed? and what about multiple twitter accounts?

my current setup uses digsby as a cross-platform messenger that gives me updates on facebook and other social networks, and twhirl for twitter, which allows me to use multiple accounts (and friendfeed, which i don’t use anymore). twhirl lacks the filter capacity of seesmic or tweetdeck (which is why i don’t follow everyone who follows me, or follow everyone in my field to boost my following), but i like it better than both options because both of those don’t give specific updates when someone in a particular filter tweets, they just say “1 new update”. i don’t care, i like to see the notification, even if i don’t have time to read it, because sometimes i care about what people are saying, and if i have time to glance down, i may choose to open the app and see the update. i can’t skim with “1 new update” so i never look at the application and i miss things, or alternately, i’m constantly flipping back and forth between working and checking the twitter stream and that’s not productive. if i had dual monitors, that would be a different story. i might have reason for seesmic or tweetdeck then, but now, not. so any new twitter or multiplatform application has to compete with, and beat, what i currently have set up. and really, it has to go one step further — i will switch immediately to any twitter application that gives me individual twitter notifications for tweeps i follow in a particular filter category (i.e. the one that’s active).

skimmer does the same kind of notifications as tweetdeck and seesmic, a single box that says “x new updates” when you have more than one (which still beats the filtered notifications of “1 new update” that tweetdeck was doing last i used it). and it still doesn’t filter, so it doesn’t solve the “to tweetdeck or not to tweetdeck” dilemma.

skimmer-profileon the other hand, skimmer is gorgeous. it’s the best designed twitter application i’ve seen, possibly the best designed application, period. it has different color schemes and the profile page is everything a narcissist could want. you can customize how you want your profile to be arranged, with a big honking flickr stream at the top, and two smaller streams underneath, or more, using all 5 feeds on a fullscreen view. It seems to me, though, that unless you really are a huge narcissist, you wouldn’t necessarily want all this space devoted to yourself. possibly other people, or possibly to show other people on a lifestream. indeed, there is an embed code, presumably so you could create a lifestream version of your skimmer profile after you’ve pimped it out.

skimmer also has the ability to upload to youtube and flickr within the application, which is pretty awesome if you are active on those networks. i usually do a huge page of flickr photos all at once and then nothing for months and i’ve yet to upload to youtube, so it doesn’t really help me out much, but it’s still cool.

multimedia content is where skimmer rocks the world.  the twitpic integration is pretty much awesome, showing a grayed-out version behind the tweet which disappears and reveals the image when you hover over it.  likewise, flickr photos are similarly well handled, allowing you to scroll through all the images that were posted in the set within a single entry in your feed.  and facebook photo updates can be expanded to show the full photo, a kind of feature that even the facebook site doesn’t have the like of.  and for blind or otherwise visually impaired folks like me, being able to expand a tweet or facebook update to be an attractive, larger size entry is also really sweet.

all these things make the limitated services, no notifications, and lack of apparent flexibility aggrivating because skimmer could be fantastic. it could at least outdo friendfeed, and possibly replace digsby, at least in the updates department, if not as a messenger. i have specific desires in a new social networking application and skimmer doesn’t quite get there for me. i wish it would, but it doesn’t, and as such, it hasn’t made me a convert (but it could, potentially, if they read this and decide i’m a genius and that they are going to add all the things i ask for because i’m so awesome. as that’s fairly unlikely to happen, i probably won’t be using skimmer. but you can, because chances are fairly likely that you (whoever you are) are not me, so if you use these services, and don’t have the rigorous requirements i do, it would be idea.

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