Daily App Review: Rowi (Windows Phone)
It might not be in the same league as iOS and Android yet, but the arrival of apps like Rowi proves that it won't be long before Windows Phone users feel 'appy' as well.
There is hardly anyone in the tech world who has any problems with the buttery smooth, tile-based interface of Windows Phone. Where the OS is however believed to come up short is in the application department, where it trails the likes of iOS and Android in terms of quality, if not as much in quantity. However, Microsoft has been pulling out all stops to attract developers to its platform, and especially since its alliance with Nokia, a number of the software crowd have been looking at Windows Phone with some interest. The result: a wave apps that do more than just make up the numbers in Windows Marketplace.
And one of these is Rowi, a Twitter app that has been around for almost a year now, but which got a hefty update a few days ago, making it work far more smoothly on Windows Phone 7.5 (or Mango, as many people call it). In terms of functions, it might seem very similar to a standard Twitter app, but as always, scratch beneath the surface and a few gems emerge. The app is relatively lightweight at a mere 1 MB, and installed without a hitch on our Samsung Omnia W. The app opens by displaying your Timeline and Mentions and you can swipe between them. You can add Messages too but this involves getting permission from Twitter and entering a code. Tedious, but well worth it, we say.
For at the end of the day, we found Rowi working much more smoothly than Twitter's own app for Windows Phone--except for odd lags when we were retweeting. Refreshes happened briskly and you can brisk your timeline, messages and mentions to your homescreen, which is kind of handy. Images can be uploaded to TwitPic, yfrog and LockerzYou also have a lot of control over the look of the app, so you can rearrange the columns the way you want to--keep Mentions and Messages up front if you prefer seeing them first (or have a crowded Timline that you would rather see later). And you can also opt to read articles and sites mentioned in tweets later by saving them using services like Readability, Instapaper and Read I Later. Again, this is something we look, as we do tend to use out Twitter feed as a newsreel as well as a digital social forum. There are some neat touches too--if you accidentally are on the verge of sending a tweet with nothing in it, the app asks you "you are going to tweet a bunch of nothing, ay?"
The app does have some limitations too--you cannot see trending topics or suggestions for people to follow in columns as you would on a Tweetdeck. No, this is not one of those do-it-all-and-then-some Twitter apps, but one that does the Twitter basics very well indeed. You can make new Tweets, retweet others, follow people, add comments to existing tweets, mark tweets as favourites. You can tap on a Tweet to view it in isolation, reply to it, and check out the profile of the tweeter. Best of all, it works very smoothly and intuitively, blending in smoothly with the entire Metro UI of Windows Phone. The app is available in an ad-supported free version and a paid version that allows you get push notifications. We would recommend trying out the former if you are a Windows Phone user--it is a fair chance that you will end up graduating to the latter in a short while. Yep, that good.
Available from: Windows Market
-- Nimish Dubey