Slices Cuts Up Twitter Like Pie

There are more Twitter clients available for iPhone than you can shake a stick at, and some of them are quite powerful. For a new Twitter app to break through the noise, it has to do something differently. It has to make the Twitter experience feel new, fresh and unique — a tall order when the communication exchanged doesn’t change from app to app.

Most Twitter apps try to make it as easy as possible to communicate with other people online. Slices‘ priority is similar, yet different. Its primary goal is to act as both a discovery tool and a sophisticated newsfeed that allows you to easily group your Twitter feed into different categories — called “slices,” of course — that are similar to Twitter’s built-in lists feature. Let’s find out more after the break. 

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The User Interface

Any Twitter app has to prove itself with a fantastic interface. Tweetbot, which I think is the ultimate Twitter experience, has what I think is the perfect version. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the app’s UI and layout. The typography is easy to read, and splitting tweets with dotted lines is visually pleasing.

The Timeline in Slices.

The Timeline in Slices.

Checking your mentions or messages is easy. The app was rarely difficult to navigate, and once I adjusted, it was easy to get into what Slices had to offer. The Timeline is really well done all in all, and it’s just a joy to navigate. Visually, if Tweetbot is robotic, Slices feels warmer and friendlier to scroll through.

Exploring the Goods

Slices has a unique feature called Explore that helps you find people on Twitter you may be interested in following. It breaks Twitter into categories and finds popular accounts in each one. If you’re looking for new people to follow, you can head here. This is also where you’re going to find hashtags broken down the same way that they are in most other Twitter apps. It’s actually a fairly compelling reason to get into the app. It’s not that discovery is hard on Twitter, but Slices makes it easier.

Exploring featured slices.

Exploring featured slices.

Slices also lets you break the people your follow into list-like “slices,” which is where the app gets its name. In all honesty, I’m not sure I could tell you what makes this feature different than Twitter’s own implementation of lists. Adding people to slices is really easy, which is probably what the developer is after, but your slices won’t be synced to other Twitter services. You can’t import lists and I couldn’t find a way to export a slice as a list. It’s a unique feature to the app, which is good in that it helps the app stand out against the crowd, but bad because it keeps you locked in.

Slices has a unique interface for viewing a detailed tweet.

Slices has a unique interface for viewing a detailed tweet.

That raises a whole separate issue: Slices is only available on the web, and  iPhone and Android phones. There is no iPad or Mac app. The web interface is your only option, and while the web interface isn’t bad, it isn’t as desirable as a real app. Tweet Marker can be used to keep your Timeline’s position though, so it’s not impossible to use the Slices phone app in conjunction with other services.

Tweet About the Details

There are some features in Slices that you won’t be able to find in an app like Tweetbot. For starters, Slices offers a ZipIt function that’s similar to Tweetbot’s mute function. In Slices, you can choose to “zip” keywords in Tweets or even people who you aren’t interested in seeing Tweets from without unfollowing them. It’s really easy to manage what you zip up, so you can unzip them or change what you’ve zipped with just a few taps.

Pop-down menus let you choose what set of slices you're looking at, your mentions, messages and recent tweets.

Pop-down menus let you choose what set of slices you’re looking at, your mentions, messages and recent tweets.

Slices also offers text expansion (with Twitlonger or Twitmore), Read Later integration (with Instapaper, Pocket or Readability), URL shortening, image services, video services and Facebook connection so you can post Tweets to Facebook easily. The Facebook connection and text expansion are unique, especially in comparison to Tweetbot and the standard Twitter app.

The interface is easy to follow and quick to flick through.

The interface is easy to follow and quick to flick through.

Slices has one great feature that lets you take a quick look at all your statistics in the most detailed way possible. I was able to see who the most popular people I follow are and who had the most retweets on any given day. I was also able to see who tweeted me the most, messaged me the most and who retweeted me the most. It’s just a handy feature for people who are interested in how they use Twitter.

Slices also has a lot of customization options for the Timeline feature itself. You can choose font size, how many messages to load and other minor tweaks, but it’s more customization than what the competition offers. The most notable feature that Slices is missing is notification support, so you won’t be able to find out if you get mentioned or if you get a message.

Who Is This For?

At the end of the day, the average Twitter user doesn’t need this. A specialty app like Slices is tailored towards power users who use a lot of Twitter’s more advanced features. But in that way, Slices is a bit of a mixed bag: It has the features power users need, but doesn’t have essentials like notifications and, arguably, a tablet-optimized version of the app.

At the same time, Slices caters to people who are new to Twitter. Its Explore function makes it really easy to find people to follow, but power users with multiple accounts and lots of followers aren’t given a lot of reasons to switch in that regard.

Slices is a well-designed app with a bevy of great features that are sophisticated, but easy to use. That being said, it’s still missing some things (like notifications) that I would consider essential, and it makes it hard to recommend switching. If you’re still using the first-party Twitter app and thinking about moving up, Slices is worth considering, but if you’re already a diehard Tweetbot user (or use any other competition, really), there probably isn’t much that will attract you to Slices. It’s a shame that an app with this much thought put into unique design is going struggles to find an audience in need of its compelling features.


Summary

An easy-to-use and powerful Twitter app with features that most users aren't likely to use and without features that most users are likely to miss.

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