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Power Twitter Gets More Powerful with Latest Release

fred-wilson-power-twitter

A few days back, I noticed something in Fred Wilson’s tweets. He was using some sort of app called Power Twitter. Now Fred is the highly visible Union Square Ventures VC behind Twitter. When he uses an application to engage with Twitter, I’m curious why. So I checked it out.

Power Twitter is a Firefox add-on built by Narendra Rocherolle. Power Twitter, as its name implies, supercharges the web -based interface of Twitter for Firefox browser users. The added features are those that a lot of Twitter users want. As John Tropea tweeted:

@bhc3 twitter should have this inhouse, just like what happened with replies, and what also should happen with hashtags

Power Twitter got good coverage on TechCrunch in January of this year. On February 26, a slew of new features were released. These new features have made Power Twitter even better, and perhaps give a glimpse of what Twitter could do in the future.

Packed with Valuable Features

Here’s a screen shot of the Twitter page with Power Twitter installed:

power-twitter-home-page

Let’s talk about the numbered features.

#1 – Post Photo: Have a picture you want to tweet out? Use the handy Post Photo link. When you click it, you’ll be presented with a familiar dialogue box asking you to upload a picture. Once you select your picture, it is automatically posted to TwitPic. Your TwitPic picture will have its own URL, which is automatically pasted into the “What are you doing?” box. Then you type out whatever you want to accompany the picture. This is new with the Feb. 26 release.

#2 – Shorten Link: Sharing links is a prevalent activity on Twitter. According to Ginx, 20% of tweets are sharing links. With the Shorten Link feature, you paste a long URL into an input box, and Power Twitter automatically shortens it using bit.ly (see previous bit.ly coverage here). You then type whatever message you want. One downside is that it doesn’t associate the bit.ly URL to your bit.ly account. But for most people, that’s not an issue. This is new with the Feb. 26 release.

#3 – Retweet: The retweet is emerging as the new thing to do on Twitter. As Robert Scoble wrote in a comment in a FriendFeed discussion: “I judge myself off of how many times I get retweeted. That demonstrates readership, credibility, engagement, interest, etc.” Power Twitter now makes it easier to retweet those tweets you like. Every entry has a little “RT” to the side. When you click the “RT”, the entire tweet is copied to your “What are you doing?” box, along with “RT @[person]”. Very easy. This is new with the Feb. 26 release.

#4 – Expand Shortened URLS: One problem with the shortened URLs is that you don’t know where they go before clicking them. Power Twitter automatically expands the shortened URLs so you see the full URL. This is something that was implemented on FriendFeed a while back, and it’s great for fully extra secure before clicking those links.

#5 – Search and Saved Searches: Search is another aspect of Twitter that is emerging as hugely important. Twitter bought the third party search service Summize to provide search to its members. However, they have maintained search as a separate URL from the Twitter home page, although they are testing the addition of search to the homepage currently. With Power Twitter, you don’t have to wait. Search is embedded right on your home page. When you run a search, Power Twitter runs it against the Twitter search engine and presents the results right on your homepage.

Power Twitter also links # hashtags to a Twitter search. When you see a hashtag, click on it. Power Twitter returns a set of results including the hashtag. Power Twitter retains a list of your previous searches if you want to run them again. The saved search history is new with the Feb. 26 release.

#6 – @Mentions: Twitter added the @replies tab a while back, which shows those tweets that begin with your Twitter handle (e.g. @bhc3 lorem ipsum…). Power Twitter also includes @mentions, where your handle is included elsewhere inside the tweet (e.g. RT @bhc3 lorem ipsum…). A quick way to see if someone retweeted you or otherwise mentioned you in a tweet.

#7 – Facebook: You can view the status updates of your friends on Facebook, right from the Twitter page. I assume this leverages the new Facebook status updates API. For me, this is a hugely valuable addition. I don’t log in to Facebook too often, meaning I don’t see the updates of my connections there. Now, I regularly check the Facebook tab in Twitter to see what my friends are up to. Really, really helpful.

In-Line Media

This isn’t new, but merits mention. Power Twitter displays the media associated to links to several different services including:

  • TwitPic
  • Flickr
  • YouTube
  • Google Maps
  • Song.ly
  • Others

The song.ly links include a simple player to hear the song that was tweeted. Very nice. Here’s an example of what a TwitPic looks like as it hits your Twitter stream:

power-twitter-twitpic-inline

That tweet only had a link to a TwitPic URL. But Power Twitter found the TwitPic URL, and pulled the actual picture into the tweet.

Some people may not like the inclusion of media in their Twitter stream, preferring text only. If that’s the case, Power Twitter lets you turn off the inclusion of rich media in tweets.

But one thing that occurred to me is that this resembles somewhat the experience you have with FriendFeed, which does a great job with including media inline on its pages.

Quick View of People’s Last 5 Tweets

Power Twitter also lets you see the last five tweets of people. When you move your cursor over someone’s picture, a hover box appears. The hover box shows the last 5 tweets of that person. Here’s what it looks like (I added the red dotted line to highlight):

power-twitter-last-5-tweets

A very nice way to get a quick look at what someone is up to.

Continual Innovation

Power Twitter isn’t done innovating either. One of the items listed with the latest release is:

added foundations for new upcoming features

Looking forward to new features in the future. If you want to get more from Twitter, I recommend installing Power Twitter.

*****

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