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First Take: Twitter application for Microsoft Zune HD

So I've had the chance to fiddle around (as it were) with the Twitter application that was released this week for the Zune HD. As someone who uses Twitter quite often (and is a fan of Tweetdeck and Twikini) I had high hopes for the much ballyhooed Zune HD Twitter app. I came away thinking that it was a good version 1.0, but it left a bit to be desired.


First off, the presentation is quite stunning. It has a very fluid look and design. The entire application is done in a vertical view (you can't do anything in landscape), but Zune definitely uses the vertical view really well. You can clearly see your friend's twitter names, icons and their tweets without having to squint at the screen. Landscape would be nice in the sense that using the keyboard in landscape mode would be nice, but it's something you can forgive.

What I, personally, couldn't forgive was that for all of the things you can do when you tap on a friend's tweet, one of the options was not to re-tweet. Twitter actually didn't consider re-tweeting as a feature until users starting to do it on their own. They wanted to be able to share something interesting or funny with their followers, especially when it was written by someone that probably isn't sharing the same followers. Over time other applications began including re-tweet as part of their basic functionality. Twitter, themselves, caught on to this and began to incorporate a re-tweet feature in their web-based environment. So to not see it in the Zune HD application was kind of jaunting.


One of the things they did that was interesting was give you the ability to tweet whatever song you were listening to at the time. I commend them for keeping with the foundation for music discovery, but then I also thought about what a person could do with that information. You're allowed to place other text around the title (for example to say "Hey everyone check out (song title) by (song artist) ", but then if I saw that come at me, there wasn't much I could do with it. Hell, I couldn't even re-tweet that to friends so maybe they could go out and listen to the song recommendation.


I'm not quite sure how much metadata is synced to the Zune HD device, but I would hope that at some point, you'd be able to do something more with the tweeting of songs. Maybe, much like the radio tagging feature, you could have the option (through the Twitter app in a future version) to be able to tag the song and try to download it or purchase it from the Zune Marketplace when you connect the device to the PC.


The settings menu perplexed me because when you tap it, you can only view the Twitter terms of service or you can logout. When I tap settings, I'm expecting to find a series of options that will allow me to tailor this application to suit how I use Twitter. I'm hoping that it's there to make room for future functionality, but as it stands, settings -- for me -- doesn't seem to be the right word given what you can do with it.


Oh, and then there's that little thing of censorship. It appears that in your timeline on the Zune HD device, if your friends swear, their swear words will be marked with the first letter of the word followed by the * character. Personally, I'm fine with that. Not being able to see a swear word isn't detrimental to the overall experience I'll have in chatting with friends. Most people are up in arms about that, but I would tell them to put their arms down and take a chill pill.


Now I understand that this is the first version of Zune's native Twitter app and I understand that it's free of charge for all Zune HD owners. Given that I think it's a great first start. I would just say add the ability to re-tweet and some future functionality with the 'music tweeting' ability and we're definitely on to something.

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