January 18, 2010

Beyond Search: Twazzup Prepares New Twitter Web Client

Last April, Twazzup looked to make searching Twitter a more rich experience, one-upping the vanilla Twitter search interface by adding graphics, real-time updates, and influencers of individual accounts, to name a few most obvious improvements. Now, the company looks to be on the verge of shifting gears in an aggressive way, developing not yet another search engine, but instead, a feature-rich Web client for Twitter that looks within the real-time content stream to find different types of updates, and even goes so far as to expand links shared on Twitter, providing followers with a preview of that which you have shared. The result is easily the most compelling Twitter Web experience I have seen since Brizzly, even if it is not yet known when the service will open up to all, or what it means for the company's current search offering.

Twazzup Breaks Out Content by Type, Displays Rich Media, Integrates Search

With Twitter's maturation, the service has recently adopted a number of new features, including the much-discussed Lists, addition of geolocation, and integrated retweeting. These additions have led to greater functionality by practically all clients, but few have looked to take the next step, not only integrating the new options, but presenting a new approach to the real-time streams. Brizzly was among the first to debut in-line display of video and images. Twazzup does this also, but in addition, expands links to provide previews of content, like you see on Facebook, and the automated categorization of content by its type, a sentiment analysis of updates, and an associated tag cloud, velocity of updates, and the ability to take action on updates, such as favorites, retweets, or replies in a single click.

Viewing a list shows sentiment analysis and a content cloud

To be honest, the more I played with the beta functionality of the new Twazzup, the more features I uncovered. While not completely baked, it is easily the most feature-rich Web client out there, and when it does debut, it should see people kicking the tires in a big way.

Today, Twitter's standard Web client is functional, if not exciting. You have the familiar "What's happening?" box and a series of updates from those you follow, as well as your own personal statistics on the right. Twazzup focuses less on your own numbers, but those from your stream.

Note the velocity in the top right and new updates on Twazzup

Mentions on Twazzup also show tags, sentiment, who shared the content.

In addition to a simple "Post Update" button, Twazzup's client shows the total number of recent updates from those in my stream in the last hour, selects "Highlights", which includes those I talk to most often, influencers and popular shared links, "Photos and Video" for shares that display rich media, "Questions" for those updates that have questions, and "Map", which highlights updates that feature geolocation, complete with avatars from those Tweeters.

Check Out Twazzup's Map for Where Tweets Originate

Retweets, replies and favorites in line on Twazzup.

The velocity of the tweets can vary from time of day, of course. In my testing, it looked like the nearly 10,000 people I follow were tweeting at a velocity between 6,000 and 15,000 updates a day, on a quiet Sunday. No doubt a weekday, or a big news day, would see higher numbers. Given the high numbers, it can sometimes be hard to find the most relevant data. Twazzup dices these updates with its powerful search roots. A "Refine" search box on the right shows only those tweets in my stream that match keywords, and the search term is highlighted in results.

Searching for a frequent term in the stream on Twazzup

One of Twazzup's big features is a minimalist navigation bar atop the screen, which shows lists you follow, mentions, and an Inbox (where direct messages come and go). On the right side, you also have a "Settings" box which lets you choose what contributes to your "Highlights" on the page. It's much like the right navigation bar on the Twitter page, but the only numbers that populate it are those of how many mentions you have seen, how many new messages are in your in box, or how many new items are on your home stream.

I can choose my Highlights from Twazzup.

In place of the right side navigation, you get details on your stream, from a tag cloud based on included keywords, with larger words being used most frequently, and a smiley face to indicate positive feedback, or frown to indicate negative mood.

Twazzup's new Twitter client shows significant potential, especially when compared to Twitter.com and Brizzly, but it doesn't yet offer some of the more advanced features some clients offer, from what I could tell, including support for Facebook, multiple user support or columns, like Seesmic Web. But it does hint at API integrations, including a connection to LinkedIn, so I will be very interested in seeing what is in store for the very newest of Twitter Web clients. I don't yet have information on when the service will open up, or what this means for Twazzup's current search offering, but there will soon be a new name in town when it comes to Web interfaces for Twitter, and that name is Twazzup.