12 Apps of Christmas, Day 7: Twitter

Some TechRepublic editors and bloggers highlight their favorite app in this 12 Apps of Christmas series. The seventh app, recommended by Erik Eckel, is Twitter.



The 7th app of Christmas Erik Eckel gave to you is a social app called Twitter.

In the spirit of the holidays, we thought we’d create a smartphone series based on a popular Christmas song. The 12 Days of Christmas starts on Christmas Day, but our 12 Apps of Christmas begins today, and we'll continue to post one app per day, leading all the way up to the holiday. However you celebrate this season, and whatever device you own (or platform that it runs on), we hope that you find some gems over the next 12 days -- as these are the apps that the TechRepublic’s editorial staff and bloggers actually use and feel passionate enough to write about. Here's what Erik Eckel had to say about one of his favorite apps called Twitter.

Whenever I purchase a new gadget -- be it a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone -- Twitter is inevitably the first app I load.

Am I so narcissistic that I must Tweet, without delay and upon every device I wield? No. The ability to post status updates for friends, family, and followers isn’t that overwhelming. Let’s be honest. I don’t live that exciting a life or one that prompts others to remain riveted to my Twitter musings. I’m just not that compelling.

Instead, Twitter’s attraction is contained within its revolutionary capacity to immediately and concisely disseminate information. The app has really changed my life and the way I consume news and information that I can’t think of a more important technology, other than email, that possesses a greater impact on my life -- that is, since I replaced my Smith Corona Coronet XL with a word processor.

From empowering technology solutions in the workplace to assisting first responders to playing a pivotal role in historic events, Twitter has changed the way news and information flow. Twitter proves the old mantra, “information wants to be free,” is true. The social media platform essentially enables instant messaging to an unlimited number of followers from a myriad number of locations wherever someone with a Twitter account might be present.

Twitter communications, themselves simplistic 140-character messages, receive an extraordinary distribution assist due to two factors. The first is re-tweeting, which enables members to distribute others’ communications to one’s own collection of followers. The second is hashtags, which permits users to associate communications around topics and events using specific keywords. Hashtags then make it possible to search for and identify all communications occurring worldwide that focus on a single topic or event.

My son and I were among the first of tens of thousands of NASCAR attendees to learn the event was being postponed, thanks to Twitter. While tens of thousands stood confusedly in a prolonged rain shower, we headed to the parking lot, secure in the knowledge that the event was being postponed until the following morning.

I’ve received critical weather information updates, followed countless breaking news stories, collected much industry-related knowledge, won a helpful O’Reilly Knoppix Linux guide, saved considerable sums from learning about targeted flash sales, discovered a favorite band was coming to town (enabling me to obtain seats to the sold-out show), and more using Twitter. The social media app has also helped me stay in touch with colleagues as they move to new positions and cities, service my clients, and obtain seeming inside information for a number of hobbies.

Best of all, Twitter is free. No for-pay subscription account is required. Further, the service is infinitely customizable in that you can follow Tweets from a vast variety of accounts however you wish and access it whenever you want, catching up on missed Tweets as time permits.

Whether you leverage the service’s web site, which enables reviewing and searching Twitter feeds as well as posting tweets, or Twitter’s iOS, Android, Nokia, BlackBerry, or Windows phone apps, corresponding tablet iterations, or Mac, Windows 8, or TweetDeck apps, the programs are free. The apps can be found on Twitter’s web site and within most every vendor’s respective app store.

So, what are you waiting for? If you don’t have a Twitter account, now is the time to try it. And if you already use Twitter, take a moment to really stop and reflect. What passions, interests, and topics truly motivate you? Have you taken time to search Twitter and follow corresponding Twitter feeds that you may have overlooked? When considering the accounts to follow, think of the past times, sports, products, beliefs, charities, books, films, art, authors, manufacturers, magazines, web sites, radio broadcasts, podcasts, newspapers, travel destination,s and services that bring you the most joy and fulfillment, then get cracking. You may just find new accounts to follow that begin changing the way you live your life too.

Is Twitter one of your favorite apps? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

TechRepublic's 12 Apps of Christmas